parenthood

The Last Feed: My BF Journey

Thursday, June 06, 2019tee

It’s been a year and I haven’t written her birth story yet. And here I am, ending another chapter- our breastfeeding journey together. 

I didn’t have success with breastfeeding J because of a lot of things, mainly complications of his birth and the time he spent in the NICU immediately after. Being a new mom, the shock of everything got to me and I didn’t realise it was going to be HARD. And a lot of HARD work by itself. Then the challenge was harder, with a baby from the NICU who was used to bottles by the time we had him 24/7. I was hard on myself and I just couldn’t deal, not thinking it was a new skill, something both me and the baby have to learn. 

I’d say with K, I was more prepared mentally and I had a different outlook as well. It did help that her birth didn’t have any complications and recovery was quicker this time around. 

That said, it still wasn’t easy. It took a lot of tears, frustration, anger, countless Lactation Consultant visits, breastfeeding sessions and what-have-yous. I didn’t have any long-term goal, I was soldiering through pain and difficulty and frustration and desperation. I was all about lasting this feed, making it through the day. Then making it through another day. Then the days became a week. Weeks turned into a month. In about 2-3 months in, it all clicked. We clicked. I never thought we would, and I was prepared to accept if we can’t. Breastfeeding is best and all that, but ultimately, FED is best. 

And here we are. It’s been almost a month since her last feed. 

On the last days of weaning her, I couldn’t help but have mixed emotions about it. 

Pride and a well-deserved pat on the back for persevering and lasting this long. When I started with this journey, it was probably the hardest skill I had to learn and endure. I spent time with lactation consultants here and there. I had to see one privately as a “Hail Mary” because I was so ready to call it quits. She asked me what my goal was. I said my goal was just to last “this feed”, and then “today”. With all the pain and difficulty and frustration from both of us, I was just taking it a feed at a time. 

Wistful and emotional because my baby has grown so much. Breastfeeding was our thing, a special bond we had. And now, we’ve come to this. A toddler in my hands. With teeth at that. How did that happen? 

Relieved that I get to have my boobs and a bit of myself back. Suddenly, she’s no longer reliant on me for anything. I am no longer “that” only person who can give her what she needs. She can have anything she wants from anybody, although she still prefers me any day as she’s been going through a clingy-phase lately. 

What a journey of ups and downs it has been. Yet what a blessing it has been to experience it too. To be able to share and witness my body able to sustain and nourish someone else. To have this experience and bond with her. 

I could remember how much time we’ve spent cuddling during the early days and how exhausting it was that sometimes I’d doze off with her in my arms. Those days when breastfeeding takes forever that I feel I was a slave to the clock. That the parent’s room was the place to be. I might be in the shops or the church, but I was a mainstay at the parents’ room. When you have to master the art of feeding discreetly in public especially when you haven’t mastered the nursing cover. During the early days, it felt like forever. But then time goes on. Days become months, the hour-long feeds become uber quick ones. The frequent feedings become less and less as she drops a feed here and there as she accommodates solids into her diet. Then the newborn you’ve been cradling becomes a toddler. Surprise, surprise. 

I could fondly remember the antics I did whilst breastfeeding. It wasn’t as glamorous and peaceful as the ads tell you. Thinking about the times I had to multi-task cooking, preparing J’s food, helping J at the toilet, reading J stories and books whilst breastfeeding still gives me the giggles. Sometimes, you just have to do what you have to. We made it, phew. 

I don’t have any words of wisdom to someone struggling with breastfeeding but to persevere. It’s true what they say, it’s all worth it. I don’t have any magic formula but to try and try. Only you know best.  But maybe, if you wait for a bit, try for more, it’d finally click. We’ve been lucky this time, I guess. And if you’re about to give up and feel that with all your best efforts, it’s not working- I’ve been there and that’s okay too. The ability to breastfeed or not does not define you as a mother. There are tons of ways to bond with your child. J and I are pretty tight. True, even if I only breastfed him for a month or so, and I may have missed this experience with him, there were tons of other ways for us to make up for it and bond.

To that someone who’s also feeling “stuck” and touched up feeling you’ve been doing feeding after feeding all day: you won’t believe it now, but one day it will be better. And then, it will be over altogether. And then you'll feel wistful and emotional and glad that you persevered.

Now onto the last feed ever. I thought it was going to be hard. I took a deep breath knowing it was our last. But she was ready. I was ready. At the end of the feed, of our very last feed, she pulled away. And shook her head to say she was done. Then I knew, I just knew... we’d be alright. 

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