It’s been three weeks since Thomas last had breast milk from me, so I think it’s time to acknowledge that, after 20 months, our breastfeeding days are over.
I’ll happily admit that there have been times in the last three weeks that I have felt almost sad that there will be no more feeds, because breastfeeding has been such a big part of our mother/son relationship from the moment he was born. But breastfeeding was never something that I did for me, so I’m happy that ultimately he decided when to give up. Or, at least, I hope he did, and that I didn’t subconsciously push him in to it. Because just a couple of months ago I was strongly considering actively working towards weaning in the hope that it may help our attempts at trying to conceive again. In the end, I decided against it, mainly because it clearly wasn’t what Thomas wanted at that time, but would be driven by my agenda. I simply didn’t have the heart, or energy, to engineer weaning against his will.
So the fact that it ended up happening so suddenly and so easily has come as a huge shock to me. I didn’t have any inkling that our last ever feed pre-bathtime, snuggled on the sofa, as was typical of all our feeds in the last few months – was going to be our last ever feed. On reflection, that is probably for the best, as being the sentimental softie that I am, I’d likely have got upset about it, but instead the realisation that we’d finished dawned on me rather slowly as it wasn’t unusual for Thomas to skip a day, or even two, of feeding.
This time, two days stretched in to three, then four, then five without him asking for any breast milk. Then came a couple of occasions where he asked quite clearly for “boobie”, and I thought perhaps we weren’t done. But these requests came outside the usual evening period that has been the only time we’ve fed for many weeks. He asked on the way in to nursery one morning, and I promised he could have milk that evening. By the time the evening came, he wasn’t interested. He also screamed it at the top of his lungs from the back of the car, but once we stopped he wasn’t interested in milk and actually wanted food, so I suspect it was just the easiest way for him to express hunger in that situation. (When he was completely pre-verbal, he would reach inside my top to express hunger or thirst, even if it wasn’t breast milk he particularly wanted or needed.)
So here we are three weeks down the line. I’m no longer a breastfeeding mother. I’m trying to get to grips with underwired bras again and restocking myself in a totally new size to the pre-pregnancy days. The very gradual reduction after a long time of feeding, however, has meant that I haven’t noticed any changes at all in my breasts, other than a strange sort of scabbing over of my nipples which has now flaked off again (sorry, TMI!)
I’m sure there will be people out there ready to jump on me for saying it, but I am proud of both of us and our breastfeeding success. It’s no secret that I really, really wanted to breastfeed, and no secret that I struggled in the early days. Being proud of myself isn’t about belittling anyone else, or claiming to be a better mother, or superior in any other way. It’s simply about celebrating the fact that I managed to do what was right for us.