I’m writing this because if this is the end, I want to remember. And because I’m impossibly sad and guiltily relieved about it…and not ready.
Up until Sunday evening (3/10/10) Twink breastfed once or twice a day. Generally twice if we were together all day and I did bedtime, once if it was a nursery day. All of us, except Hubby, have been ill since Saturday night. It may just be a cold, but it’s a bad one and we are not getting much sleep here. Since I was pregnant with Squish, I’ve suffered from nursing aversion when feeding Twink. Sometimes it’s been so bad I’ve been trying not to scream, digging my nails into my palm and hoping he would finish quickly. Sometimes it’s not been there at all and we’ve had lovely snuggly feeds. As recently as a few weeks ago, he fell asleep nursing. However, when I’m feeling run down, or even just dehydrated, the aversion is worse. So, naturally, as I’m ill now, I’ve been avoiding feeding him. If he’s asked I’ve told him later, and if he’s asked again I’ve let him nurse. If he hasn’t asked or has forgotten after being delayed once, he’s missed that feed. While his feeds were usually one in the morning & one in the evening, they have never been routined (he’s not a routine person, & neither am I!), so sometimes they were before breakfast, sometimes after, sometimes in the living room before bedtime started, sometimes in his room last thing before sleep.
The last feed he had was Wednesday morning, and I can barely remember it.
I’m welling up just thinking that it could be the last time. It was a little longer than his usual feeds. Squish was napping and I thought he wanted extra to get my supply back up after a three day break, as well as because he is run down too. As long feeds go, it was quite lovely, but I did have to cut him short on the second side as the doorbell rang, and I was relieved about that. When he asked for more, I told him later. He then asked when Squish was feeding. So I fed him standing up in front of me, with Squish cradled in my arm. Squish lost interest at that point, but still, I think it counts as a tandem feed. Sorry if that’s too much detail, but I don’t want to forget.
I’ve been hoping he’d stop for a while, but at the same time I don’t think he’s ready and I definitely don’t seem to be! He was just two days shy of 29 months, and while to many people that would seem like a very long time to breastfeed, it doesn’t to me. Maybe it’s because his speech is behind, or we’re still waiting for those last four molars, or I’m being precious about my firstborn, but he still seems to need it. Or at least he did before this week.
I’ve always known I wanted to breastfeed. To be honest, it never occurred to me that there was an alternative. I worried about whether or not I’d be able to breastfeed more than anything else while I was pregnant. It was so important to me. I read everything I could, and gathered telephone numbers offering support. I didn’t know many people who had breastfed, and none who had breastfed past 3 months, but all of them had found it hard work. So I thought I was prepared for whatever challenges were ahead.
The reality was nothing like I’d expected. I picked up this solid little baby from the water (he was born in a birth pool) and cuddled him to me. I was wearing a swimming costume top and a nightshirt on top (don’t ask…weird pregnancy brain thought it was sensible!) so he couldn’t get at me to feed, but this seconds old baby knew exactly were my nipple was and tried to latch on through two layers. As soon as I’d got rid of the barrier he latched on, and then came the unexpected part.
It was easy.
The midwife visited when he was five days old. I answered the door cradling him in my arms while he fed. I joked that all I had to do was get him in the right general area and he did all the work! My midwife even invited me to be a guest at the antenatal classes she was running to ‘demonstrate’ breastfeeding. Within the first few weeks I had breastfed him walking around the shopping centre (9 days), walking through a crowded, open plan office full of lawyers (2 weeks), on the steps in front of the lawyers’ office, in the pub (not a family pub, 3 weeks), coffee shops, friend’s houses, & I’m sure lots of other places I can’t remember…I didn’t stay in much!
I remember spending the first few weeks on such a natural high. I was literally giddy at being a mum. Those post-birth hormones were FANTASTIC! And I think a lot of that was down to our breastfeeding relationship. It seems I was lucky. I was certainly happy that I had the magic cure all that could fix everything from hunger, to pain, to tiredness and grumpiness. On the other hand, he was the kind of baby who fed constantly! There were many people who didn’t see me without Twink attached, and as for growth spurts…I didn’t even notice them in the first six or seven months…2 hours was a long space between feeds for him. Day and night. In fact, it was usually even more frequent than that. The nine month growth spurt was the first one I noticed…he started feeding every 30 – 60 minutes, day and night! Thankfully that didn’t last forever, and after that he started going longer between feeds, until he even started sleeping through at 11 months.
After that, he still fed at least every two hours during the day, and after a month of sleeping through, he started waking once or twice. I didn’t realise at first, but this coincided with me becoming pregnant with Squish.When I was about 2 months pregnant, and Twink was 14 months old, I got my first taste of nursing aversion, although it was just at night. After a memorable night when Twink & I were awake and crying for two hours (because he wanted milk and was tired but I kept taking him off before he was ready as it was just too much for me), Hubby took over night times, and as Twink has always been fine without milk unless I was in the room, he was fine with Daddy cuddles.
Unfortunately a month later nursing aversion hit during the day and I had to cut him down from every 2 hours on demand, to twice a day. I was always flexible with when those two occasions were as sometimes it was useful to be able to calm him down before a tantrum hit in the afternoon, but 2 feeds were manageable. After a few months I found that as long as I drank plenty of water and took care of myself, I could cope with the occasional extra feed.
When Squish arrived, Twink was 21 months old. He had nursed the evening before her birth, and he nursed again a couple of hours after her birth. The nursing aversion had practically disappeared. Since then it has come and gone, mostly depending on how much care I’ve been taking of myself. It has never been anywhere near as bad as it was when I was pregnant. One trigger for it was tandem feeding, particularly in the early days….which is when I had to tandem quite often as Twink fancied feeding whenever he saw his sister having some milk! After a few weeks of several feeds a day, he once again settled back to once in the morning and once in the evening…with the occasional extra feed to avert a tantrum! I even managed to feed him in public again…although only as a meltdown stopper.
I’ve found nursing a toddler quite challenging. It’s actually not that easy to get him comfortably positioned on my lap, especially as he still prefers the cradle hold. That’s probably the major reason why I haven’t tandem fed so often recently…Squish is a wriggler if I feed her sitting up (me sitting up, that is), so add in a toddler who seems to be all knees and it’s not comfy!
Since I wrote the above, I was almost positive it was over when Twink watched me pump without asking to nurse. Then after Squish had fed, he asked for some!! So we had a lovely snuggly sleepy feed as he hadn’t napped today…at one point I thought he was going to fall asleep!
I hope this isn’t the end…but I guess if it isn’t, it’s still a sign that the end isn’t too far off. Time to prepare myself for not breastfeeding a toddler