Let’s hear it for the girls!

You know what’s happened around these here parts? I’ve stopped breastfeeding. Well, it just kind of happened. It’s been well over a week now since I last fed Mags and so I guess that kind of means we’re done right? No last significant, memorable feed. Just a refusal from her for a few days in a row, and then we’re done. The girls are done. After 3 kids, just over 20 months of feeding in total for all three of them, we’re done. The shop, is shut. Huh.

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Given that there will be no more children (unless I take a lover and accidentally fall preggers ala Bold & The Beautiful style) their job is done. And I feel that I must take a moment to acknowledge them for all that they did for my babies and of course take a moment to reflect on what a bastard of a job it was for me at times.

This was me with a day old Daisy in hospital. Can you see all the burst blood vessels all over my arms and chest? That was from 3 hours of pushing. No one should push for that long. And can you see that look my eyes? Exhausted. Terrified. In pain. These were the parts of breastfeeding that I really had no idea about when I had my first baby.

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My not so brilliant career with breastfeeding started at about 10pm on the 14th February 2007. There was a screaming baby who was REALLY pissed off she had been stuck in my birth canal for 3 hours and was ready to let me know it. I was terrified that I was the only one that would make her stop at that my parenting career had begun when all I really wanted to do was eat a large pizza have a cup of tea and sleep for 14 hours. There was a bad first attachment. No biggie right? Oh my, how that first bad attachment formed so many problems for me. In the following days there were midwives SHOVING Daisy’s little mouth onto my engorged, cracked and soon enough bleeding nipples. I would express and even though the milk was pink from BLOOD, I kept going because those midwives kept at me. I was really clueless, and exhausted and in pain.

We went home, and there lactation consultants consulted. There were phone calls to friends, sisters, midwives, anyone who would listen. There were cabbage leaves and mastitis and 5 weeks into my parenting career, a trip to Emergency with a rising tide of red infection that was soon diagnosed as a breast abscess. A BREAST ABSCESS. Daisy I spent 5 or so nights back in hospital with me on IV antibiotics having the abscess drained through a needle every day until it was sorted. And on I went, feeding away because the midwives told me to.

And then after a few months, it got easier and it was great. So much easier, convenient and a special bonding time between us both as we both got to know each other and get more confident. My not so brilliant breastfeeding career ended around the 6 month mark when I had to go back to work. Daise eventually took a bottle and I was happy to share the feeding and demands of night times with Rob for the first time. She was happy, I was happy. All good.

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Feeding with Harper was a little easier as I knew a little more of what I was doing. My engorged melons were drained well by a complete guzzler who took to feeding with the gusto she now sets aside for all things sweet and baked. Sure, there was mastitis, always with the mastitis, but we got through it all without too much trouble thanks to my piglets ways. I had more trouble with Harper when I stopped breastfeeding her for work (around the 5 month mark) and her eczema and asthma flared up with trips to the hospital for both, various rashes and viruses and tests and eventually having to be fed goats milk formula. I don’t remember much of my time feeding Harps, in fact, I don’t remember much if my time with Harper being little. She was sick a lot. I was stressed a lot. It was a pretty miserable time for us all really.

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Cue the winter of 2015 when Miss Maggie arrived.

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You know one of the big things that were in the “con” list of having another baby was breastfeeding. I just kind of sucked at it. I knew the initial pain and issues that I was prone to but like all things worth doing, nothing is easy, and if I stopped listening to the self sabotage and just got on with it, it wasn’t all that bad.

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In fact, breastfeeding the third time around really was a joy. I completely surrendered to it, demand feeding whenever she wanted to, throwing out all the things I did the first few time and just listening to my instinct. Were there issues? COURSE! Mastitis? Tick! NIPPLE THRUSH? Tick! Pain and tears and frustrations and all that? Yes! But we got through those first few months and from then on it was smooth sailing. Breastfeeding saved us on our trip to Italy. I remember my friend Amanda saying “you can’t cry with a boob in your mouth” and ain’t that the truth.

