This is a bit of a personal post for me… and I’m actually still a little emotional about it all. But a few days before James celebrated his six month birthday, our breastfeeding journey came to an end. Let me share my story…
Firstly some context. My daughter (who will soon be four) was super relaxed with any type of feeding; we did mixed feeding for about five months. To be honest I can’t remember the exact dates because it was so much of a non-issue! Breast/ bottle/ formula… she took anything, anytime. I chose when to stop when I returned to work, I know many people successfully breastfeeding after going back to work but that wasn’t for me.
James could not have been more different. He absolutely refused to take a bottle for the first couple of months. I know I could have tried harder, but it was so disheartening to spend time expressing (especially as it took me time away from properly playing with my daughter), only for us to have to pour it away when he refused to take it.
But breastfeeding isn’t easy, right? Apart from the tiredness of always being ‘on duty’, I had so much pain that I had never experienced with a Jess. It seemed to come and go in phases, but aaagggghhhh when it was bad, those first few sucks after latching on were soooo painful! And every so often when I looked down and saw blood on his mouth- it was actually pretty traumatic!!!
There were positives though, I think I was much more relaxed breastfeeding in public with James (and was really proud when someone gave me a ‘Yes Mumma’ card- if you haven’t heard of them go look it up). Maybe because I had already got the knack of being discreet with baby one I was much more confident!
Eventually, with the appeal of a break getting bigger and bigger we persevered with formula. Every night for about two weeks we tried, and eventually he started taking the bottle, woooohoooooo! I headed straight to bed for an actual nap and left my husband to it!!
After that we started giving him a bottle or two of formula every day. Those of you who followed me on social media when a James was first born may remember his screaming. Constant screaming. Well, once he started taking bottles he calmed right down! He actually seemed satisfied! It was like having a different baby.
So I was quite happy mixed feeding, and had thought that like my daughter I would be able to continue this until I decided to finish it. But James had different ideas. Whilst he was quite happy breastfeeding through the night and in the mornings, he would cry and arch his back through the day time. So we settled into a sort of routine… and I was pretty happy breastfeeding at night, it was so much easier at 2am when you get up without having to make up a bottle!
But he started refusing breastfeeding more and more. In November, we went on holiday. On the plane, I had planned on breastfeeding him during take off. He refused, and that pretty much set the tone for the holiday. I think he was going through a growth spurt or something because every night he was waking up every hour and screaming, but would not take anything other than formula. And so that was that. I returned from holiday having not breastfed for a week, and had completely dried up. Just like that my breastfeeding journey was over.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Yes, once he started taking bottles it probably would have been a good time to try expressing again. Yes, I could have tried breastfeeding again once we returned back from holiday, and probably still could. But to be honest it’s quite upsetting seeing your baby screaming when you try to feed him and I don’t really want to have to see it again!
I think my friend unwittingly hit the nail on the head when trying to think why I was so upset about it all; I hadn’t realised that the last time I fed him would be my last time. With Jess I made the decision myself, I was able to enjoy those last cuddles and treasure them. James took that away from me, and I can’t remember the last time. I don’t remember the last post-feed cuddles, the sleepy milk-drunk yawn and snuggle. My last feed was probably a 3am grump, where I was willing him to hurry up so I could get back to sleep. I probably didn’t take the runtime to enjoy it.
I really didn’t think I’d be emotional about finishing. To be honest I thought I was ready, and the upset was really unexpected!
So we got to nearly 6 months. Cut shorter than I wanted, but longer than Jess so I should be happy. Let me finish by saying, breastfeeding was my choice. It’s not for everyone and not possible for everyone. So let’s make sure any comments on this, as well as discussions about feeding in general are positive. After all, FED IS BEST.