by Lori Dwyer on November 22, 2010 · 40 comments

in Uncategorized

My daughter, my beautiful sunshine baby daisy girl; she weaned herself from the breast a few days ago. She is fourteen months old.

It sounds self-possessed, but my daughter’s weaning happened so quietly, so quickly, and I was so distracted by the hum of everyday life, I barely even noticed. I didn’t pay any special attention to her last feed. But, by some fortunate glitch of the mind, I do remember- I’ll always remember- nibbling at the fingertips of her tiny, chubby hands the last time I fed her, her giggling and squealing, shoving baby fat hands into my mouth for mum to do that again.

My sweet, delightful princess. She was so easy to feed, unless you consider those few weeks between reflux being appearing and being medicated, and I barely remember them, so they just don’t stand to be counted. She fed straight away after birth, both breasts, and really hasn’t stopped eating since. A happy, confident little girl, rarely distressed enough to need the warmth and closeness of a breastfeed to comfort her. She sleeps well, voluntarily dropping her midnight feed. Then, as I frantically chase her three year old brother to scoop and manhandle him back into his bed again, she falls asleep, three nights in a row, with no quiet, warm bedtime feed from mum.

And that is it. It is over.

Breastfeeding had become so much a part of my life, such a natural thing for me to do, that I only noticed it for it’s absence. Activities you’ve accepted, habitual and ritualistic, that you enjoy; you lose your gratitude for them and they become another flicker of the mundane. Changing nappies. Preparing food. Washing clothes. Nourishing a child.

My son, my first child, he weaned at the same age my daughter is now. With my son, feeding was far more intense- he has far more intense personality than she. At almost three, he would happily go back to the breast, and has requested it more than once. No, thanks. After nine months of pregnancy, fourteen months of breastfeeding, then another nine months gestating and another fourteen months lactating, stacked one on top of the either like weights on my sexuality, my femininity, my independence, I am shamefully overjoyed to have my body all to myself again. To donate blood again, if I choose to. To be inked again, if I should choose to. My body is own. Without having to incubate. To fatten no one but myself. And my body is being selfish with it’s kilojoules, now they belong to no one but me, and is stockpiling them on my hips, my thighs, my belly.

Everywhere but my deflated, drooping breasts.

While feeding my daughter was a pleasure, feeding my son was torment and torture. He wouldn’t feed, at all, for 24 long hours after his birth. A lactation consultant introduced us to nipple shields, a small, thin shield of plastic to cover the nipple and desentitise the hot shards of pain that shot through my chest. A God-send. The only thing that allowed me to keep breastfeeding my son.

But, sometimes, I wonder if those nipple shields were a curse as well. I breastfed both my children exclusively, not a drop of formula. But my son should have almost certainly had a bottle of formula, at one stage in those first horrid, incapacitated weeks. Weeks when I hadn’t slept for more than consecutive hours since my son was born. When I was sobbing every time I fed my baby, from the agonising pain and the pure exhaustion; when I was kicking my legs in agony as he latched; weeping at the thought of the next two-hourly feed.

In a perfect world, everyone would breastfeed. Everyone would have seen women breastfeeding, everywhere,all their lives. If a mother couldn’t produce milk, if their baby wouldn’t latch, they had access to human milk, to a wet nurse, to a lactating family friend who would happily feed their baby for them.

That doesn’t happen anymore. That tribal community is gone, and there is only so much we can do to replace it. Some women- most women- have never seen a mother, up close, breastfeeding her child.

Everyone has seen someone give a baby a bottle.

Formula, it’s a necessary evil to the world of breastfeeding mums. Women have to work. New mothers have little to no access to the support the need, with feeding their babies and so many other little things, little things that matter so much when you are suddenly, awe-inquiringly in total responsibility of the health and well being of a tiny, fragile life. We have such a long way to go, re-establishing breastfeeding as a norm.

Formula, In Real Life, for mums who can’t feed, or don’t want to, it’s a blessing. Breast may best, but In Real Life, what’s best is not always what’s right.

I don’t know what would have happened, had I relented to my husband’s requests and given our first baby a formula feed. I would have slept, perhaps. Would he have ended up a formula-fed baby? Perhaps. Would I have had issues with that, held resentment toward breast feeding mums in general? Knowing my own mind as I do- most probably.

But- isn’t there always a ‘but’, when it comes to our babies?- at the same time my son should have, logically, become formula-fed, in the midst of the blackness of severe post natal depression, breastfeeding saved me. Breastfeeding was the only thing I was doing right, the only thing I was any good at it.

So what if I couldn’t wrap this tight enough that he didn’t kick himself undone, or calm his constant screaming, or tape the disposable nappies into tight little balls to pop into the bin? I was feeding him, I was providing for him, and that was all that mattered.

I was feeding him, so I must be his mother. Even if I didn’t feel like a mother at all, even if sometimes I felt nothing for this baby, sometimes I wanted nothing more than to leave the house alone and come back and have him asleep, I was feeding him. So I must be his mother.

I got lucky. And stubborn. And possibly a bit stupid. But we made it, in the end. Fourteen months of feeding my son. Then a pregnant food-source, a newly discovered ability to walk and a virus that dehydrated me and sucked my milk almost dry, and just a little bit of encouragement from me, and it our time breast feeding was over.

Then, however, I knew there was another baby on the way. Another baby to feed, to hold close. To sniff the talcy, milky smell of. And the knowledge that breastfeeding, this time, would be easier.

Breastfeeding is a learned skill, not an intuitive one. But it is almost like riding a bike. Once you know how, you know how.

