This is not the first mothering post I envisaged but reality intervenes sometimes!
A milestone occurred last night. I gave The Little Guy ("TLG") his last breastfeed.
I have been breastfeeding TLG from birth. I can hardly remember the first breastfeed I gave him, when he about about an hour old. What I do remember is the agony of engorgement (when the milk came in and the breasts went rock hard for a few days) and the constant pain of cracked nipples in the first weeks. It was like scratching a wound every 3 - 4 hours so it was raw all the time! At that point I couldn't imagine how I could enjoy breastfeeding.
Fortunately, soon TLG learnt to suckle better and I have good milk supply. He is a very efficient drinker and a feeding session is usually over in 10 - 15 minutes, and I only need to give him one breast most of the time. I know many mothers who have difficulties with breastfeeding, from low milk supply to mastitis. I am very thankful that my run was so smooth, and I loved the convenience of it. Of course it was still tough waking up multiple times during the night to feed him, I was walking around like a zombie most of the time.
I didn't think about breastfeeding as a special bonding moment ... until after we started feeding him solids and he took less milk per feed. It occurred to me that he was no longer completely dependent on me for his nutrition, and that made me a bit sad. Maybe "sad" is not the right word, it's a feeling of letting something go ...
I started cutting back on his feeds in November - from 4 to 2 that month, and I cut the morning feed on Christmas Eve. He was fine after each cut. He was eating very well by then so I know nutritionally he was well covered.
I thought the feed before bed will be the hardest to cut because it is part of a bedtime routine (bath - milk - storytime - bed) and he may be upset if he doesn't get "mummy's boobie juice".
We started giving TLG cow's milk to drink during the day in the last week and he was drinking well. So on Saturday night I asked Mr Curious to give him warm milk at bedtime. And he was OK! According to Mr Curious he was only sipping at first, but after a while he realised that it was the only milk he was going to get so he drank the whole thing.
That could've been it, but I wasn't quite ready to stop yet. The decision to give him cow's milk on Saturday night was a bit impromptu, and I wanted to do it one last time, to enjoy the intimacy of it and to give it a proper farewell. Plus my boob was pretty full!
So I gave TLG one last breastfeed last night. I closed my eye for a while to enjoy the sensation, and told him that it was a pleasure to provide for him in the last 11-odd months. And then he came off the boob and it was over. I gave him a big hug, then resumed the bedtime routine.
Looking back, I'm very proud of my achievements. I am so glad that I was able to give TLG such a special gift.
So farewell to my maternity bras, Bonds maternity singlets and Henley tees. You've served me well. And it is kind of nice to have "the ladies" to myself again ... well to Mr Curious too I guess ;-).
P.S. The logo at the top of this post is an international breastfeeding symbol promoted by Mothering.com. You can read more about the design here.
P.P.S. I am firmly in support of mothers' choice in feeding their baby, whether it is breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. Unfortunately many people are very judgemental one way or another. Let's hope those attitudes change soon!