The moment I’ve dreaded?
Is this it, the moment which I’ve dreaded?
Hope and I went to the La Leche League baby group yesterday morning and had a happy time sitting feeding, chatting to other mummies and Hope managed to cover herself in the not terribly washable ‘washable’ pen while she created a masterpiece.
There were a couple of new mummies there learning about latching and positions, “nose to nipple” etc … several people commented on Hope’s contented slurping and her easy confidence and I spoke to a couple of people about when they stopped or planned to stop breastfeeding.
My joke has always been, when she’s 18 if she doesn’t decide herself before … it has seemed the right thing to carry on until she herself decided she wanted to stop. Not for everyone, but right for us.
We came home, she had another snack and a huge lunch of pasta pesto and ham and then a snooze before we headed down to the Cambridge Folk Festival.
On the walk she sat upright in her old pushchair with her pink hat on waving at everyone who would wave back and we stopped for an ice cream which she ate with gusto.
We arrived at the Folk Festival site and I was amazed to see that almost everyone going in was with children or pushchairs and babies younger than Hope. The sun shone and the music started filtering through the buzzing crowd. Hope was in her element clapping, dancing and waving. We found some friends and she happily sat on Lou’s lap listening to the music, jigging away to herself and applauding at the end of each song. It was very mellow.
Then we went for a wander and she wanted to walk around by herself a bit, holding my hand at first and then on her own, a little unsteady to start but increasingly confident and then cross with me when I stopped her heading into the beer tent or under a table in the stalls area. Miss Independent then suddenly looked up and shouted, “milky”, as always that warmed my heart and we found a shady patch under a tree and she had a little feast and a bit of ham, olives and cucumber as well. She pointed to her water cup, “water water”, I gave it to her, “ankoooo” she said politely and smiled as she went to drink. She put it into her mouth and suddenly shrieked as if stung by a wasp … she hadn’t been, but the spout of the drinking cup had hit the area by her back molars where they are still battling their painful way through her little gums.
She didn’t stop crying for ages, she wouldn’t feed, didn’t want to be held and was just inconsolable. We went for another little walk which seemed to calm her and I tried to give her some more milky … she put her mouth over my nipple and fell asleep, she didn’t drink. I tried to put her in the pushchair and she woke up … we repeated the exercise several times and in the end she dozed off and we pottered around the perimeter of the festival listening to The Levellers play in the distance and watching all the cheerful people.
She woke up before the end of the set and asked to be picked up so I stood up holding her and she waved and sang and watched intently while the band sang one of my favourites of theirs, “There’s only one way of life, and that’s your own”.
Silence fell, we turned the pushchair round and made our way back through the crowd and out into the far less cheerful real world for the walk home. Hope slept peacefully and I marched up the road enjoying all the scents of flowers on the breeze.
When we got home I put her into bed, she woke up and called for milky, I got her on my lap to feed but again she only put her mouth over my nipple and fell asleep. I put it down to the toothache. During the night she woke crying obviously in huge discomfort with her teeth, in the end I gave her some paracetamol but when I tried to comfort her with nursing she just didn’t want to, it was as if she’d forgotten how to suckle.
We had a long and difficult night and in the end at 7am she fell asleep and my right breast hurt so much from being so full that I pumped some milk … she woke and watched me and reached for the cup. I offered her her more normal feeding station but she didn’t want it and instead reached for the breastpump. Then she feel asleep again.
She did feed a tiny bit from the left side before we had a bath, but is showing absolutely no interest for the first time ever in proper feeding, not even in the bath when she normally loves to climb my tummy and latch on for a small snack.
So, maybe it’s the toothache being worse than normal, or maybe she’s decided … that at 18 months it’s time to call it a day. I know we’ve been lucky to carry on so long and again I know it’s not for everyone but it has suited our situation so well.
I feel achy and tired this morning and with a heavy sadness at the thought that perhaps I won’t be watching her slurp contentedly again.
We shall see, but it is as if something has crossed over inside her and maybe at the point of independence with walking she needs to break free from breastfeeding too. I hope not, but that’s just me being selfish as I realise quite what a huge deal it will be for me emotionally and personally when she really does stop permanently. Breastfeeding has been one of the absolute joys of the last 18 months and the intimacy and precious times it has allowed us are something I cherish dearly.
I think if it continues today I might email or text one of the lovely LLL ladies to see if they have any ideas on how to tempt her back …
but maybe, the moment I’ve been dreading has come, suddenly, from nowhere, out of the blue and for the first time of, I’m sure, many in our lives ahead she has made a decision that I will have to accept however much it hurts or makes me melancholy.
sorry for the indulgent post, but it is a huge huge landmark or perhaps just the beginning of it, on our journey.