Although discussions regarding the details of my return to work are still ongoing, it is clear that I’m going to have to give up breastfeeding eventually.
Despite this being self-evident from the start, what I wasn’t expecting was to feel sad about beginning to cut down on feeding Reindeer. I was startled today when, watching him feed, it suddenly hit me how important breastfeeding has been in creating our bond.
All those breastfeeds where I sat in the dark and got to see that the world doesn’t stop at night, that people come and go about their business. The nights when I was breastfeeding whilst watching the dawn arrive. The early hours of his first night in the world, his first night at home, Christmas Day, my birthday, Mother’s Day, our wedding anniversary, all spent breastfeeding this little person. All the times when I’ve dropped everything, no matter where I was or what I was doing, to ensure Reindeer fed when he needed to rather than when I wanted him to.
All of this and a thousand other memories, all linked to breastfeeding. They aren’t all happy. Many of the earliest memories are very painful and stressful, when I was hurting, exhausted, emotional and afraid I’d get it wrong. But all of these memories were made together.
It will probably take until Reindeer is a year old before we’ve dropped the day feeds – he usually has 3-4 now but I want to phase them out gradually – until we only have his morning and bedtime feeds ready for me to go back to work. The WHO recommend breastfeeding until babies are two-years-old for maximum health benefits, so I’m happy to keep going for both our sakes, although I didn’t think I’d want to when I was contemplating breastfeeding from the position of mother-to-be!
I’m going to miss those times, but I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to breastfeed as I know it isn’t something to be taken for granted. Hopefully it has helped create a strong bond which will only improve with time.