saying goodbye to breastfeeding
NOTE: I've had this post sitting in my drafts folder for 8 months now. I can't really say why I've been so reticent to click that 'POST' button, but I've decided to share out of the hope that it will give some clarity to mama's in a similar situation.
This is a very real and very hard blog post to write. And the reason is - I never wanted to say goodbye.
Lily at 11 months old decided she no longer wanted to breastfeed. At first, I thought something must be wrong. A quick google search pulled up that it's very rare for babies under a year to 'self-wean'. It's got to be teething? Or a stomach bug? No it's definitely because she got a fright when I yelped as she bit my nipple once? NOPE. She's just done. Why am I writing this very personal, very real blog post? Because more mamas need to know about it.
Let's take it back to the very start, which feels like a lifetime ago. Ever since I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I knew all the benefits. I knew it was going to potentially be tough as hell and maybe not physically possible. And I knew that not every mama would make the same decision, but that's ok. Our beautiful Lily was born and I was lucky enough that breastfeeding was a breeze. It took a day or so for my milk to come in (yes that's a thing for all you non-mamas reading, it can sometimes take a week), and everything was going great. I got super engorged at the beginning, which is when your breasts turn into giant balloons as they can't deal with all the excess new milk being made. I compare it to feeling like there's giant rocks in your boobs. It must have been a sight, seeing me walking around the house with cabbage leaves on my tata's to no avail. After a day or so that got fixed up pretty quickly thanks to an insatiable newborn milk monster. We went through midnight feeds, 2am feeds, 4am feeds, 6am feeds and so forth (you get it!). And the dreaded cluster feed when they don't stop feeding for hours on end. And the entire time I loved it. To me, breastfeeding is the most beautiful intimate bonding experience you can possibly have in those first few weeks of life and beyond. Oh and the occasional downtime to catchup on FB, Instagram etc doesn't hurt either ;).
From month 1 through to 6, things were great. My little lady was in the 85th percentile for weight (aka big bubba) and breast-feeding continued to be a dream. As we started to introduce solids at 6 months, everything continued perfectly. Later on at 10 and a half months she started having some cows milk once a day and again all was good.
And then we hit the 11 month mark. It literally happened cold turkey. One day she just said NOPE, I'm done. Our quiet, snuggle moments turned into screaming, flailing moments of hell. She did not want it one iota. Lily would literally giggle and poke my boob if I showed her my breast, or scream and crawl away. At first, I thought it was something she would get over within a day, and it went on like this for a week. I tried sneaking into her room to feed her in her sleep but that didn't work either! As it dawned on me that breastfeeding was done, I felt a sadness and had a week of extreme blues. My baby is growing up. Her newborn clothes looked microscopic next to her current clothes. She was crawling, she was standing, she was saying mama all of which made it very clear - she's a little person. All of this combined made me feel unneeded (I know stupid thought in hindsight) and rejected. I struggled with this next stage of motherhood, like what even is my purpose then??
That's why I want to write this as I had no idea I could feel so blue after stopping breastfeeding. The amount of pamphlets they give you when you leave the hospital about postpartum blues, breastfeeding etc, is the equivalent to cutting down a small forest. Where was the heads up about this? It literally took scrawling through the Internet, forum on forum, to find other mamas blog posts to convince me that it's OK. This is normal. It can happen. Not all babies need to be weaned off, some just do it by themselves. And since reading other mamas accounts of what happened to them, I've come to accept it.. in fact I now see the bright side of it.
1. My little lady is independent. She likes eating food with her own hands. She pushes my hand away when she's reading a book like.. no mum I got this.
2. No more nursing bras and pads hooray! My boobs are back.. well kind of.
3. I can drink whenever I want. *dancing lady emoji*
4. My husband now gets to bond with Lily and do bedtime snuggles & milk and I can cook, or catch up on IG stories (more likely the latter)
So yes I've said goodbye breastfeeding (until #2 comes along) and I'm ok with it.