I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be able to breastfeed this time around, in fact there was a point towards the end of my pregnancy when I wasn’t even sure I wanted to. The idea of juggling two other children with lengthy feeds didn’t appeal to me at all. But then he was born and my instinct was to feed him, to hold him close and give him what he needed right then and there.
It wasn’t the easiest of starts, he has a slight tongue tie and this means his latch isn’t the best in the world. I cried, a lot, those first few days but I carried on in the hope that it would get better, that the sheering pain would be worth it all. As much as it soon eased, we were met with a new obstacle, one that did not come as a surprise at all unfortunately. He is allergic to milk and to soya, just as Lils was as a baby and this meant I either gave up certain foods or stopped breastfeeding, just as I was getting started.
I was never able to breastfeed Lils, I realised too late that she had allergies and along with her tongue tie this led to my milk drying up by 7 weeks, if it ever established at all in the first place. Thankfully I recognised the symptoms at 12 days this time and so we have managed just fine, me being on a restricted diet and him being a happy baby, free from the worry of allergies. I don’t know how long I thought I would carry on for but at that point I didn’t care, I was just glad to have found a way of keeping my little boy happy.
Being on a restricted diet is really rubbish, dairy isn’t so bad but there is soya in absolutely everything! Christmas was hard, watching everyone munch on tins of roses and other lovely treats. The only good thing is the fact I have lost a shed load of weight as a result! Still, it is hard and so I decided that I would aim for 6 months and stop then, tying it in with my birthday. That way I could enjoy a big slab of chocolate cake knowing I’d given him 6 months of my milk, an achievement under normal circumstances, let alone allergy free.
So here we are, at the 6 month mark, my birthday is on Friday and my breastfeeding journey is over. We have been slowly weaning him on to bottles over the last month or so, swapping a feed at a time so as to ease my supply down. The last stage was night feeds as I wanted to be able to soothe him in the middle of the night should he need me – boob has been the only thing to do that since he was born. But, for the last few days he has not crept into our bed in the middle of the night, he has made it through to around 5.30 each morning and I have been able to snuggle him until his first bottle of the day at 7. He doesn’t need me anymore.
I feel guilty for stopping, I feel sad that I have been the one to stop it, but I have been so tired and he just hasn’t slept. He is such a big boy and I don’t think I have ever truly fed him to full satisfaction, it is only now on bottles that he is a contented sleeper, in the day and at night. With two other children to think about, I couldn’t carry on in my sleep deprived state any more. I made the decision to make the switch and it is one I will stand by. But I am still sad.
At lunchtime yesterday we went out and as I looked at the menu to see what my options were I decided to choose a normal meal, something that would put an end to my breastfeeding journey. My thinking was that I didn’t want to know it was the last time, that if I’d known that I’d fed him for the last time that morning I would have been so upset. I didn’t want that, I didn’t want to sob as my heart broke in two. I think deep down I had known it that morning, as I stroked his tiny head while he nuzzled up to me, stopping every now and then to look up at me with his beautiful blue eyes. I knew that I was cuddling him close for the last time and it was ok.
Despite the tiredness I have enjoyed every last minute, and it has been a series of lasts as I will never do it again. Our cuddles are different now though, they are cuddles for the sake of cuddling and that is a new normal that I am looking forward to.