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.
Elliott sleeps beside me on his own cot. This allows us to reclaim our own bed space without the fear of rolling over him, yet allows me to reach him easily for the night feeds. For the longest time, he will wake in the middle of the night for feeds. On good nights, he’d wake 2-3 times. On bad ones, he can be up every other hour. This translates to me being completely exhausted from the broken sleep the night before. Having to think and speak coherently the following day at work becomes a challenging feat. I also noticed that during these night feeds, or nibbles, as I call them, he wouldn’t really drink. What he really does is to suckle for 2-3 minutes, then roll over and fall back to sleep with a contented sigh. Yes, he actually sighed a couple of times. It got me wondering if he was actually hungry or just nursing out of comfort and habit.
After a couple of particularly bad nights when I woke up with a throbbing headache with brain function at -10%, I told myself that this night nibbling business needs to be cut down. He’s already 10 month old and according to baby literature, he should not be hungry if he is given a full milk feed before bedtime.
The husband and I came up with a plan. Or rather, I came up with the plan and he was to assist in carrying it out.
Elliott goes to bed at about 9pm. Usually. Of course, there are nights when he is jumpy and bouncy till midnight and his parents fall asleep before him but never mind that. So yes, usual bedtime is 8.30-9pm-ish. He is usually nursed to sleep and he remains asleep till close to midnight/1am. The husband will then give him a dream feed via milk bottle of about 30ml. He used to give more (60-90ml) but Elliott would take forever to drink it and usually would fall back asleep before he even reaches the 30ml mark. So yes, so as not to waste milk, we now only give him 30ml.
This is where the night weaning attempt starts.
Finally, 20 months after we embarked on this breastfeeding journey, we are completely weaned.
I knew that weaning the boy was not going to be easy. He loves to nurse, it’s his source of comfort and way of being close to mama. While the number of nursing sessions in a day have dropped over the months, there were a few that had seemed almost impossible to erase: the evening one, immediately after we get home; the night wakings and the weekend naps.
When I even hint at rejecting him during these sessions, the waterworks come on instantly. Sometimes, these are accompanied by that dramatic collapse onto the bed. Remember, THE WORLD IS ENDING.
But I was done. I felt done. I woke up one day and decided that this was it, I no longer wanted to continue. But how do I wean?
I ran away from home.
Weaning is bittersweet.
On one hand, I’ve had enough of breast pads, nursing bras, milk storage bags and all the breastfeeding paraphernalia and am looking forward to tossing them into the back of my wardrobe.
I’m raring to finally detach myself from my breast pump, which I have been faithfully toting on my back to and from work, like a turtle carrying its shell.
I’m more than ready to give up washing pump parts over and over again, both in the office restrooms throughout the day and at home, in the dead of the night.
Coco, on the other hand, may miss her playthings once I’m done with them.
Wasn’t yet 2 and already such a know-it-all.
My husband, though, is shamelessly looking forward to having his playthings back.
Once they’re weaned, there’s no turning back. It’s the point of no return.