I was going to start this post by noting that breastfeeding has been in the news a bit lately, what with the tragic suicide of Katy Isden but then when I thought about it a little more I realised it has been in the news for ages. It is always in the bloody news! Breastfeeding is one of those topics that always draws a crowd and usually an opinionated one at that.
For as long as I have been reading parenting magazines and perusing parenting/childbirth Internet forums I have found the term Breastfeeding Relationship a little hard to swallow. I can't quite say what it is about it that I dislike, but it really annoys me. Not as much as Birth Rape though, that is one term that really gets my goat. I'm getting angry just thinking about how much I hate that term. Don't get me started! Another concept I have never really grasped is the ABA Meeting. I don't feel the need to attend a get together with a bunch of mothers who breastfeed. It seems off to me, like we should also have meeting for mothers who push red prams, or others who feed formula or mothers who don't eat meat. I don't know, it irks me.
My little Tinker is now 16 months old and still breastfeeds. Well, that was the case until I got sick last week and discovered that 2 days of vomiting not only dehydrates a person but it also stops lactation. My daughter has never been a good eater, so she is quite attached to her 4 daily breast feeds. I had no intention of weaning her, my plan was to allow her to self wean when she was ready. I had guessed it would be from around age 2 but I didn't really know.
Now that I have had to wean her all of a sudden I have had to face some unexpected feelings. Guilt is one of them, of course. I think mothers are just programmed to feel permanently guilty aren't they? Feeling bad that the child tripped and fell, feeling bad that the nappy wasn't fastened correctly so it pinched her skin, feeling bad that the garden still isn't finished and the child doesn't have a lawn to run on yet, feeling bad for parking the child in front of Teletubbies so Mama could have a shower alone... It goes on. Feeling guilty wasn't a surprise but what was surprising was my grief.
It wasn't because Tinker was throwing herself at my chest 20 times a day yelling "mama please, mooolk? all gone mama? mooolk all gone? Nooooo!" because that was sad and it did break my heart but I think the sadness that I felt at the loss of... dare I say it... our breastfeeding relationship was actually real and it wasn't felt in response to her being so upset. I felt sad for me. I felt sad that I could no longer be the ultimate comfort for my baby and I felt sad that I couldn't allow her to gradually stop doing something that came naturally to both of us.
Being of average emotional intelligence I can't put my finger on why it is so important to me, but it is. All the other overwhelming feelings you get as a new mother were not surprising to me. I was not surprised at the protective lioness I became nor the completely irrational sleep deprived nut case I became after a year went by and I still didn't have my baby sleeping through the night. However this grief about having to wean her, and wean me has been a real shock.
I'm torn between getting medication to kick start the lactation again or just persevering with this weaning process. So far I have managed to get her to a point where she isn't hysterical about not having the breastfeeds in the day time but she is still hanging on to the 7pm and 7am feeds. For now there is a small amount there but it won't last so I guess in a few days it will be gone and I suppose she will then have to accept that she has weaned. And so will I.
I'm interested in your thoughts on this topic.