My eldest turned 5 in March. My beautiful firstborn is no longer a baby or even a toddler or a preschool, she is a proper child with all the fun that goes along with that.
Every time one of my kids has a birthday, I find myself reflecting on their first few days and weeks on this planet. There are so many feelings swirling around in those few days that sometimes it is had to work out what the overriding emotion was. I guess survival is the best word.
In those times though, I learnt a skill that I did not even know I had. I learnt to breastfeed. And five years on, I am still breastfeeding. It seems like a good time to reflect on that.
The early days
Those first few days with a newborn and literally nuts. You don’t know which way is up, what day it is or whether this is going to end.
Like many first time mums, I found myself on the receiving end of a birth experience that I didn’t really want. I ended up having an emergency c-section, which wasn’t the stressful experience that it sounds, as I probably had the most casual of emergency c-sections and Emily was born into a calm environment.
But it did lead to a few days in the hospital and a whole load of breastfeeding support which I will always be grateful for. I literally had a whole team of midwives on tap to give me great advice. I left the hospital with a baby that was feeding well and a handful of skills to get me through.
The next few weeks were a bit up and down. After some initial weight loss, Emily started piling on the pounds, but her latch was iffy. I sought out some support and an IBCLC confirmed that Emily had a tongue tie.
It took a few weeks to sort out and I can’t lie and say it was easy watching her have it snipped, but we got through it and things improved.
The dreamy 6-18 months
After the initial hiccups had ironed themselves out, we totally found our stride. I figured out how to feed pretty much anywhere; lying down in bed, walking around in a sling and whilst cooking dinner.
As Emily learnt to walk (she never did crawl), this brought a new breastfeeding challenge of feeding a child who would literally climb all over me whilst twisting my nipple off. We had some laughs and some stern talks any time teeth made an appearance.
At the 6 month stage, I celebrated my breastfeeding success by treating myself to some jewellery. After the tough start, I had made it through and my fierce determination to give her this start in life was paying off. I totally loved the connection that we had and was proud of making it that far.
With each milestone, my mummy friends and I would celebrate a few more months of breastfeeding. There’s not a lot of people that would celebrate an achievement like this. We celebrated silver boobies, gold boobies and more. Having to look up what they were each time.
Breastfeeding through pregnancy
When Emily was 18 months old, I found out I was pregnant with what later turned out to be Alice. I decided early on that I want to breastfeed Emily until she was at least two, so that meant carrying on through pregnancy.
It was tough in parts. The milk came and went but Emily was committed all the way through. I regularly had to grit my teeth through dry-nursing periods, distracting myself with books or my phone so that she could get the comfort she needed.
It was like Christmas for both of us when my milk came back in the later stages of pregnancy. The only challenge was feeding a wiggly two-year-old over my rather large bump.
I thought I would enjoy tandem breastfeeding and I did at times. But there were some beautiful moments and I am grateful for the experience.
In the end, my life became a string of breastfeeding. Switching between the two children to make sure their needs were met. Emily reduced her feeds down to morning and night time which made it easier to manage.
After 18 months of tandem feeding my girls, I gently encouraged Emily to ween when she was 3 years and 9 months. It went smoothly and there were few tears.
15 months on
For these last few months, it has just been me and Alice. She’s nearly three so it is hard to say whether I will still be feeding in another year or not.
She only feeds in the mornings and at night now, so chances are that we will be carrying on for w a while like this. Truth is I barely even acknowledge that I am breastfeeding these days. If someone asks me it takes me a while to remember.
There will be a time when I look back on this experience and miss that closeness. I will always feel grateful that I had this bond with both my children.
It is nice to know that despite the fact that I wasn’t able to have the births I wanted with either of them, that I was able to give them a strong start to their lives with years and years of milky goodness.
I’ll probably write another post in a year or so reflecting back on my whole journey with two weaned and booby free children. So you’ve got that to look forward to.
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