I didn't expect to ever feel comfortable with breastfeeding. I certainly didn't expect to ever enjoy it.
I did it, if I'm honest, for 2 reasons:
1. She's my last baby. This was my last chance to try breastfeeding. I always work on the basis of "don't knock it til you try it", so I wanted to try it; for pure curiosity, and knowing that it is what the World Health Organisation recommends.
2. We lost Polly. I probably don't need to expand on this, do I? Something about Polly's loss and the fact that I didn't really get to experience anything with her; any bonding in real life...well, it just made me more determined to make the most of any potential bonding experiences with Baby M.
When I first started feeding her, I really didn't like it. It was fumbly, agonisingly painful and exhausting. I cried through every feed. I couldn't possibly see how either of us were really "getting anything from it" but dogged determination made me persevere, nonetheless.
I focused on getting through each feed; each day; each week; each month. And then before I knew it we were working towards feeding for 6 months. By that point, over time, our feeding relationship had changed. It was clear that Baby M enjoyed it; and so did I.
We've had rocky moments along the way... teething, hunger strikes, blocked ducts resulting in lumps the size of tennis balls (several times)... but we've navigated our way through them, together. And it really is together... it's been teamwork all along, little M & I. I think that's what I love about it so much.
And now...now she's 16 months old, and we find ourselves in a bit of a groundhog day situation.
Baby M goes to bed at 7.30pm. She sleeps soundly until midnight or so (unless teething or poorly). But then, from midnight, she wakes and feeds hourly.
I've gone back to work part-time now. And I'm tired. Very tired. Little M, bless her, seems to be absolutely fine on the hourly wakings. But I'm not.
The time has come to tackle the night feedings. She's not going to like it. I suspect, given I know how much she can scream like her little heart is broken if she doesn't get fed when she wants/needs it, then nor am I. I'm feeling very guilty, that the very thing....feeding on demand... that I worked so hard to provide for her, is the one thing that I'm now about to take away from her.
Is that being cruel? Or being realistic? Should I have done this much, much earlier? Or is it right that I kept going til a point where...now... I can't continue any longer. Should I somehow find some more stamina and just keep going?
We've tried me sleeping in a different room so that Daddy could settle her, and that worked well. For a week I slept on the sofa... but the very first night I returned to our room, she started yelling to be fed again. She's not daft.
We have a plan... "no milk at the bar" after midnight, and if she wakes after that point, then I'll offer her a beaker. I'll be reassuring and consistent, and after a week or so of this, we'll all be comfortable with the new arrangement.
That's ok, isn't it?