I Don’t Know How To Stop

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I had a very lackadaisical attitude towards breastfeeding before Miss Rose was born. I wanted to try, was totally prepared to go with formula if I didn’t like it or I couldn’t do it. Then after it worked I was going to introduce a bottle of formula after a few weeks and combination feed. Then I was going to gradually reduce breast feeds until after six months she was entirely on formula.

It didn’t work out that way.

I tried to introduce a bottle of formula after about a month, she wouldn’t take it. I tried again a couple of weeks later, and again it was refused. Again a month later, not a chance. In the end I stopped trying.

After six months I decided to try again. I tried in different bottles with different teats. I tried in sippy cups with different spouts. I tried in plastic, glass and china cups. It wasn’t going to happen.

She is now seven and a half months and we are still going strong on the breast feeding. The problem is, I don’t know how to stop. I feel like I’m on a runaway train with no stop in sight and whilst I’m glad to be aboard now I want to know I have a safe landing.

I can see how I will drop feeds during the day. She’s taking more solids, happily drinking water, and is taking fewer feeds naturally. I feed her in my bed in the morning as a way of getting an hour extra in bed, but I can just get up early should I decide to stop feeding. The problem will be night time.

Miss Rose’s bedtime routine is dinner, naked time, bath time, story time, booby time, bedtime. Breast feeding is an intrinsic part of her bedtime. I usually put her down when she’s either dopey and milk drunk so she settles almost immediately, or she falls asleep completely and I just slide her in. I know I am supposed to put her down awake but if she falls asleep completely I’ll be damned if I wake her up. One day I am going to have to say “no”. I think she is unlikely to wean off the bedtime boob naturally any time soon, and I am also struggling to feel comfortable with the idea of refusing it. And when would I do it? What day would I just decide no more? The idea of doing that to her makes me hurt inside, but the idea of not doing it makes me feel extremely anxious.

The other problem is she is now big enough, strong willed enough, and aware enough to breast feed without my “consent” as it were. At baby group a couple of weeks ago she was sat on my lap, turned, pulled my top down and latched on. When we’re having naked time and lying on the bed whilst I talk to her and sing to her she is now able to roll or scooch herself over to me and attach herself to my exposed breast. In the bath when I’m washing her and we’re having a cuddle she suddenly moves herself and is there, feeding. To say I feel violated would be too strong a term, but it’s coming close. When I offer boob it’s fine, but when she just takes it?

I’ve always said I would want to stop breast feeding when she’s old enough to ask for it. Thing is, she’s skipped asking and started just taking, but I can’t stop. I have no choice. Not without causing her incredible distress. “When she gets hungry enough she’ll take a bottle” is something I’m regularly told. a) I’m not willing to put her through painful hunger for the sake of my convenience and b) I’m actually happy to breast feed for a while yet, I’m just aware I will want to stop.

My hope is that once she’s 1 she will start to take full fat cow’s milk as a proper drink and I will be able to just give her a bottle of that to send her off to sleep at bedtime, but I am horribly concerned that it will never happen. At some point I am going to have to make that awful decision to refuse. Breast feeding is more than just feeding, it’s comfort, intimacy, closeness, warmth. When I feed her in bed with me at night and we are lying down if I slow my breathing she slows hers. We breathe deeply and slowly together. One day (hopefully) she will stop needing night feeds and perhaps that bedtime feed will be the last close time we share. If I decide to stop then I am one day deciding that it’s the last breast feed I will do. To decide to end that close, special tie. This is my last breast feed.

It makes me want to cry. As much as I want to stop one day, and as comfortable as I imagine myself feeling with stopping now if necessary, the idea of actually doing it, making that decision, it hurts. I wanted her to stop naturally. To just gradually lessen her feeds and stop needing them until one day I realise she’s not fed for a while. That’s how I had always imagined it going and I was completely comfortable with that. But I don’t know if that’s going to happen. I am scared. I don’t know how to stop and as much as I want to I also don’t want to and I don’t know what to do.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and The Boy (Jonathan McKinney) and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!


8 responses to “I Don’t Know How To Stop

  1. I think you are doing wonderful, and all your thoughts are totally normal. 🙂

    I’m a mother of five children, with the last 4 all under two years apart. So I have been breastfeeding for 9 years it seems!

    Hope you don’t mind my comments, couldn’t help reaching out.

    It is very normal to nurse until the age of two. First for nutrition, then later for emotional stability. What you ate doing is great! Supply and demand. Grocery store to emotional store. At close to the age of one, I did nap times, once at night and once in the morning (6+ a full 24 hour) sometimes more. However I’m unsure about the crawling to you to nurse. my children never did that.. but they did ask, usually close to sleepy time or when upset. Maybe they feel your withdraw or hesitation.. not sure. Either you continue nursing since your little one enjoys it so much and you are doing a great job providing, not everyone can do this, or, decrease till the time you think is right for you. Naps, one at night.. then take away am, then take away naps.. and leave nighttime last. (funny but mu children did not like ANY type of bottle or top K put in front of them, but they did like a rubbery soft straw that fits in drinking mugs for children’s lunch boxes, but i’d have to cut the top of the straw down to just under a 1/2 inch.. one years old with a big kid cup.. it worked though for mine)

    At out city health unit, great nurses are available to answer any questions. Maybe you have one you call if worried all. 🙂

    You sound like a wonderful mother and totally experiencing all the normal stuff that goes through our emotional breastfeeding mom’s heads. Almost like being on a period for EVER… well.. at least for me. Hope I helped answer some worries or questions. Please ask me anytime, love to offer my thoughts.
    We are all different though, things pulling us, you are very fortunate to provide this for your little one, but know she will tell you when she is done and you need to tell yourself when are you done too.. no matter how long you nurse. Sometimes what is best for mommy is what is best for baby too. Don’t worry.. you have done great!
    (when I was done nursing, one at 16 months, one at 18, one at 22 months.. was down to night nursing once.. and said “all done, booby all done”, they cried and cried, but the next day or two.. they said “all done back to me”.. lots of cuddling, but i thought at the time this is never going to end.. and it did, which surprise me)

    Have a wonderful day, good-luck,
    Tara 🙂


  2. I feel your pain, it’s something I’m gearing up towards as I move to combination feeding ready for nursery. I, too, am scared, and don’t know how I’ll cope if she refuses formula 😦


  3. evidencebasedtitsandteeth

    All I can say is everything passes. I was in exactly your position and started to resent boobing, mainly because I thought I was getting into bad habits (feeding to sleep etc). Every baby is different but I weaned my first using a straw at 12 months! She was just having a morning and evening feed by then and she had started to go to sleep on her own by then anyway. She’s 3.5, sleeps in her own bed and has done since 12 months. I let her get into my bed if she’s had a bad dream, but she’ll happily sleep in hers the next night.

    Baby number two took a bottle but still needs it to fall asleep at 16 months – way past when he should be weaned off a bottle. To be honest, I don’t really care because I know, just like with baby number one, nothing lasts forever – If only I could see this the first time round and relaxed, I would have cherished all those milky cuddles the first time round.

    You’re doing an amazing job. You will sleep again, I promise!



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