When breastfeeding ends…

Yesterday, I read this article about the sadness experienced when weaning and it got me thinking.
My first child was weaned at a few days old. I did feel sad that I wasn’t able to breastfeed her- but the predominant emotion was guilt. I knew it was considered bad to formula feed by the midwives because they kept referring to me as an “artificial feeder” and shaking their heads- they pretty much stopped coming near me once I switched to formula. I had a severly tongue tied baby. I knew I might as my mother in law had warned me that they ran in the family and told me what to look for. My daughter could not latch at all, couldn’t lift her tongue at all. Breastfeeding was excruciating and fruitless- she lost weight, turned yellow- you name it. At 21, I didn’t know what else to do so I bottle fed and it was fine for us in the end. Not one of my health care providers mentioned tongue tie revision, expressing, nipple shields- in fact, as a first time mum, not one of the midwives I saw listened to me about the tongue tie. I think it was day 4 before a trainee lactation consultant, rolling her eyes and shaking her head, deigned to have a look then agreed it was actually a pretty extensive tie. That was all the “action” that she took though, so we went straight to formula. There was such a short, painful and fruitless breastfeeding relationship to mourn that I don’t think I really did. I thought about it from time to time, told my friends about the awful breastfeeding-pressure from the midwives (that came with no help, unfortunately) and moved on.

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My eldest ‘baby’.

Ten years later, with my second baby, we are still breastfeeding at 22 months. It has not been a trouble free exercise but I am better educated and better supported than I was 10 years ago so the experience has been vastly different.
We aren’t considering weaning-we aren’t even close to that point. Little Miss has had an ear infection and has spent the last few days eating very little- it’s times like this I’m super thankful to still be feeding her because otherwise, she wouldn’t have had anything much at all of any nutritional value. At this point, weaning will probably be her choice.
This isn’t because I want to cling to the breastfeeding relationship or keep her a baby; she is more and more a little girl every day and less my little baby. There is definitely nutritional benefit to breastfeeding her through toddlerhood and there is also the emotional comfort it brings her and it is these reasons that keep me breastfeeding- it’s good for her, it makes her happy and calms her, it comforts her when she feels sad or sick or is in pain- and all this costs me nothing.
The thought of no longer breastfeeding though… It does make me sad, because, like the author of the article I read yesterday, she is most likely my last baby. Even here I find it difficult to say she definitely will be. I’m holding out hope in case we win the lottery, I guess. It’s not a choice I’m making because I feel like I’m done having babies, it’s a choice we are making because we simply cannot afford to have another baby. I am blessed with an older daughter from a past relationship, I have two step children from my husbands first marriage. The three are close in age and get along really well. Then we have Bennie, our one baby that is “ours”.

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The three ‘big’ kids

Once breastfeeding stops, I’m officially out of that phase of my life- the door to babies will be closed and yes, that makes me sad. When the time comes, I can see there will be benefits- I will wear normal bras, take whatever cold and flu tablets I want, buy clothes without considering how I will get my boobs out of them in a hurry- I might be so over it that weaning will be a happy milestone for us! But for now, weaning is still very tied in with a phase of my life, my “child-bearing years” I guess, and I’m glad it’s not over just yet.

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All 4 of our kids

Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT

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