For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about, there’s a fun award system within the breastfeeding community for every milestone you reach during your breastfeeding journey. It looks something like this:-
And why not? Breastfeeding is hard. So why not have a little fun whilst doing it.
I honestly didn’t know how long I’d last, I didn’t know how long T would want it, but getting to a year has made me feel so proud — especially as I only thought I’d feed until T started teething, but the fact that he started teething at 3 months meant I had to continue, there was no way I was going to stop at 3 months.
The first few weeks were really hard.
It hurt. A lot. Every day I told myself to get to the end of the day, but then the ‘end of the day’ turned into ‘the end of the week’. As it got easier, as the pain faded, something kept me going. Maybe it was watching T thrive. Maybe it was because I was/am too tight to pay £10 for a tub of formula when I have all the free food I can get right on my chest. Who knows. Either way, though, I kept going and out of no where I reached a whole year. I couldn’t be happier.
I’m over the moon that I’ve reached this huge milestone, however it has come with an ever approaching downside.
T has started to wean himself off the boob.
It started a few weeks ago when T only took a few sips of milk one morning, but was still moaning as if he was hungry. I offered again, but it didn’t seem to quench his moans. I wondered whether it was me and that I was empty, but after a quick squeeze (big mistake, sorry curtains) I realised that I wasn’t the issue. It wasn’t until I offered breakfast that he was back to his happy self. T didn’t want milk. This has been going on for a few weeks, on and off, regardless of whether he’s slept through or not.
Where are we now?
This week, however, has seen the biggest change of them all when T went a whole day (apart from a little drink before bedtime) without boob. A whole day. This was unheard of. Usually, he’d need a little something before nap time, but no. He just went to sleep. At the moment I wait for him to signal that he wants some boob, it’s only when he’s under the weather or teething (i.e. Requiring a bit more comfort) that I offer, however most of the time it’s up to him to tell me, and this works out great.
Since starting nursery he gets a bottle of cows milk in the afternoon before nap time, as I can’t keep up with pumping for Sharon in the evening as well as nursery, so I reserve my expressed milk for Sharon and their bedtime routine, and so to stick to this routine, on my days off, I give T a bottle of cows milk in the afternoon. It’s a really nice routine. It gives T the extra calories, and he seems to like it as well. Plus, I can still pump and up my freezer stash! But I can’t help but think that this is the beginning of the end.
If I’m honest, now that I’ve reached a year, I was hoping to get to at least 15-18 months. Why? No idea. It just felt like a good age to think (although not stop) about weaning him off. Before, teeth were my milestone, and then it became weaning, but then we just kept going. If T wanted it, he got it. I guess since hitting a year I assumed we’d keep going until we both felt it was right, however T seems to have reached this point before I have!
I don’t know how I feel about this, and in a strange way I don’t know whether I’m ready to stop yet. I enjoy feeding T. I enjoy providing for him. I enjoy that moment where everything stops and it’s just us. Deep down, perhaps breastfeeding, to me, signifies that T is still a “baby” and by not wanting to feed anymore he’s no longer a “baby” and is reaching toddlerhood.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to work on the “Don’t offer, don’t refuse” method of feeding as kindly suggested by someone recently. I like this as it means its up to him to lead, and maybe my boobs will get a well deserved rest.
So… Is it up to me to decide? When did you “stop”? How did you feel about it? I’d love to read about your journey.