:: first feed ::
Once upon a time there was a little baby girl called Bananas. She was a great little breast-feeder from the moment she first clawed her way up my belly and latched on tight. Once she got the hang of it she took expressed breast milk from a bottle as easily as the boob so her Daddy could feed her from time to time, and aside from a short (and very painful) stint with vasospasm and another with mastitis, we had a wonderful fifteen months breastfeeding; yes our breastfeeding days were good.
Last night was Bananas’ last breast feed. We’ve been working up to it for a while, I think, but in the end it was me who cut the apron strings.
Back before DP Con she was losing interest in feeds, sucking away for five minutes or so and then blowing raspberries, or scratching the wall… generally finding my breasts more of a play thing than a nourishing reassurance. DP Con saw me away late for the first night and staying in Sydney for the second night, and as I sipped on some bubbly in the courtyard before dinner I became a little teary thinking that my baby might just be weaning, and I wasn’t even there to do it with her.
On the contrary the following night she fed like a child possessed. It was insane. She fed and fed and fed and fed, and for days she never left my side.
Fast forward a month or so and I’ve been a picture of apathy. I have been so lethargic and so disinterested, and I’m pretty sure it’s a hormone thing as a result of growing a little baby and breastfeeding at the same time. Sure there are probably other things at play as well, but the two feel related. Last week Bananas bit me two nights in a row. One minute, happily feeding before bed, the next – CHOMP – right on the nipple. As I removed her from my chest and brought her up to a cuddle on the second night I said ‘listen here child… three strikes and you’re out. If you bite me tomorrow night, that’s it. It’s all over.’
The following night she fell asleep at the breast and bit down in a sleepy munch like state. When I told Tom he said ‘you can’t cut her off if she wasn’t even awake when she bit you – that’s not fair’, and I agreed.
But I was disappointed. Seems maybe I was ready to give up feeding and was secretly hoping Bananas would bite me a third time so I could just stop the feeds already. And to be honest I was surprised that she hadn’t self weaned with the change in milk flavour anyway.
So Tom and I talked and agreed that we’d done a cracking job feeding her for as long as we have, and that since she is such an awesome little foodie, and since I am really not feeling it anymore and am struggling with CBF-ed-ness on most platforms in my life, we’d give it one more week.
Monday to Thursday flew by without a thought and all of a sudden we had three feeds left. Friday night I started explaining to her that there we we’re on the count down and she fed like a dream. In contrast on Saturday night she fed for a few minutes and then pushed away. I was devastated! I felt so rejected… ha! Little Miss, turning the tables already… Oh well, I thought, at least it will make it easier if she’s cutting the ties instead of me.
Last night was just the loveliest thing. She fed for a good half an hour on each side. I thanked her for being such a good feeder, I rubbed her hair and told her that I love her. I talked softly about what would happen the following night and how it might seem strange to her at first. I sang her songs, and as she sucked she hummed back at me, playing with my hair. At one point she adjusted her suck and was pinching a bit and I thought about unhooking her, but I decided that I wanted her to be the one to stop, not me. Unfortunately after another 15 minutes of pinching (and related vasospasm flashbacks) I had to unhook her after all.
She lay in my arms for ages, just looking up at me.
It was bliss.
Then I asked her for a kiss — she obliged — and I put her into bed.
Just like that.
She didn’t go to sleep straight away, we could hear her cooing and chatting away to herself for a good fifteen minutes or so, but she was settled and calm and contented.
It was bittersweet, that’s for sure, but such a perfect last feed. So beautiful.
:: last feed ::
Fast forward to tonight.
I did the bathing. Tom did the story, cuddle and bed.
It wasn’t like she’d never gone to bed without a feed before. There have been times when I’ve been at work, or the couple of nights I mentioned above, and she’s never ever cried out like that. Lordy. After a few minutes (five? ten, maybe?) she settled down to her normal whingey protesting, then again to her chatter and after a while to sleep.
I assume it will get easier.
I assume that she will learn that we haven’t abandoned her and that aside from no bedtime feed, it’s life as normal.
I assume the pangs of guilt and sadness will lessen as time goes by.