15 Months. Fifteen months. 1 year, 3 months. One year and three months of breastfeeding. And then it stopped. Just like that. In one single day. It’s now been about a week. People say to keep offering, and I have been, but she is not interested at all.
It’s all the fault of the Coxsackie Virus a.k.a. Hand, Foot and Mouth; a common virus amongst the smallies, especially in childcare etc
Her mouth, and in particular her tongue, was so sore she couldn’t attach properly and when she tried she would scream. It was awful. Talk about aversion therapy!
Some of have said: “Well, you were already weaning, so this just speeds it up”
Yes, that’s true, but I wasn’t ready for the suddenness of it.
When I was pregnant, I was so looking forward to breastfeeding, with a few fears as my mother had issues. However, at all check ups, education sessions with the Breastfeeding Association, I was told not to worry, that these things aren’t hereditary. Just wait and see.
I ended up having an emergency ceasar after 4 days of labour (though my hospital records don’t reflect same, according to them 7 hrs active labour). I was exhausted. Beyond exhausted and had very little help with getting feeding established. Baby was kind of shoved on the boob and off we went.
My poor baby girl was getting more and more frantic as the hours went on. We had a kindly nurse that would try to take baby so I could try to sleep, but it didn’t help much. No one had told me/warned me about the feeding frenzy that occurs around 24-36 hours after birth, where baby goes a bit nuts feeding to kickstart your supply. My poor girl was so hungry and would wail every time she was taken off the boob. Next door to me another mother was in the same situation but her baby was so much more vocal in it’s distress. I should point out that there only seemed to be one lactation consultant per shift at RPA Women and Babies, which I found quite surprising. So in effect, we didn’t get much attention.
All of this resulted in a hideously damaged nipple that didn’t heal for ages, and a baby that was rapidly losing weight and very, very upset (though we didn’t know at the time as they don’t weigh the babies until you’re about to leave). With no sleep, and recovering from a very unexpected caesar (I was meant to have my baby in the birth centre) breastfeeding was HARD. Really fucking hard. But, I felt like I had to persist. If I couldn’t have my natural birth, I was damn well going to feed my baby!
So horrible wizened, hunchback nurse, bought in breast pump, gave me a quick run down on how to use it, made me sign consent form to give baby formula (which resulted in one contented baby) and left me to it. And thus began the merry go round: feed, pump, feed expressed breast milk, formula top up
I was in so much pain, not from the ceasar but from my damaged nipples. And, I felt an absolute failure. But I kept going. At my home visit with the community nurse, she checked my nipples, promptly told me to stop feeding with the damaged one till it healed and to pump only, and to go visit the breastfeeding clinic in Glebe, and told me fenugreek would help. She was a lifesaver. So was the clinic. They fixed baby’s attachment and got me sorted. I researched lactation cookies (secret ingredients: brewer’s yeast and linseed meal/flax), and got myself some tea. I drank the tea, ate the cookies and pumped like it was going out of fashion to establish my supply. It took about 3 months (I think: this whole beginning bit is pretty fuzzy).
I was so proud, and happy when I got my supply up and was able to drop the formula.
And it’s why I’m so sad that I didn’t get to enjoy and cherish my last few breastfeeds with my little monkey.
I had no idea I would feel so sad about it. I guess maybe it’s about the separation of parent and child? She’s not my baby anymore. She’s a sparky little toddler and doesn’t rely on me in the same way anymore.
I love this image, because it sums up for me in so many small details why I love breastfeeding: the intimacy, the tenderness, the nurturing, and I love that it’s not a tiny baby.
I really, really hope I can breastfeed another child. It really was the most amazing and bonding experience in spite of the difficulties we faced early on.