Maggie has grown and thrived and now she’s done with it. And I’m OK with that. There was general disinterest and then a flat out refusal I swear if she could have spoken she would have said to me “get that dried up thing OUT of my face for the love of all that’s holy woman”. I probably kept at it a little longer than she wanted, selfishly, being my last baby and all. But we’re done.

Huh.

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I’m not someone that is very Mother Earth. I struggle with the whole “carry them” philosophy because to be honest I feel suffocated by it. That doesn’t mean I love my children any less, or that I am not giving them all I could be, if I’m happy, they are happy. I’m thrilled that I was able to feed Maggie for 10 months, that the old girls had life in them yet! Despite my geriatric age bracket. I am amazed at what my body has been able to do, that it creates exactly what the baby needs, nutritionally and comfortingly.  It’s pretty cool right?

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I don’t care that some Mum’s breastfeed their kids until they are 8 or that others decide to not feed at all. I’m not one to frighten off new Mum’s with my war stories about how hard I found it, like any part of Motherhood, everyone is just doing the best they can, with love in mind and intention. I don’t think there is any difference to my girls having been fed for 5 months or 10, nor do I think it would have made a difference if I had continued to feed Maggie for a few more years. Each to their own. Keep doing your best. Love your kids. Be kind to yourself.

But today, I had to take to a moment to remember and acknowledge the old girls for all they have done in the past 10 years. From the first swelling when I found out I was pregnant for the first time almost 10 years ago now, to the deflated water balloons that appear to be left hanging on my body today. Thank you for providing comfort and nutrition for my children. I do wish you hadn’t been such a bastard to begin with, but I’m glad I stuck with it.

Hang up your maternity bra my friend, your work here is done.

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And while we’re here why not have a listen to this pearler? Just replace the word baby/boy for booby for best effect.

Do you have a breastfeeding story to share?
Anything you’d like to pass onto my girls on this special day?
Will there be an oversized greeting card from the other body parts do you think? A cake?
Actually, I think a cake if definitely in order.

Comments

  1. Tears today.

    Actual tears.

  2. Oh Beth! This is just so beautiful. My number 4 (& the last!) baby is almost 7 months and is well on his way to not wanting me anymore. Your words may have made me cry a little, reflecting on the crazy breast feeding journey of the last 9 years.
    But also how weird is that empty feeling once their dried up. I am not well equipped in the chest department so I think that they are like soggy pancakes…. Bahaha!
    Enjoy having your boobies back! 😉

    • Thanks Morgan..I’m afraid there’s not going to be much of them! Good luck on the last bit of your journey…I kind of wish I had known when it was the last time x

  3. Oh Beth you’ve made me feel clucky! I miss breastfeeding days. Well not the early ones, they were pure torture. While I was in hospital with my first he basically sucked my nipple totally off! All the nurses wanted to have a look at my damaged goods they were all cracked and bloody and hanging on by a thread. Luckily it healed and I was a pro for my second. Had him feeding perfectly by the time the doctor was sewing me up. It helped that he is a total piglet. It’s such a mix of emotions when they decide to give it up. You miss that special bonding time but at least you can drink wine anytime again. Thanks for sharing your memories xox

  4. I have a confession. I’ve never seen Footloose. Can you believe that? I’m netflixing it tonight. Stat.

    Happy Boobversary. It’s funny how these last milestones pass. Sometimes with a trumpet. Sometimes almost unnoticed. I had a ‘last feed’ moment with my eldest. We sat in bed. Had a last feed. Michael took photos. All very lovely. Middle one just stopped of his own accord around 11 months. I wasn’t aware it was our last feed. But then it was. And the baby girl hung in there for sooo much longer than I ever imagined. Three years. She’d still be at it if I let her. She pats her ‘mookies’ sometimes and says ‘my mookies’. Bless. It’s a special day. You did an incredible thing. Get yourself some baked goods and a glass of prosecco and toast the girls.

