Any day now could be the last time I'll ever breastfeed. It's such a bittersweet time.
On the one hand, I've been looking forward to the last breastfeed for about a year, because it's just a bit uncomfortable feeding a growing toddler/pre-schooler. On the other hand it'll be the end of mothering small children, and in a way we're still hanging on there in that respect.
We haven't nursed in public for a long time now, and only very occasionally in the presence of good friends. That's ok, I appreciate that it's not the norm to nurse beyond a year, and the few negative comments I got did hurt so we kept it hidden. But I'm too defiant to keep it hidden good and proper, after all, I'm not a blogger if it wasn't for a certain happiness to share what matters to me.
All in all I breastfed just over 5 years, and considering the rubbish start to it I had, when I literally kept going just for one other feed, and repeat, I am happy and somewhat proud of this achievement. Not in a way that should make anyone feel less than good about themselves, but there's no harm in feeling good about something.
Snowflake sure was attached to her mimi, This recommended weaning approach of "don't offer, don't refuse" would probably mean she'd still be exclusively breastfed. I had secretly hoped for self weaning but it became pretty clear that this child won't self wean. We've been trying seriously to fully wean for about a year (a process that took a month with Cubling). This is what she says about mimi: "It's so yummy, it tastes like chocolate, cheese, yoghurt and strawberries". Tonight, for the last time ever, I fed her to sleep. This magic moment when you watch your baby relax all muscles and surrender to sleep.The calmness, oneness, the being in the moment of it.
She hadn't asked for mimi in 4 days but I needed at least one last feed that was a proper closure, rather than the reluctant, half asleep 4am one that was the previous potentially last feed. Of course I don't know if this was it for good, but we're not far off.
While I'm a bit nostalgic about moving on, it's the right time too. This child of mine is growing up, she is independent and really doesn't need this particular comfort anymore.
I'm holding on to the memories, lest I forget, recalling them in these last suckles.
Syringe feeding her colostrum in hospital, my mucussy c-section baby.
The frst proper milk feed, still in hospital, and her milk drunk face captured on my phone.
The amazement when I realised that breastfeeding could be pain free. The anger when I realised that something could have been done about the pain I'd experienced 3 1/2 years earlier and that it was only now that I found out about tongue tie and lip tie.
Waking up due to fullness and this tiny moany cry right beside me, instead of sleeping through and possibly waking up to her never waking up again.
Feeding her through her illness, keeping her nil by mouth twice pre-op, and the comfort that those hospital feeds brought us both. When it seemed that her health is outwith my control, it gave me something I felt I could do for her.
Feeding her in almost every place imaginable.
Feeding her through smaller illnesses, when she regularly refused all other food, she never refused this, which was reassuring.
Walking out of the GP surgery after a tirade of how I should stop breastfeeding instantly (she was 10 months), without a word because I knew there was just no point in arguing.
That first feed to reconnect after nursery pick up when I returned to work. That last feed before leaving her, in the nursery chair (she never took the formula offered, and opted to wait for my milk on my work days)
Being confused by people saying how it's so hard for me to be still breastfeeding when actually, it's not.at.all. Breastfeeding was never a sacrifice I made, and somehow people still saw it as such.
Being amused at my beloved Mr Cartside telling everyone who cared to listen, regardless of how well we knew the person, how she's still breastfeeding, at 1,2 and then 3 years of age, and secretly enjoying how uncomfortable this disclosure made some people (and understanding their discomfort).
Far too many breastfeeding discussions initiated by me in the office (although I really didn't mean to)
Learning so much about the politics of breastfeeding and infant nutrition and how we as a society are being conned for profit.
Developing and expanding an interest in infant nutrition, and realising how critical an area this is for the nation's health.
The delight when Save the Children took up the importance of breastfeeding in the first hour after a baby's birth and took on Danone and Nestle. And developed a proper breastfeeding policy (too late for my babies but it's there for those soon to be born).
The chuckles had when my request for a room suitable for private expressing in the new office was passed on to the project manager responsible for setting up the new office. It was clear she (!) had never considered the idea of expressing milk and that someone would do this at work (surely, working mums don't breastfeed? They do? Really? How bizarre)
And of course the endless cuddles while feeding, the smiles while feeding, the relaxation and time out it gave me, the excuse to sit down and stop and admire my miracle baby.
The pride when my then 3 year old told the nursery that while the baby they were role playing with had a bottle, her own baby drank mimi. Even a 3 year old can challenge the normalisation of bottle feeding.
And here's hoping that my youngest, who won't see me nurse another baby, may remember in some way how nice mimi was and pass it on to the next generation.
And that's only the memories of my youngest's breastfeeding journey.