I’ve spoken often about my prolonged breast feeding journey. Sometimes I’ve moaned about it, other times I’ve boasted about it (I’m quite proud really) and often I’ve mused about when Florence will finally self wean…
Self weaning was always my goal and when she turned six months old I naively thought it was about to happen; I remember crying about the fact that our special time together was nearly over… Obviously I had nothing to worry about! I may not have been ready back then but thankfully neither was she and on we ploughed with my next goal of 1 year.
Her first birthday came and went and with some of my family and friends becoming a little bit itchy about it but I just took it all in my stride. ‘She will stop when she’s ready’ I said!
Time went on and occasionally even Jonny would ask ‘Isn’t she a bit old to do that now’? It only ever got my back up! I was adamant that if she wanted to feed then she could and she continued to do so pretty much on demand day and night. Sometimes I moaned but I didn’t really mind, even if I was tired at times, because if I’d really minded then I’d have done something about it wouldn’t I!
I got pregnant with Jimmy and feeding Florence was tough. Very tough but by the time she hit two she’d finished feeding throughout the night! I’d had to nip that in the bud and refuse her but it wasn’t a big deal as she even started to sleep in her new toddler bed which was fab. Still she would have a feed in the morning and again in the evening before bed though and I would never have denied her it.
Somewhere along the way we stopped feeding when out and about; it felt too odd to do that with such a big baby and more a thing we did at home just in sleepy moments. She didn’t need it for sustenance anymore after all. I obviously couldn’t criticise someone for breastfeeding an older child but I’ve seen other people do it at play groups and it makes me feel funny so it just isn’t for me. Thankfully Florence only ever really asked for it mornings and evenings at that point, like a natural progression. Of course I would always give it with a bump on the head or a grazed knee but for just a comfort feed? No, that was for snuggly times at home.
With a new baby and my new milk supply her demand went up but I was quite strong. We had a few weeks where she went a bit backwards and fed a bit more than usual but everything had changed for her, I couldn’t and wouldn’t deny her the ‘milk, milk’ or ‘ma ma’ as it has just become known…
She calmed down again of course and then somewhere along the line she was just feeding before bed. A while later and until recently, it has been just three or four times a week, sometimes even less that that. People always said ‘Are you STILL feeding her?’ ‘Yep’ I would reply. Sometimes we’d giggle, depending on the asker and how judgemental they were being, but I was never embarrassed. I’m no push over, if I didn’t want to do something then I absolutely wouldn’t. If she wasn’t so strong minded about it herself then I may have been harder and clamped down, especially when I was pregnant, but for whatever the reason, she still needed it. I wanted that self weaning and guess what… At three years and exactly eight months I got it!
First proper night of holiday she asked for ‘ma ma’. She’d not had it in a few days but was very tired from travelling the day before so we lay down together for what became the last ever feed. I would do it quietly, not hiding it but not advertising it either. These days Jonny has become quite exasperated by it. No one sees but he feels embarrassed that at over three and a half she still wanted to feed; I would just do it and hope he didn’t walk in for the rolling of the eyes and the ‘She’s too old’ declaration! It would ruin the ambience and mood the ‘ma ma’ would offer and the reason why we were still doing it. He just didn’t understand but I never expected him to. Until you breast feed I’m not sure anyone could.
The rest of the holiday she didn’t ask for it. Ok I thought at the end of the first week, a week has gone by before, I’m sure she’ll ask tomorrow. But she didn’t. End of the second week and still not a mention. Strange. When we got home it came up in conversation so I said ‘You don’t have ‘ma ma’ anymore do you?’ and she said ‘Noooo, well, I do have ‘ma ma’ in a bottle (she doesn’t actually, she just likes to have one but she never drinks it and never has) but not from your boobie’. ‘Why’s that?’ I asked ‘Oh, I don’t want it anymore Mummy’. And that was that!
Amazing! She actually has self weaned. At last. And I feel good about it. All this time I have been hoping she would self wean, really, deep down, I’ve felt mixed about it and not really looked forward to her doing it. I thought it might leave me feeling a bit bereft for that time. Now I just feel happy and proud. I think that means it was the right time for both of us. The natural time for both of us. The best time for both of us. We did the best thing for her and for me. I am proud of that. To feed a baby for any time at all is an achievement. I feel very, very proud that I fed my baby for 3 years and 8 months exactly. That’s a good job done and no one got upset in the process of stopping. That’s the most important thing!
There would have come a time when I’d have had to force her to stop. I couldn’t have let her go to school still breast feeding! I am SO not the type of person to breast feed a school child (mind you I said that about a toddler) and I’m just so pleased I didn’t have to! I kind of knew it was coming, her suck had changed a bit and it felt like although she asked for it, she didn’t really want it and it was more a habit. Only for a few weeks but I just sensed it wasn’t as important as it used to be.
Now, to everyone who ever said to me something along the lines of ‘You HAVE to stop feeding her now surely?’ I told you she’d self wean! Maybe she’s later than I originally envisaged but she did it and I knew she would! I told you about self weaning and now I’ve proved it works, no matter how long it takes!
Self weaning rocks!
MY LIFE WITH 2!
Well, after our amazing holiday we came back to Blighty with a bit of a cold bump! Getting off the plane at cold and rainy Gatwick late Friday night was a bit of a shock to the system after two weeks of 30 degree days!
The holiday was wonderful and the children just thrived! They enjoyed beach days, swimming pools, dining out, carousel rides and just time with all of us together! My Mum was there too and everyone got to have a bit of a relax. Florence became so good at swimming and by the end of the holiday could jump in and swim with half the floats removed from her swim vest. She’s so nearly there! Her water confidence just grew and grew!
Jimmy just made everyone laugh by quacking like a duck the entire time! He loves ducks so much that he even ‘quack quacks’ in his sleep and if he’s annoyed with something he does it in a really grumpy way! He came on leaps and bounds on holiday too and if I thought he was a live wire before then I DEFINITELY do now! He’s down to one sleep a day and could easily rival his sister when it comes to staying up late at night! They are both party animals! I think they just can’t bear the thought of missing something!
We had a great time but it’s all back to normal now and school and ballet are back on! I can’t complain though, we are very lucky to have had a holiday! It’s all thanks to my Mum who took us as a present!
Well, that’s it for this week, I’ll post again next and in the mean time please do follow me on Twitter @rocknrollerbaby.