  5. I am a breast is best advocate however my first and only attached ok but there just wasn’t anything to be had. What little she did get was thrown up pretty much straight away in the first few days and she ended up in special care for the fortnight (she was 5 weeks prem). I would express and be lucky to get 20mls from each boob. Once I knocked over the uncapped bottle after an age on the old milking machine. Crying over spilt milk seemed appropriate. I swear the noise of the breast pump sounded like it was whispering “you suck”. So it was supplementary feeding from the get go. I will always be proud that we made it to three months, even though my breast milk was only really one feed a day. I tried my best my girl thrived on formula and in the end that is all that matters.

    • Unfortunately “my girls” didn’t want to come out and play either. My daughter was five weeks prem also. Despite everyones best efforts (me/mid-wife/doctor) my milk supply was pretty much non-existent too. Reading your post was EXACTLY my experience. I was devastated and then my best friend pointed out that little Miss CAGG had drunk more breast milk than her, her husband, my husband and myself put together. None of us had been breast fed (children of the late 1960/70s) and we had turned out OK. So although “breast is best” it wasn’t to be part of my parenting journey and I was lucky to have a support network that didn’t beat me up about it.

      • Exactly! I remember always just assuming that we were breastfed and I asked Mum and she was like “Oh I did that for 3 weeks!” I was amazed and then just realised how it so does NOT matter. Glad you had a good support around you – no one needs ANYTHING to make them feel bad with a new baby – it’s hard enough.

    • That’s exactly right! What an amazing effort you put in considering the circumstances…good on you!

  6. Rob’ll be thrilled.

  7. Beautifully written! Very similar at the moment on this end – those girls do need acknowledgment for all they did!

  8. I had the worst time breastfeeding my first born. Six weeks of cracked, bleeding nipples. A baby dropping weight. Feelings of failure at something that is meant to be easy and natural! But then over the Easter Long weekend of 2011, everything finally sorted itself out and I breastfed her for 18 months. My second child was a lot different and he took to it with great gusto. Only one minor cut which healed itself very quickly and we fed together for 18 months too. I do miss those quiet moments, oddly enough, the ones in the middle of the night where it’s just you and your baby and everything is peaceful. But my boobs have done their job too! Good job, Beth!

  9. Lisa McMenzie says

    Beth this is beautiful…not the bread abscess or the mastitis or the thrush but the rest,I loved breastfeeding especially my 2nd my daughter,I cried when it was over as knew I wouldn’t be able to conceive again,thank you it brings back beautiful memories for me Xx

  10. That’ll do girls, that’ll do. xx

  11. A confession: while I would NEVER wear one of those t-shirts that says “I make milk, what’s your superpower?” I secretly, quietly, gratefully believe that breastfeeding my three babies was my one true supermum moment. For me it was no-nonsense, painless and guilt-free. I just could do it, right from day one. I don’t know why, though – I never had any coaching, unless you count some hospital midwives pushing tiny baby mouths into position and telling me to relax my shoulders (which was excellent advice), and I didn’t read books or go to classes. It was just easy for me, the way some women have really “easy” (no doubt painful, but quick and emergency-free) labours. I was happy to move on at about 6 months though and some days I look back and wish I had kept going longer.

    I love the gratitude in this post and it’s reminded me to have gratitude for the role breastfeeding played in nourishing our children. It’s also reminded me how easy it was compared with the next stage – cooking, pureeing and mashing baby food. Let’s hear it for the boobs!

  12. Lovely ! I have an almost 8 month old and I can feel we’re cutting back..and its a little sad its almost done. I’ve loved breastfeeding my two boys. Both have been off the charts weight wise, chubby as hell while exclusively breastfed. We joke I have cream and not milk in there. While you crave the freedom a bottle brings, its just such a beautiful bonding time. You’re lucky you persevered Beth, it all worked out so well in the end. How amazing will it be though to be rid of those bloody maternity bras ☺

  13. Ahhh. My last feed was when we got home from our trip to India and that lad was 20 months old. I think I just kept feeding him over any patches where he thought he’d give up! The same went for the older lass – and put being pregnant for the last 4 months of her 22 months of being breast fed into the mix (stupid painful and I was the one that was pushing through to nourish this girl who was definitely eating everything). The main reasons I kept up was they loved it, I loved it and we did a lot of long haul travel and the comfort factor for them was huge.
    Enjoy wearing normal bras again!!

