Holy hell we’ve made it. I can barely believe it, but somehow it’s happened. ONE YEAR OF BREASTFEEDING.
And be entirely assured- My only agenda when it comes to sharing my breastfeeding journey is to promote informed choice. My first baby was breastfed for a week, combi fed for a week, then fully formula fed. I am not judging anyone. But I do believe that many of us who don’t meet our own breastfeeding goals are sabotaged by unrealistic expectations and poor support.
The reality amongst the women I work with is that most breastfeeding journeys are somewhere in the grey area of the spectrum from exclusive breastfeeding to formula feeding. Knowing we are not alone in our difficulties serves us.
So on with the update….
Once again, it’s hardly been fuss free. Simpler, for sure, but still with its ups and downs. The biting at every teething episode. Eeeeeeeeek. Luckily I’ve not lost any chunks of nip, but the grating and pinching and clamping. Ugh.
Then came the nursing strike. I think he was around 8.5 months. It seemed to coincide with another teething episode, a bit of a cold making feeding and breathing tricky. It went on for about 5 days. He always fed at night, so I just needed to make it through the daylight hours. Sounds ok, right? Except that it’s the only way I really had to get him to nap.
So it went like this. He got tired. I put him to boob. He latched and sucked about twice. Then clamped his teeth down and pulled off. So I put it away. So he cried for boob. And repeat times a thousand until we were both crying in a heap on the floor.
I thought I’d got it figured out by slotting in a couple of pumping sessions for comfort- you can rely on a double electric not to bite you or reject you. But. One of those days we took a drive to meet my parents in Cambridge. We were stuck in the car for a LONG time. I found myself, on the way home, with a sippy cup wedged under each boob, hand expressing for survival whilst he looked on from his car seat in amusement. He promptly downed the expressed milk from the cup and I didn’t know whether to be happy about that or to resent his victory in controlling the situation.
But somehow, it passed, as everything seems to, THANK ALL THE GODS.
From then until about 10.5 months I found feeding him quite unpleasant most of the time. Pulling on and off, the aforementioned tooth action, any minor distraction interrupting proceedings. Many many many nights of being latched on more than being off, leaving my hips and shoulders sore each morning from contorting myself around him. At that time I was looking ahead and seeking out tips to stop feeding around his birthday- I’d had enough.
When he was 11 months, I went away for 2 nights, to a retreat I’d booked when he was newborn- at that time I’d never imagined I would still be feeding him. I was anxious about how he would manage- he’s always had some time away from me whilst I’m working, and has drunk milk from bottles, and later cups with no fuss, but I was worried that this wouldn’t transfer into the dark hours.
I was also hopeful- part of me wondering if he would sleep better knowing I wasn’t there to comfort suck from. Maybe this would be a turning point where the nights would improve.
It turned out to be absolutely fine, but not the revolution I was after. He woke every couple of hours for Daddy and we returned immediately to our normal waking rigmarole.