Last Friday was my 33rd Birthday. It was a fairly uneventful one (aren’t they all after having kids?) but I’ll no doubt remember this one. It was the last day I breastfed Luella.
I’d been dragging her around all morning in the rain as I had a few appointments and then wanted to get brunch out with her and she was being a great sport about it. Though we had mostly cut out daytime feeds, when she woke from her afternoon nap I gave her a little feed and a snuggle. That night she slept through till 4ish and went back to sleep without a feed. When we woke again a few hours later I couldn’t believe it.
By that night I thought my boobs were going to explode so I pumped just enough to relieve the pressure. Again she went another night without it and I had to pump again.
Then on Sunday she woke up from her afternoon nap, very sooky. I lay down next to her and pulled her on top of me for a cuddle. She then asked for “baba” for the first time in days. I said to her, “Luella, I think it’s time to say goodbye to baba.”
We’d been preparing for this moment. We’d had lots of talks in the weeks leading up about how she was growing up into a big girl and that meant we’d have to say bye bye to baba soon, but that being a big girl also meant she could do lots of things – like go down the slide by herself and pick out her own clothes. In fact it had become part of our naptime routine and she’d often fall asleep while listening to me tell her the “big girl story”.
But Sunday. On Sunday she knew. When I told her it was time to say goodbye her face crumpled into the most heartbreaking face I’ve ever seen. She cried big tears and so did I. I held her and told her it was ok to be sad, that mummy was sad too.
She got over it pretty quickly and was onto colouring within a few minutes. I was a bit more melancholy. My baby wasn’t a baby any more.
Since then she doesn’t ask for it anymore. Actually that’s not true. She often asks to “touch baba” and sometimes adds “no eat it, just touch it” in a very matter-of-fact way. It is admittedly a little weird but I figure it’s helping her let go.
My emotions are obviously very mixed over it. So relieved to not have the pain anymore. If it’s any indication – a week later I still have scabs and peeling skin around my nipples. I also still have plenty of milk. A few times I expressed and gave her a little but she’s not too interested. My boobs don’t really hurt anymore but sometimes feel itchy.
There’s definitely some guilt. While I know 23 months is nothing to feel ashamed of, I still wish the process had been a bit more child-led. When I googled how to help with engorgement, the first article I read said something along the lines of “If you’re engorged, you’re weaning too fast. Go feed your baby, you slacker mum.” (I may have made the last sentence up, but it was totally implied.)
At the same time, it’s also a little bit liberating. I bought my first “normal” bra in two years over the weekend. I can go out and get trashed if I want to. I don’t have to hear my husband say “she just wants you, you have the boobs” anymore.
It hasn’t affected our relationship at all like I’d feared. Night waking has been ok – we either cuddle back to sleep or sometimes she asks me to sing. Singing requires a bit more brain power than popping out a boob but it’s been manageable. Still holding out for her to maybe one day start sleeping through consistently.
Mostly though, I just feel the sadness that comes with the end of an era. I’m proud of what my body was able to do and the bond it helped us build. Now we’re moving on.