From about four months, Sammy began to get fussy with breastfeeding. Since then I battled hopelessly, until a few weeks ago at seven months when he dropped his 4am night feed.
It had amazed me in the first place that he’d taken to it with ease. He was a speedy little drinker, with no problems latching from the moment he was first in my arms. I didn’t care about the toe-curling pain in the first few weeks because I loved it so much. I imagined a year of cosy nursing cuddles after a bedtime story and lazy snuggles in the morning. The pictures are there on Instagram; the co-sleeping earth mamas with their littles suckling under their t-shirts.
He’s no cuddler though. Never can I get him to lie next to me, he wants to upright, seeing the world (or our blank bedroom walls). I’d try and try but he’d get so frustrated, arching his back, straining his neck round and pushing me away. I thought it might be a phase. So I pumped. I pumped and pumped all day long for weeks, trying to up my supply so there’d be enough when he was ready. Between that and work I was stressed. Babies don’t stop feeding this young do they? He was drinking milk from a bottle so it’s not like he was going without. I wanted to hold him close and tight, to enjoy that bond that is so short. I put so much pressure on myself and unfairly on him. I’d lie him in the nursing position and he’d scream. It took me a long time to accept that he was done, even if I wasn’t. I’m just about ok with it now. Just.
I’d cry and cry. Nobody warns you about the lows you can feel when you stop nursing. Just thinking about it would send a lump to my throat and tears to prickle my eyes. I’d have panic attacks frequently and struggle to breathe. Who knew post weaning depression was a thing? The anxiety was constant and consuming and the guilt I felt was huge. The guilt of failure, the guilt of not taking him out enough because I just couldn’t cope, and the fear that it wouldn’t leave.
But it did. Slowly but surely, we’ve adapted. Hopefully my sadness has passed and I can get back to feeling on top of things. Now I can say how lucky I feel to have been able to experience it at all and I hate how ungrateful I must sound. You speak to mama’s who wish they had been able to feed and you speak to mama’s who wish their babe would take a bottle. I guess I had a happy medium. And although it was tough, there were plenty of happy times amongst the blue.
During pregnancy I had convinced myself I wouldn’t be able to nurse and I’ll probably do that again. But here’s secretly hoping I get another chance one day.