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