We reached another milestone together recently. After 20 months of breastfeeding, you have had your final breastfeed. This time, it’s incredibly bittersweet because you will probably be my last baby and the last little love that I ever have the pleasure of breastfeeding.
As soon as you were born, you easily latched on and breastfed within your first hour. Unlike your brother, after those first few early weeks, you rarely fell asleep breastfeeding. I was really surprised about that and felt that made things harder as I then had to walk/rock you to sleep after a feed!
You continued to breastfeed on demand until after your first birthday. I wondered whether you would breastfeed longer than Blake had (he weaned at 26 months), but I could see you were already beginning to slow down the feeds, and you were not demanding them as often as he did.
After my disappointing attempt at breastfeeding Hannah I did a lot of research on the dynamics of breastfeeding and what helps a woman become a successful long-term breastfeeder (this was my goal with my future children). I realised that I had missed out on one of the key aspects – watching and being around other women who breastfeed. So I made sure I changed that in preparation for Blake’s birth. I searched out new groups of friends, I watched those women breastfeed, I asked them questions, I made mental notes. Going into Blake’s birth I felt confident that he was going to get my breastmilk no matter what, and seeing other women breastfeed played a big part in me feeling so confident. I needed to see it in real life all around me, just like women before me had for most of time.
I knew I wanted my children growing up feeling that breastfeeding was a really normal, achievable way to feed a baby. That our bodies were made to lactate and that although it can be a hard skill to learn, it can be done with support and love. I wanted them to grow up seeing their siblings be breastfed and friends babies grow up breastfeeding so that this would become part of their world view. I believe our bodies are amazing, and I want to pass on that amazement, that pure respect, onto my children. And so far, from what I see in their play and in the way they relate to babies, I can see it has made the difference that I hoped for.
The health benefits of breastmilk are amazing and we still don’t know so much about this incredible milk our bodies were made to give our babies, but for me the benefits to breastfeeding Daisy right now are very much for our whole family and the community in general. As a wonderful friend of mine said “The more we see it, the less we will see it.” and I believe that to be true. I find breastfeeding as normal now as any other type of eating and I love that my children, and my husband do too.
So yes, breastfeeding means a lot to me. But now, it also means a lot to my children.
As I breastfed you to sleep for your nap on Christmas Day I had the sudden urge to try to take a photo of you nursing since I hadn’t taken a photo since you had turned two. You were already asleep so I laid you down next to me, and reminded myself that I would have plenty of opportunities to photograph you in the days and weeks to come.
I was wrong.
From the 27th you stopped asking for milk. That night I laid next to you while your daddy held you and stroked your head as you fell asleep. I was shocked that I could be right there and yet you didn’t ask. I expected everything to return to normal the next day. But it didn’t.
It has been nearly a month now and you still haven’t had any milk. You have asked once – after seeing you baby cousin feeding – but your daddy was able to take you to bed and put you to sleep without a fuss.
I was completely unprepared.
You loved your ‘milk’. You seemed competely uninterested in decreasing your 3 feeds a day. And yet, here you were, weaning.
It was, and still is, so bittersweet.
It is nice to have my body back to myself. And it is nice to see you becoming even closer with your father. It is nice not to feel so needed but at the same time I miss it.
Most of all, I wish I had taken that photo. I wish I had taken more of that last feed in, that I had cuddled you tighter in that embrace that was so special to just you and I. I wish I had known that feed was going to be one of the last we shared little boy.
Thank you for this journey Blake; for the last 2 years and 2 months of breastfeeding. The hardest, most self-sacrificing, sweet, life-affirming and unique experience of my life.
I really am so grateful.