Disclaimer: This post is about breastfeeding. If that topic makes you uncomfortable, please feel free to close this window and leave 🙂
When I was a brand new mom (read: lost zombie), I was terrified of breastfeeding. First there seemed to be no milk, and then there seemed to be a lot of milk, but baby V flatly refused to drink it. By the time we overcame all these “teething” issues and established an exclusively breast-fed routine, I was in a world of pain.
Every time baby V cried out of hunger, I was petrified! Because baby V hungry = at least 20 minutes of searing pain for me. Those were the days when tiny baby V hadn’t learnt the perfect latch yet, and simply gnawed at me to get all the milk he can. Although, thankfully, he seemed to be getting all the nutrition he needed, so that was one less worry for my addled brain. I read all sorts of “perfect latch” tutorials, watched multiple videos, and tried various nursing positions; but somehow, that perfect painless latch seemed to elude us.
There were days when he literally nursed round the clock. By the end of his first month, I was almost ready to give up. Well-meaning relatives advised me to nurse for at least 1.5 years. However, my mind voice laughed at me, as if to say “No way in hell will you be able to endure this for that long”.
Cut to today, where baby V is 2 years and 10 months old, and we have just completed our beautiful breastfeeding journey together. Looking back, one of the best decisions I’ve taken in my life is to ignore the “Baby needs breastmilk only for the first year” rule.
I joined this wonderful group on Facebook, which supports breastfeeding mothers. They educated me on the benefits of extended breastfeeding. I also read the stories of many mothers who had gone through far worse problems than mine, and still managed to exclusively breastfeed for at least a year. This motivated me to breastfeed baby V for as long as possible.
As time passed, baby V and I navigated our issues together, and by his 4th month, we had comfortably settled into a routine where I could nurse him without pain, and he was still getting his required nutrition. No compromises were ever made there.
Through the next 2.5 years, we nursed through sickness and health, through long, sleepless nights, on train and airplane rides, through the terrible twos and tantrums. Whenever baby V needed the comfort of his mother, or a good dose of natural antibiotics to help him get better, we knew exactly where to turn to.
There were multiple voices in the background crying, “What? You’re still feeding him?!” One popular myth that we busted was – Boys should be nursed much lesser than girls, because if boys see their mother’s breasts, they’re more inclined to become sexually active/abusive later on. I say that is bullshit. My son will treat women respectfully, because I would raise him so.
Gradually, as baby V turned 2.5 years old, I decided that this might be a good time to slow down on the nursing, so that baby V could eventually move to his own bed. One fine day, I sat him down for an “important discussion” (a little secret between us), and explained to him that I am going to gradually stop nursing him, and that he should know what to expect going forward.
The champ that he is, baby V understood immediately, and to my utter surprise, cooperated beautifully. When I said “No”, he understood that no means no, and didn’t pester me. Gradually, we decreased the nursing step by step, and suddenly today morning, I realised that he hasn’t asked me to nurse him for more than a week! Baby V stopped needing me to nurse him, and I didn’t even realise it for a full week. Another popular myth that we busted – it is harder to stop nursing boys than girls.
However, this realisation was extremely bittersweet for me, because although this was planned and executed, and although I knew this day was coming, it breaks my heart to realise that we no longer share this exclusive beautiful journey. Yes, there will be other cuddly moments, and we will share other journeys as he grows, but this one will always be the most special in my heart, because it was something that only I could provide for him.
The endless hugs and cuddles, the way he looks at me adoringly when he nurses.. I will miss all these and more.
My breastfeeding watch has ended!