Yes, the title is a tad dramatic but we have finally reached the end of the road. The breastfeeding road, that is.
Ladies and gentlemen, I, on 9 February 2014 (Monday), nursed Elliott for the final time and we were done with nursing. It signified the end of pumping, washing parts, painful engorged boobs, lugging huge bags to and from work, etc.
Ah, it was an emotional yoyo. I was glad to be finally done and I can wear my usual clothes again. On the other, I miss our one-on-one, skin-to-skin moments. Just writing that line made my eyes well up with tears. The start of the breastfeeding journey was a rocky one. I set small goals and took one day and night feed at a time. I was also adamant to hit the minimum 6 month mark and told myself that anything after was a bonus. I did not want breastfeeding to become a chore.
Once the magic 6 month mark was crossed, we started to supplement with formula so that I wasn’t the only food source and I was heading back to work. I will always be thankful that Elliott took to the bottle well and switched easily between boob and bottle, breast milk and formula milk.
When he crossed 10 month old, I noticed that he was only nursing “for fun”. He’d suckle for 2 minutes, then get distracted by something else, then return to suckle again for another 3 minutes or so before taking off again. It was, to be honest, getting annoying. He was also waking up a couple of times at night just to nurse for 30 seconds or so before rolling over with a contented sigh.
I did not want my body (or rather, the boobies) to go into shock so I did it slowly. I started to wean him off his night feeds. It was semi-successful because he did start to wake less. However, his bout of illness threw things into a bit of a disarray. However, I could tell that my supply was slowing down.
Also, I went from pumping once a day at work (midday) to not pumping at all. By this time, I could go without pumping for the entire day and not feel too uncomfortable. I’d just direct latch the moment I got home from work. He was also drinking more of his formula milk and I pretty much only nursed him to sleep which really wasn’t much as he’d suckle for a bit and fall asleep. This also led to supply dropping steadily.
A week before Chinese New Year, I travelled to Hong Kong for a course. I would be away for a good 6 days and he’d be cared for by the in-laws. He is also fast approaching 1 year old. I then made a decision that it was the right time to stop nursing. This decision did not come easy because at the back of my head, “breast is best” was on repeat mode. I am thankful for experienced mamas (yes, that’s you, Yann) who told me if I felt that it was the right time, it is the right time then (or something along those lines).
The night before I left for Hong Kong, I was pretty emotional. I knew that it was the last time we were going to nurse but of course, the little guy was none the wiser. The next morning, I upped and left. I ensured that I packed my breast pump because I heard horror stories of engorged boobs from the weaning stage so I wanted to be prepared. Also, another vital item: Breast pads. Threw a couple of them into the luggage to prevent messy situations.
While in Hong Kong, I only pumped once on the first day. The rest of the time, because I stupidly misplaced one of the valve in my pump (I think the room attendant might have thrown it away!), I had no choice but to hand express to alleviate the discomfort. I found it useful to stand under relatively hot running water to do the deed. It helped that it was pretty cold in Hong Kong so a hot shower was very lovely indeed. The tendency to want to “over-express” was always there so I had to constantly remind myself to express enough just to feel comfortable again.
I was surprised that my 6 days in Hong Kong was pretty uneventful, weaning-wise. There were no leaking boobs and THANKFULLY, no rock-hard boobies. In fact, the breast pads felt like they were barely soaked. Whenever I felt a lump forming, I’d do the hot shower routine. In fact, it was such a nice change from NOT having to rush to a nursing room to pump. The husband joined me towards the end of the week and we had a lovely time just eating, shopping and eating more.
By the time I returned, I was missing Elliott like crazy. Usually, when he sees me, he would nuzzle into my chest and indicate that he wants to nurse (usually just for fun). When I carried him at the airport, he just looked happy to see me. Yeay! In fact, we transitioned so smoothly, it was such a bittersweet feeling for me.
On one hand, I was really glad that I did not have to refuse a crying child and he was guzzling his formula milk greedily (he’s been drinking so much, we are wondering if he’s on a growth spurt!). On the other, I kept thinking: Did you forget that you used to LOVE THE BOOB, my child?! Why don’t you ask for it anymore?
Mothers. Such weird creatures we are 🙂 Oh and did I mention that another “benefit” to weaning is the fact that he is finally SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT. Everyone say YEAY and wave pom poms please. He’d still wake for a bit and whine but once he realises that the room is pitch dark and his parents are asleep (well, I wasn’t – I was peeking at him with one eye), he’d go back to sleep until day break. I always do a little victory dance in my head whenever this happens but midway through said dance, I would have fallen back asleep too.
So yes. I am proud to say that I made it through 344 days of breastfeeding my child, just 21 days shy of a full year. Will I miss nursing him? But of course! But I have also concluded that there will a thousand other ways in which we will bond and form new treasured memories.
Time to head out to procure some new fancy clothes. Woot woot!
So so nice to be able to wear “normal” clothes without breastfeeding access, yo!