Saturday, August 6, 2016

Goodbye, breastfeeding

It's World Breastfeeding Week and Bobbin has chosen this time to self wean. The irony is not lost on me.

She has been in the process of weaning for many months now, at times going a full week without a feed. But this time we are at two weeks, and it feels like it is forever.

I've been pregnant, breastfeeding or both for seven years straight.

I could see our breastfeeding journey was coming to an end soon, or, more accurately, I could feel it was nearly over.

Bobbin's latch has been changing. Some days she would be fine and other days she would treat my nipple like a straw and not surprisingly, would get very little milk as a result. If it had been a few days between feeds, she would take a few tries to get her latch right, as if she was forgetting how to do it.

We have been down to one feed a day, just first thing in the morning to allow us all to sleep a little longer, for a long time now. There's been a few random day time feeds when she has been sick or upset, but it's not her go-to.

I'm surprised how similar the two weanings have been despite the different circumstances. Tricky weaned at around two and a half years because when I got pregnant my minimal supply dropped off and it freakin' hurt every time he latched, so I started refusing some feeds and he would shrug his shoulders and have a drink of water instead. Then he just stopped asking. It was all very painless, at least for him. I, on the other hand, felt like someone was slicing my nipples off with razor blades for those last months when pregnancy made them so sensitive.

Bobbin is just shy of three, so she has fed a few months longer than her brother, but the gradual, no fuss weaning has been almost identical. When she would hurt me with the incorrect latch I'd take her off and she'd quite happily take water, "Bobbin's milk" (soy in a bottle), or go and play. Then she stopped asking all together.

I'm glad they have both pretty much weaned in their own time, with only slight encouragement from me. It's been a gentle process and we've all adjusted well.

I always pictured myself breastfeeding my children, but at the beginning I never saw myself as a full term feeder. I guess because I'd never seen it before. It was only the blog world and the interwebs that taught me it was even a thing, and when my kids hit twelve months and were still very reliant on their "mum cuddles" (Tricky) and "mum milkies" (Bobbin) the idea of forcing them to switch to the milk of a different mammal seemed bizarre. So they kept nursing and I just went with what they wanted.

I'm not sad that it's over, though. I don't pine for those moments, though I look back on them with such fondness. Tiny hands grabbing at my shirt, little fingers exploring my face, that milk drunk face. Then as they got older, that immediate calm that would come over them when they fed, no matter what was happening around them - immunisations, blood tests and even removal of stitches. They were super boobs and could solve any problem.

It has been the cliche honour and privilege to be able to breastfeed my children and donate milk to premature babies. It hasn't been easy (nipple staph infection anyone?) but it has been worth it for us.

But I'm done. And I'm happy.

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