If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, those early days when your baby is entirely dependent on you are exhausting. They’re tiring and stressful and hard. You know you have no choice, it’s you or nothing. Come pain, come sickness, you carry on feeding because your baby needs you.
In some ways the end of that high dependency stage looks like a sweet, sweet blessing. Once you start weaning them onto solids, once they start drinking from things other than breasts, you’ll be given some peace, some space. Other people can look after the baby, she’s more likely to sleep through the night, you don’t have to worry about where you are going to sit down comfortably to feed constantly.
But as it looms closer, it feels less like a blessing and more like a horrible nightmare.
My baby is five months old. I’m planning to baby lead wean with her, just as I did with Miss Rose, and that’ll start in the next couple of weeks.
Part of me is so excited. Not just for the reasons I mentioned before, but because it’s so much fun. Rose adored it. She was routinely covered in food, licking her fingers, tasting new things, and having a wonderful time. She still adores food, and she still gets coated in it. She loved it and I loved it. Seeing Baby B enjoy the same experience will be amazing.
I’m not having anymore babies. She’s my last. I’ll never be depended on so completely again. I’ll never be as important to anyone ever again. Sure I’ll be important, and there is no doubt Miss Rose still depends on me despite being able to eat an entire adult size pizza by herself. But the dependency of a new baby, where you’re their entire world, where they need you for survival on such a primal level that nobody else comes close to the value you hold… I’ll never have that again.
I know that’s a terribly selfish thought. I want to matter the most. But I do.
The time is coming that she will be going for sleepovers with her grandmothers like Miss Rose does. When she’ll be going off on day trips without me. When she’ll disappear through the school gates.
And then I’ll be alone. No more babies. Nobody needing me.
My last baby is in her last month of needing me so desperately. This is the last time I’ll be an exclusively breastfeeding mother. The last time I’ll matter so desperately to any child. One day I will do my last ever breastfeed.
It’s okay. I’ll still matter. And she’ll have a fabulous time with food. She’s fascinated by it and excited by it and burbles away watching us eat. I know I’ll love it and more importantly so will she.
But part of me will still pine for these early days that have gone by so fast. Just a blink and it’s over. She was this tiny, skinny little thing, too small for her newborn clothes, the length of a Barbie doll. Now she’s nearly too big for her 6-9 month clothes, she’s standing up just holding our fingers for balance, she’s burbling away and laughing. She’s turning into a little girl right in front of my eyes and she’ll never be my baby again.
I welcome my next adventure with her, and as with Miss Rose I’m certain to feel that every developmental stage is my favourite yet. I love watching them grow and change and learn and I’d never wish them back. But part of me will pine. Part of me will mourn. Never again will I have this experience.
These last weeks, these special days, for the very last time I’m essential in my daughter’s life. I shall treasure them. I shall be exhausted by them. And I’ll never have them back.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!