Time to stop

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I posted last night about Breastfeeding a Toddler. It’s something I’ve had written for a while, but I’d been saving it for the small one’s birthday on Tuesday. Knowing what I would be posting today, I have been dithering over whether to change it, but I decided to let it be – my feelings haven’t changed and it seemed fitting to post it as she turned two, in line with the WHO recommendations for breastfeeding.

Sadly, over the last few days, our situation has changed. Some of you will know that I have back problems which developed in pregnancy and am still fighting to return to work. The operation I had a couple of months ago has made a difference, but I am still unable to walk far and struggle with the pain.

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I saw my consultant this week and he thinks I may need further treatment. In the meantime, he has prescribed medication to improve the quality of my sleep and help with the fatigue. If I want to take this medication, I have to stop breastfeeding.

Until now, I have always chosen to bear the pain and work with breastfeeding safe painkillers, but this is different, as it offers something more than temporary pain relief. I talked it through with my consultant and he felt that now is “the time to stop breastfeeding”. It was said without judgement or prejudice, and it has made me think.

I feel less of a mother when I can’t do the things I would like with my daughter. I feel less of partner when I complain about every hug. I am lucky to have reached a stage with my daughter where breastfeeding itself is less important than our wider relationship and I feel she will benefit more from having a mobile, energetic mum, than from a few months more at the breast.

I am very sad that she won’t have the opportunity to self-wean and I’ve cried a good few tears over it, but I have decided that my consultant is right, and now is the time.

Despite my own sadness, particularly that I started without that “one last feed”, the physical process has been incredibly easy. The first night, when small one asked for mummy milk, I apologised and told her that it was all gone tonight and suggested cup milk and cuddles instead. She wasn’t impressed, but agreed and went to sleep without feeding. The following night, we repeated the process.

Last night, she didn’t ask. We read a book, she drank some cup milk, we cuddled, she slept. And I am sat here sobbing. My little girl is growing up.

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15 Replies to “Time to stop”

  1. I think it is hard either way – letting baby self-wean and not knowing what time will be "the last" or forcing a wean. I struggled emotionally with my first who self weaned. What ended up being the last feed was filled with him biting and being mean – not the memory I wanted. I force weaned my 2nd and that was traumatic in a completely different way. Now we're just waiting for baby #3 to arrive and growing our relationships in new ways! You need to do what is best for your whole family and it sounds like a wise decision – you will be able to do more and be there for your family more with this treatment. Hugs!

  2. Wow, this is an amazing post. You are doing what is best for your daughter and she is handling it just fine! Sometimes letting go is harder than hanging on!

  3. You know what? Like Zion said, there is never a "perfect" time to stop nursing. It's always hard. Whether you got that "last feed" or not. Either you make a decision, or it just happens and you look back and realize you never got to say goodbye. And then your baby goes to college, gets married…. :)Your post made me tear up though. It's very emotional. You're a very strong woman and mama to have given your little one your milk for so long, and you have so much love. It's about the love, not the milk, after all.

  4. This is a very touching post.. I’m dreading the day I have to give up breastfeeding, and I’m sure I’ll shed a fair few tears too! But I imagine there is never a ‘perfect’ time to give it up, and it sounds like your little one has made the transition easily. Well done for that- and for all the time you breastfeed for! xx

  5. I can understand your feelings. I have been having to take pain medication on and off for the last year and have been able to keep breastfeeding but at times there was the possibility that I might need to stop breastfeeding but luckily it didn’t cone to that. The mere thought of stopping before our time was terrifying so I can only imagine how you feel. I am now starting to think about the time when I am not feeding anymore and it is a scary thought (not that it is likely to be soon). Who will I be when I don’t breastfeed anymore? I have known nothing but pregnancy and breastfeeding for the last 3 years. However
    despite these fears there have been so exhauste that I haven’t been doing right by my family and it is so important that you are well so that you can be the mum you want to be. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much and I think having a good cry is important. Im nit being very eloquent this evening but I hope you get my meaning. ((())))

  6. I was breastfeeding for 17 months and I fully understand how hard it is foe a mother to give up nursing.I think it’s even harder for a mother than for a baby. I gave up because I was tired.I was in 3rd year in college when I had my baby.After 4th year summer exams,I was absolutely exhausted and I decided to say goodbye to nursing.I was crying and felt very bad like I failed as a parent.But in the end I have to appreciate myself for what i’ve done so far. I think you did great and I wish all the babies have mothers like you and other women commenting here:D

  7. Strong mamas here, both you and your commentors!! We do what we can with our babies and you have done your LO a great service. She transitioned so easily because of the foundation you build for her. She is growing up, and she is growing up strong because of you!!

  8. As a person with a disability that usually requires medications that cannot be used while breastfeeding, I am right there with you…except for one major difference…. I haven’t even started yet. I PRAY I can survive two years without those medications, without doing permanent damage. I applaud you for going as far as you have, and pray I find the same strength…this pregnancy has been hard enough :-(.

  9. ((((HUGS)))) – whatever the driving force, I don’t think it’s ever easy to say goodbye to a nursing relationship.. BUT, hopefully this is the start of a new, pain-free and enjoyable phase in both your lives. Brava mother! 🙂 xo

  10. crikey! only just commented on your other post. I have Hidradeninitis Suppuritiva and my dermatologist basically said if I want treatment I can’t breastfeed ( This was when I was pregnant so not even given a chance yet) I’ve chosen to keep going and deal with flare ups using diclofenac rather than take the long term antibiotics & steroids that would suppress them. it is tough going but my support group keep reminding me that I have to take care of myself too. You have done so well to reach this milestone – it’s time to take care of you.

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