|This is not Little A or my booby. It just|
adds a visual aperitif to a long blog post.
We got lucky. After a 20 hour labour that ended in a c-section, Little A and I managed to breast feed.
Lying in the recovery area, I looked upon the delicate form of the naked infant wriggling in my arms and softly murmured, ''shall we give it a go''.
So I put Little A to my breast and she suckled without any hindrance. This, I felt, was my deserved prize after a challenging birth. I don't know how we did it. I didn't know what I was doing. The breastfeeding consultant at my NCT group had focused more on the cakes and tea than nose to nipple. Maybe intuitive timing had played an influential part and that we'd found our feeding groove without interference from over zealous midwives.
I think it helped that Little A possessed a strong sucking reflex from the moment she arrived. On the second day of her newborn life, a paediatrician pressed his index finger into my daughter's mouth and it promptly and unequivocally vanished. ''She's got a very strong suck on her,'' was his surprised commentary.
I feel very grateful our breastfeeding relationship started so positively. I know others who weren't so lucky. There was a woman in my NCT group who really wanted to breastfeed but her confidence was eroded by midwives determinedly shoving her son onto the nipple. Neither she or her child were ready and consequently the breastfeeding relationship never evolved.
Little A was always a nibbler never a marathon feeder. She adamantly refused the bottle. I knew then that we weren't going to be weaning at the expected six months. I actually didn't want to wean at this point. I always had in mind feeding for at least a year.
One morning when she was seven months old Little A accidentally sank her teeth into me. It was 6.00 am and we were co-sleeping at the time. I screamed in fright and regretfully pushed her away. My message was clear and she never bit me again.
The first birthday came and went and Little A's feeding and comforting showed no signs of abating. So I just continued with the aim of allowing her to self wean. I followed the maxim, 'don't offer, don't refuse', though in hindsight I'm not sure this method actually works, as Little A was persistent in her demands for milk. Still breastfeeding offered such a dependable security in times of teething and illness, and aided the healing of many a day to day hurt and frustration.
I've found breastfeeding my toddler a deliciously sweet experience and one which is surprisingly misunderstood by many. I've been astounded by the narrow mindedness of some at the idea of continuing to feed an older baby. They are called milk teeth for a reason.
One health visitor stared eyes wide in surprise when I disclosed I still fed my fourteen month old. She stoutly responded with, ''well we still encourage mothers in third world countries to feed for two years''. Another launched into a disdainful monologue about having witnessed toddlers climbing onto their mothers laps for a warm respite of milk and comfort. She actually crinkled her nose in disgust. I'd only mentioned in passing that I still breast fed. I was shocked at her attitude and ashamedly sank into my chair. ''If you don't like the offensive sight you can close your eyes love'', is what I wished I'd said.
I had some telephone counselling once for my birth trauma. The therapist seemed to have a rather pious view on the appropriate time line for weaning a toddler. She had weaned her children at around fourteen months. She suggested I should ''pick apart my reasons for continuing to breastfeed''. What? I breastfed out of love and because its quite frankly very convenient. Little A was only thirteen months at the time. Its not an unconscious sexual thing letting a toddler suckle, its simply a mummy thing. Anyway there is plenty of research to show that 'extended breastfeeding', a turn of phrase I thoroughly dislike, creates confident and independent children.
So Little A has just turned two and I have to wean her for reasons I can't ignore. In all honesty I don't feel ready. The thought of it makes me readily weep. I feel we are weaning before our time. Maybe its just me. Maybe Little A is more ready than I realise. I am going to miss the snuggling together and exquisite tenderness. I guess I'm mourning another necessary separation in our relationship as Little A flies into her rightful independence.
Still as much as I have treasured this aspect of our relationship I don't fancy the idea of Little A yanking on my jumper the night before her A'levels. A sobering thought. And although cute, I wont particularly miss her blowing raspberry's on my orbs or her current amusement of pushing my breasts together and gleefully plunging her entire face into my cleavage. Nor will I miss my daughter's ironic demands for the 'udder one too', so that I'm forced to sit like a milk churning cow with both my boobs dangling out. And I certainly won't miss nursing bras! Maybe I am more ready than I realise .....
Wish me luck and bon voyage as I set sail on the weaning adventure. I'll let you know how I get on!
I'm linking this post up with Kate On Thin Ice's inspirational Groovy Mums as I am making BIG changes in my life.