I wanted to breastfeed. Desperately. I was terrified I wouldn't be able to do it or I'd be bullied by the general public if I did it out in the open or that my son would have feeding difficulties.
None of these things happened. We were so lucky. I have been surrounded by the most supportive, loving people. No one has jeered. No one has judged.
The first ten weeks were awful due to his colic but then we managed to ease into it. I started to enjoy it and a bond that no one can break or understand unless they have done it themselves, formed. A bond that is deep and emotional. It's playful, loving, intimate.
When asked, I complain to the high heavens about feeding him, it can be frustrating, painful, intolerable when he is fussy or angry but for the most part (after those ten weeks!) it has been a wonderful journey.
I breastfed my son exclusively for the first five months of his life. We started feeding him solids at five months. We have been trying to get him to take a bottle of formula since he was six weeks and a week ago, at six and a half months old, he started taking a bottle. It was a tremendous success and relief. For the first four days, his bottle was in the day. Then over the last three nights, we have given him a bottle to get him to sleep.
It felt like the right thing to do. Giving him one as he lay in his cot. Instead of curling him around my body to feed. I went with my gut and it worked.
He drank all the bottle and then self-settled. This moment should have also been relieving and triumphant, and it was to my husband but to me, I felt like my heart was breaking.
I cried a lot the first evening. I never expected this complexity of emotions. I never expected to feel as low and depressed as I do knowing that breastfeeding is now coming to an end.
Even though I have craved my independence so desperately it's now looming over me and I'm utterly grief stricken.
My body grew my son, birthed him at great cost and then sustained him for five months. It is an intense attachment. The whole way through we have been the same person, at one with one another and after nearly 16 months his physical reliance to me is almost over.
My God, it hurts. It's like someone has winded me, smashed me in the solar plexus. It's like a part of me has died. A part inside that no one can see. I
feel like he won't love me anymore, he won't need me. I will be useless and my life will be meaningless.
It's bloody dramatic.
Yet, I have no other way of putting it into words.
Under all of this sadness, I'm also excited. It's a weak feeling currently but it's there and I know after the initial heartbreak it'll grow. Finally, I can go to work and earn money for my family. I can do something in the evening without working around a bedtime routine that no longer relies on me. I can drink without guilt. My husband is more than capable of putting his son to bed now. I don't have to panic and stress every time I leave my baby with family so I can run an errand. My freedom to recapture my passions for writing, knitting, painting is drawing ever nearer.
But at this very moment in time. I am in emotional turmoil. No one ever told me about this part of breastfeeding. Maybe it's because I'm terribly sensitive and others don't feel the same when they finish breastfeeding. Or perhaps putting an experience like this into words feels impossible, understated, too much to comprehend.
Whatever it may be, I think everyone who has breastfed can agree that although it is natural and we shouldn't pat ourselves on the back too much, it is an achievement. To persevere through the really horrible first few weeks of engorgement, mastitis, cracked bleeding nipples, grabbing hands, bad latches, midnight hours of suckling just for comfort. To come through all of that and more because you want your baby to have the best start they can. It's selfless and I'm proud of getting as far as I have.
Anyway, the breastfeeding has to come to an end very soon for my safety... I've managed to tolerate two teeth coming through and biting but now there's a third, it's time to say goodbye!