  14. I had my two in rapid succession (15 months apart), so my breastfeeding journey didn’t stretch out nearly anywhere 10 years, but it wasn’t without its hiccups. Midwives shoving babies on boobs – god, that took me back nearly 17 years ago like it was yesterday! The best advice I got was wait until baby’s mouth was open, WIDE open before you shoved them on – stopped lots of cracked nipples! Yes, I had mastitis too, with both. But my little boobies done good – so much milk! (so much my girl often choked on let down). About 9 months with my boy (I was 3 months preggers when we stopped, so not much of a break) and about 10 months with my girl. Both good and I’m proud of my boobs too. Well done Beth’s boobs!!

  15. Awww high five to boobs. I never had any problems, feed continuously for 6 yrs. Had to put band aids on the gals and said sore, no, sore, no etc. the three of them all had this happen to them the day after their 2nd Birthday – I knew they weren’t gonna give it up anytime soon by themselves. One whinged for a bit, the other two were great. Now I have a fourth, a real surprise Bub and I can assure you she will not be bf at two. Im feeling drained and completely over it but she’s already 14months old so I best get them band aids out.

    • I must say I did feel drained more often with Mags – age has to have something to do with it right? That and the other kids and life!

  16. Lauren @fairview_farmhouse says

    Aaawww Beth, I feel like this is something I can look forward to. My boobs have been through the wringer quite frankly. They go up with pregnancy, feed a baby for 12 months, they shrink over that time to basically golf balls in socks then they get all confused when they are meant to be getting themselves back to normal by plumping up again for another pregnancy. This is the fifth (and last!) time in 7 years they are plumping up for pregnancy. I may not be great at pregnancy and have some growth issues towards the last few weeks but I know that the girls just know what to do when the baby arrives. I have no idea how or why but with only a couple of bouts of mastitis over 4 kids, I’m extremely lucky. I do look forward to feeding this little one in 23 weeks time, but I will be happy/sad when it’s all said and done. Your post summed it up perfectly.

  17. I really think 3rd times the charm. Maybe when you decide to go for a 3rd, you know what you’re in for and you commit to it anyway, and also you’re just more relaxed about everything! Well done for giving it a good go!

  18. Good on you Beth! Breastfeeding can be a bloody tough gig at times.

    BTW – the hormonal changes brought on by weaning ALWAYS do a number on my mental state. Be kind to yourself for the next few weeks if you don’t feel like yourself. X

    • Omg, I thought I was the only one ! I’ve been weaning the past 3 weeks and I swear I feel AWFUL ! No sign of that-time-of-the-month yet, but I almost wish it would arrive to out me out of my misery ?

    • Thanks Claire – you know I think it has certainly thrown them into a spin (the hormones that is) thanks for reminding me what it might be from!

  19. Gosh I related to your tale about the early days with Daisy. It was inhumane. First baby, not a clue what to do and in a daze following a very lengthy and traumatic labour. I couldn’t believe I had instantly become a 24 hour a day servant and all the midwives would say was ‘if it hurts, you’re doing something wrong’. Like hell, tell the truth ladies. For the majority of people it will really hurt at the beginning. Why make new mothers feel like they’re failing?

    It will go down as one of the hardest times of my life.

    When it was sorted though I had a long and happy breastfeeding career with both of my kids. A bit of care for a new mum wouldn’t have gone astray though.

  20. lovely stories! thanks for sharing beth!
    you certainly didn’t always have it easy!
    good on you for persevering hun! … you’ve done your part!
    there is a time for everything and look at that little poppet!
    love m:)X

  21. This is a sweet post.

  22. Congrats my friend! It’s a big milestone along with so many others when it comes to babies. Welcome back to underwire too – I know my girls were happy to have some support after 7 years and 3 babies in the bra wilderness! x

    • I’m going to wait a few weeks for them to sort themselves out and then I will go and get fitted properly – can’t wait to have them high and dry again!

