I realised recently it is about a year since M last breastfed. She was a little over 2 years old, and I was about 16 weeks pregnant. I had not long lost my milk supply, though M would insist it was still there and “yummy”. I had no real plans to nurse during pregnancy, or to tandem nurse when the baby arrived, but I was willing to give it a go. However, ‘giving it a go’ was never going to be enough to keep me going through the bizarre roller-coaster of hormones and emotions that pregnancy brings, leading to soreness, irritability, skin-creeping sensations whenever she latched on. We were just down to once a day, at bedtime (and even then, not every night).
One night I was bathing with M, and I said to her “M, there’s no milk left in mummy’s boobies, is there?” (yes, I know this was a leading question – that was deliberate).
M replied sadly “Nooo”.
“The milk has gone away because it’s feeding baby now. I think tonight maybe we should just cuddle, and save the milk for baby?”
And that was it. No more nursing. I was ready to stop. M was old enough to understand why she was being asked to stop. It was gentle, and there were no tears. It was the right time to stop. M never asked to nurse again, though she used to hint a lot. In the bath was the worst, because my boobs were right there. She would lay her head on my chest and say “Mummy, I really love your boobies! But there’s no milk left…”. It was sort of sad, but M got comfort by just cuddling my boobs for a long time. After a while she stopped doing that as much. Now I doubt she remembers feeding at all, though she does still cuddle my boobs and tells me they are “beautiful”.
I was thinking of some other fond memories I have of nursing M. There are a few of the ones I remember the clearest.
When M was about 14 months and was learning to communicate through a mixture of sign language, spoken word and gestures, she figured out she could ask for the boob she wanted to feed from by pointing and saying “dat”. She was also going through a very inquisitive phase where she wanted to sit upright to feed. Hence many feeds took place with her sitting upright on my lap, taking great delight in pointing at each boob in turn and saying “dat” to skip from side to side. Thing is, when a toddler is sitting up on your lap they do not cover your boobs at all, so pretty much everything was on show for the few weeks she did this for. Every time I went out, my boobs were on full show during each feed while M popped on and off demanding “dat”.
By the time M was 18 months she was down to feeding just for sleep, which meant we didn’t do much feeding out and about. However, one hot day we were at Monkey World for a friend’s birthday and M was hot, over-tired and frustrated, going up-down from the sling to the floor, overwhelmed by the crowds. As I sensed we were approaching melt-down I bundled her up in my arms, marched to a bench in the shade and fed her. It was boiling and I wasn’t about to try and nurse discretely, so I was feeling a little self-conscious of everyone walking past. No-one batted an eyelid though. Heck, the monkeys were doing it in the open, I guess no-one was bothered by a human mama!
On a holiday to Devon, M 7 months, Tom and I headed off Geocaching which involved a very long walk up a very steep and windy cliff. Right at the top, M asked for a feed. So I sat down on the only bench and fed her. We have this magnificent photo of this moment – sun shining, but wind blowing a force, the wrap and my hair caught in the wind and M balanced on my la as my feet wouldn’t reach this floor from the too-high bench.
Night times, always night times. Warm, snuggly, cuddly, sleepy nursing in bed. I don’t care about not getting a full night’s sleep, because the night nursing is wonderful! I missed that when M moved into her own room, but am loving it once more now!
Since M went to nursery right next door to where I work, I was able to visit her often during the day to nurse her. I would always nurse her when I dropped her off, and when I picked her up, too, at the end of the day. Even after I stopped pumping for her during the day, those two feeds stayed for a long time. The morning feed dropped first as M was too keen to explore and play, but the reuniting feed at the end of the working day continued long into the toddler room. I sat on the toddler-sized sofa to nurse M, and other toddlers would come and bring me stories to read to them. Seems grown-up sitting down = stories being read! One mum would come over to me and ask “Are you still feeding M?” in hushed tones and when I said yes she sighed with relief and said “Oh, thank goodness! I thought it was just me bonkers enough to still be doing it!”. She’d ask me the same question now and again, always with the same response. I would tell her she wasn’t bonkers, and breastfeeding a toddler was natural and fun! I don’t think she always believed me though…