Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Bon Voyage Baby Milk - The Memorial

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.

I'm digressing.

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.

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12 comments:

  1. good luck with the weaning, I breastfed all three of mine, my youngest for the longest, he self weaned around 18 months of age just woke up one day and never asked for a fee, yet the day before had been a milk monster so not sure what or why he suddenly ditched the boobie milk but I was pleasently shocked that he did as I had visions of him starting school and needing me to go in at dinner for his drink ;)

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    1. Isnt that interesting. The day before must have been last orders!

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  2. I hope it goes smoothly for you both, good luck with it. I have to say that 18 months on, mine is still very interested in playing/ pulling them around. Funnily enough, the first thing he does for comfort when he is upset is try to reach inside my top ( no thoughts for my dignity.) Not sure how I stop that one. Saying goodbye to breastfeeding is emotional I think, but honestly, once I did it, I did feel a sense of relief - and it was fabulous to get some nice looking bras again too. Good luck x

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    1. Little A has already started shoving her arm down my top! It will stop within time - it must be a throw back to his breast feeding days - he knows, without knowing why, that your breasts are very comforting.

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  3. Can I ask where you've got some advice about weaning from? Bud is 22 months now and I really think we need to stop. I was hoping he would self-wean but the way we are going it will be his A levels as you suggest ;-) He really would feed all day I think, although I refuse unless it is morning, nap time or bedtime. Just looking for ideas on stopping really!

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    1. Sent you an email - hope you find something to work with!

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  4. I wrote a lovely long comment and then blogger wouldn't let me leave it! Can't remember what I said now, but lovely article. Hope it all goes smoothly for you. Polly x

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    1. Hey Polly! No worries. Blogger can be very annoying. Thank you for coming over and commenting anyway.

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  5. I breastfed my first two until they were 14 months and 12 months respectively. On both occasions, I stopped because I got pregnant and the midwives and health visitors all told me it was unwise to carry on breastfeeding - something to do with competing hormones. I later miscarried with both those pregnancies, but I'm sure that it was nothing to do with breastfeeding. I'm kind of digressing, but I just wanted to saY that I would have carried on for much longer. I loved it. it's difficult giving up isn't it? Although as mummy plum pointed out, there is a definite sense of relief about having your body back. Good luck hun!! x

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    1. Ah thank you my dear! I agree with you - I'm not so sure your misacrriages were due to breasfeeding. I read a couple of good books on breastfeeding - they both said that its okay to breasfeed whilst pregnant although the milk can start to taste different. However I also read that the older you are its not such a good idea to feed while pregnant - that there may be a risk of miscarriage.

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  6. I stopped breastfeeding my daughter when she reached 14 months, it just felt like the right time to do it. I adored breastfeeding her once we were up and running, but I have to say I started to want to stop once she was running up to me and yanking my top up herself. It was like a period of mourning for me after I stopped, you do miss that bond, but you will always have the memories. Good luck with it, I shall check back to see how you are (both) doing!

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  7. Good point! You always will have the memories. I'm one third of the way there now - will be finished soon. Thank you for coming back to check when I get around to writing my post on the actual weaning.

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