I am officially a retired breast feeder and co-sleeper. Miss Rose is now a bottle baby in her own bedroom. Who’da thought it?
The decision to stop breast feeding was hard, very hard, and left me feeling both devastated and like a failure. I didn’t want to stop yet but as I wasn’t making enough milk to satisfy her she was biting me incredibly hard leaving both of us crying and frustrated. As she has never been accepting of a bottle I was extremely worried about how we were going to make the transition.
My boobs suffered more than any of us. Backed up is not description enough. My left one has been gently weeping whilst my right one has been swollen up the point that I am concerned I am going to explode in a blast of boob and milk. They burn. Touching them is agonising. Hug me and I will scream. Our friend, Uncle Jiminy, was coming over for dinner so I sent him to the supermarket to buy me cabbage. The poor lamb spent twenty minutes trying to decide whether to bring me red cabbage or white cabbage and was extremely miffed when he discovered it was for my boobs. When I peeled off leaves and stuffed them down my bra he looked at me with incredulity but, shockingly, it worked! Yes they still hurt, but it is definitely improved. No, I don’t know why.
We decided, under the advice of my Health Visitor, that to make it easiest for everyone she would need to have her own bedroom, as being in our room was too familiar with breast feeding, and for her daddy to do her bedtime routine so she wasn’t too traumatised by me refusing the breast when she’s used to having boob to get to sleep. This meant I had to relinquish full control of the whole process. I gave him strict instructions on what happens and when, and waited. I heard her crying, I heard him read her stories whilst she cried, and I heard him soothe her gently whilst she cried. I sat on the sofa and cried.
Eventually the silence fell and I realised she had accepted the bottle. With that realisation came the added knowledge that breast feeding was definitely over. For as long as she was refusing I had the fall back that I could go and feed her. If she continued to refuse then I was still her only option.
We expected the first night to be very, very hard. We decided that we would do no night feeds as if we were going to make changes this big we might get all of them made at once. To our shock she stayed asleep. Not all night, she woke up several times, but no more times than when she was in with us and we were able to soothe her back to sleep without a feed relatively easily. And she slept. She actually slept. Yes she woke up, but she went back to sleep. It took us both by surprise. We shared the night time soothings so I got more time in bed, even if I didn’t sleep, and so the whole thing was easier than anticipated.
The second night she slept more. She woke up twice. TWICE. She hasn’t woken up that little at night ever. Of course… she was sleeping so not waking me up… but I was awake so much worrying about the fact she wasn’t waking me up that I was completely exhausted the following day! I spent all night checking on her and obsessing about her.
The third night we reintroduced me into the routine. Before bathtime we have nudey time where we play in the bedroom in the buff for skin to skin and relaxation. I joined for nudey time (with a booby covering top on), then whilst he took her into the shower I had a bath and they waved to me through the shower screen. SHE SLEPT THROUGH. I kid you not. The child who doesn’t sleep for more than two hours at a time slept for THIRTEEN HOURS. I actually had to wake her up to get to playgroup on time! It was bizarre. I kept looking at her, checking her, she was alive and breathing and SLEEPING.
However, I have had to learn to take over the process myself. My husband is out at work tonight so bedtime was left to me. Terrified is not the word. How would I cope if she cried and pulled at me for my boobs? Would she accept the bottle from me? And… on a technical level… what are the physical mechanics of bottle feeding whilst reading a story? I have two hands! It’s this whole new world for me and trying to figure out how to do it all confuses the heck out of me!
But somehow I cracked it! Nudey time was great. She scrambled around her room playing with her toys and books, then coming back and climbing on me for a cuddle, then scooting off again. We had a shower where she splashed and giggled. Brushed her teeth successfully. Then into our pyjamas and under the blanket with the light off. Somehow I managed to read The Tale Of Samual Whiskers whilst she had her bottle. Then she started to doze off so I sat beside her bed and gently rested my hand on her, then took it away as she started to breathe deeply and soon she was asleep. I genuinely can’t get over how well it went.
I felt like a failure and I felt like I was letting her down. She now eats more and sleeps more. She wakes up happy and enjoys her bottle. She is no longer frustrated and upset by not getting enough milk from me and seems more relaxed. She had nearly ten months of breast milk and has moved onto a bottle at a time that suited her perfectly. She was ready and she is happy.
My boobs wreck but my baby is happy, and if my baby is happy then I can’t really be a failure at all, can I?
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!