So far I have spent 42 months of my life breastfeeding. I've thrown the towel in at 4 weeks and I've had a baby self wean just before their second birthday.
I have my own reasons for breastfeeding and I just want to clarify I have nothing against bottle feeding-it just isn't for me. I'm too lazy to get up in the middle of the night to make bottles, I don't have the mental capacity to listen to a baby scream while I prepare a bottle, nor am I organised enough to prepare bottles in advance.
Of course the other stuff comes into it-nutrition, bonding, lowering risks of whatever. Just as an all rounder, for many reasons, breastfeeding is what I do. It just is.
Now as most mums that have breastfed for any length of time will tell you, it is not easy. Having a baby suck the very being out of you through your nipple is no mean feat. Avoiding eye contact with your baby, or dodging out of the way so he doesn't see you out of the corner of his eye, because as soon as he recognised you; it's time. Even if he only fed 5 minutes ago. And he makes the most delightful "feeding grunt" that just makes your ears ring. Sounds lovely doesn't it?
Having a very mobile baby smack, scratch, climb, turn and fuss the whole time he is latched on-presumably very similar to trying to hold a wet fish still-makes my skin crawl, and inside (and sometimes outside) I often break down.
It's not the first time I've experienced nursing aversion. With my fourth child I dreaded feeding him and spent so many nights crying to my husband that I was stopping and I was stopping right now. He was supportive then, and is still supportive now, and he has always reminded me that it won't be like this forever, and to never quit on a bad day.
I now have a baby who will not take a dummy, or a bottle, barely eats any solids, and I can't wear any top that the neckline comes lower than my collar bones without him trying to help himself, whenever and wherever-he's not shy.
So this brings me to today, this week, this month in fact. And I am not enjoying breastfeeding any more. I've spent hours staring into space whilst feeding, my skin crawling, holding this baby that wants me so much and feeling guilty that I don't want him to touch me.
So why am I doing it you ask?
Because of the reasons above. When the dust settles, he's finished and I've calmed down, I often remember that I am all this little boy has ever known. I am his food, his drink, his comfort, his love, his sleep, his pacifier. The sound of my heart, the smell of my body and the touch of my skin is his home. He needs me, and I know I need him too.
While I sooth my cracked nipples and swear to my husband I'm stopping feeding and I can't do it any more, really I know I'm doing it for my baby. And I will continue as long as he needs me.
This feeling is a small price to pay for my little boy, and when the day comes when he doesn't want to feed any more-and that day will come round fast-I will miss the time we have together. The thought of never breastfeeding him again fills me with more dread than when he starts making *that* noise.
It won't be forever.