  23. I breastfed my 3 kids, the 3rd was also the best experience, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned surrendering to it, it’s the easiest way forward. A very funny story – my friend was breastfeeding her 3rd as her hubbie looked on wistfully, she said “don’t worry, they’ll be yours again soon” (referring of course to her boobs), to which he replied “ah, but they won’t be where I left them”! We howled!!!

  24. I will never forget the look of absolute horror on my then 7 month old (now 14yo) son’s face when I dared shove a boob in his gob just one week after giving up breast feeding. We were lying in bed after yet another sleep deprived night and I was just too exhausted to get up and heat a bottle of formula, so thought a boob couldn’t hurt. You’d swear I’d just asked him to sip a dogshit smoothie…

  25. I was the highest of breast feeding high achievers with my first two. You would have hated me. Literally not one issue. The milk came, they fed, they thrived, I got skinny. Yada yada yada

    Then, 10 and 8 years after my first two, my luxury baby came. Oh. My. God.

    Everything you went through with #1 I went through with #3. You cannot imagine my distress and sense of failure. I just couldn’t adjust to the concept that ‘it might not happen’ with this precious child.

    Long story short, I persevered and fed her until she was seven months. Good outcome all round but it was basically horrendous from start to end.

    What I learned was I should have just accepted it wasn’t going to happen for us, and that’s okay. She would have absolutely thrived with only a bottle.

    Thank you for your post, it’s so important to talk about this stuff in an honest way.

    And, my luxury a baby is now 7 (27 October baby!) and I still haven’t lost that bloody baby weight!

  26. You are truly awesome Beth.
    My first baby was born a bit early and didn’t have a suck reflex…. So drank expressed milk from a cup at first! Finally figured the whole thing out when mega mastitis strikes. Persevered and chugged along nicely until a midwife told me that feeding him was stunting his growth. Pardon?! He is now a total beanstalk of an 11 yr old and seriously not stunted.
    I stopped feeding him when he was 1 and I was pregnant. A very late miss carriage later what no one ever tells you is that your milk comes in when you loose your baby. It literally pours out for days and that little baby is not there to drink it. Not my favourite not-feeding memory.
    My little girl at last made her appearance and I fed that kid till she was two!!!! Just couldn’t stand the thought of waisted milk!
    I LOVE hat last photo of you feeding maggie. Good job mumma.

  27. Beautiful post Beth.

  28. Yay for boobies!!
    Nipple shields – BEST INVENTION EVER! These saved my life! Not literally of course but they helped me get through it when I felt like giving up.

  29. I breast fed my first until his first birthday – on the morning of I tried to give him a breast fed and he screamed banana and that was that. He no longer wanted to feed. I breast fed my second until almost 18 months, he had been a real boob baby and I wonder if he only weaned as my milk changed due to pregnancy with my third? You did an awesome job!

  30. Marian Wiltshire says

    Well done Beth. My Maggie made me laugh today: she was telling me about the cows (next door), and how they feed their babies milk. I asked what other animals drink milk? Me she replies and pats the ladies- from your tummy!
    It is quite amazing. Something I didn’t expect to maintain with twins but after 4 months of expressing while they were in the NICU, we managed to keep going until they were 18 months. In the end I decided to wean them as they showed no intention of finishing up and I was starting to feel a bit drained, especially being back at work. Had me a bit tears I admit. But damn it sometimes I wished I’d kept expressing cause feeding twins meant I could basically eat whatever I wanted and still stay slim.
    Definitely deserving of a toast or three!

  31. Pop that Prosecco, pour a G&T and drink up my friend!!! Well done to the old girls.

  32. Hi Beth. I’m BF my first (almost 4 months old) and really enjoying it, which surprised me! Has Mags gone onto a bottle? I’ve been trying to get my little one to talk a bottle of EBM but no joy! I’m wondering if the transition will be ok when she stops BF. I’ll need to go back to work at some point 🙂

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