This time, there is no other baby on the way. No tiny, curly newborn to clutch at my skin, to cry high pitched and desperately and cause my nipples to tingle and my breasts to leak sticky yellow colostrum. No smell of milk and softness, the flowery talc of warm skin pressed against my own.

My beautiful baby girl. It’s been so lovely, feeding her, giving to her, have her slurp and suck the life from me, absorb the best of me through my milk. I will miss it. The feeling of being needed, of being necessary, of being loved in such a complete way. The exquisite sweetness of a tiny child, falling asleep on the breast, your nipple slipping from the corner of their mouth as they sigh and their bodies relax and flop heavily in your arms.

Breastfeeding is so powerful, so empowering, for children, for women, in so many more aspects than physical health. I’m so proud of myself, of my body, for what it’s done, for the beauti
ful children it’s grown.

But to have my body to myself again… it feels like healing. Replenishing. Taking a much needed recuperation from the simplistic yet intense business of growing, of nourishing. The act of feeding tiny lives.

post signature

Leave a Comment

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Annabellz December 18, 2011 at 11:48 am

Amazing, touching, very truthful and heartfelt… I could go on. Loved your post. I had to defend my breastfeeding ways. Breastfed my 2nd child until age 4 believe it or not. Our first until 14 months. Both made their decision. I was so enormously moved by the experience. So sad when it ended but yes… having my body back was good and brought about much needed rest. We adopted a child and I so wanted to breastfeed him too but it was too "weird" to the world around us I capitualated and felt sad about that. I'm so enormously resentful of the world that pushes formula and tells us as women it's okay. It is okay but it's not at the same time. Thank you for your words.


Zoey @ Good Goog August 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I just re-read this post today after Holly linked up. I didn't comment the first time I read it. Likely distracted by something shiny.

But I just loved reading it again. I can so relate. I was in agony unlike I've ever experienced feeding the first time around and second time around it was just so damn easy. I know I will miss it when it's gone.


Anonymous February 7, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I felt this blog very deeply. Having a very bad few days. And the light of my day is feeding my son. He is 8 months (I fed my other two boys till they were 22 months), and when I read your words I could feel his finger tips in my mouth and smell his soft skin.
Now I know why I want another one. Regardless of how bad my day was and how feral my older two boys are, there is just something primal about feeding your child. You are right. It is the only thing that went right all day.


Draft Queen November 27, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Of all the things I miss about the "baby" days, breastfeeding is one of them. (And one of the things I'm sad I may not get to do if/when I have another.)

Beautiful post, Lori.


Shamozal November 26, 2010 at 6:05 pm

This is a great post! I've breastfed 4 babies, all for different periods of time for varying reasons. It drives me nuts when I read biased self righteous blogs telling mothers what they "should" be doing. It was so lovely to hear someone tell both sides of the story in a gentle and understanding way. Well done! Kirsty (Shamozal)


nadinewrites108 November 26, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I'm playing catch up after a week of sick kids (and husbands, well, husband, I only have one…) anyhoo, this is a gorgeous post! I love love love it! Well done boobies!



Good Golly Holly! November 26, 2010 at 10:11 am

Word on the street is awesome kids wean at 14 months ;)


Veronica November 26, 2010 at 10:08 am

Beautiful. I always thought I'd be ready for the weaning, that I'd lead it and we'd have a final ritual to end the special bond but it almost passed me by. I was in tears when I thought it had ended, surprising myself at how affected I felt. Then two days later, I must confess I offered her what I hoped would be my chance for closure, one last feed. She was happy to oblige and I savoured the moment of intimacy before gently and silently saying my "goodbyes" to this phase of our lives. I'm glad I captured the moment in my journal in both words and photos from the past months. Then it was all over with my little girl shy of 18 months.


anna November 24, 2010 at 9:01 pm

oh well done on such a lovely balanced post on breast feeding. Its one of those things in life, like raising kids, it can bring so much joy and so much pain!I felt similar to you after feeding my daughter for 13 months. Part of you is relieved not to be tied in that way but part of you kind of aches for that bond again!


Becky November 24, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Beautiful, just a gorgeous post. With my baby boy almost two weeks old and literally constantly attatched to my nipples, leaving me exhausted and emotional, I appreciate that you've written this and shared it with us as it's reminded me that what I am doing is important.


Ebonie’s Mummy November 24, 2010 at 7:26 am

Just wanted to say I LOVE this post! My fav so far. Well done of feeding 2 hungry little babes too!


PlanningQueen November 23, 2010 at 9:06 pm

I am still breast feeding my last baby (not really a baby at 22mths!) There is part of me that would like my body back, but the other part doesn't want to drop the bond either. I have seen other mothers try so hard and then be so sad if breast feeding doesn't work out. I am eternally grateful that I have been able to experience this so positively.

Lovely post Lori.


Megan Blandford November 23, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Great post, Lori.

When I was pregnant, I couldn't bear the thought of milk coming out of me. Couldn't bear it. Didn't want to breastfeed at all. Then my beautiful girl was born and it was like she knew not to make it hard for me, that I'd give up if she did. She fed well from that very first feed; it was like she just knew what to do, and the midwives were teasing me saying they thought I was hiding other kids from them because I looked like I'd done it all before too. And because it was so straightforward for Miss A and I, I had to do it. You can't give up on something when you don't have any excuse, right?

And it ended up being such a great experience (apart from the mastitis, but we'll forget about that shall we?!) and I'm so grateful I had the chance to do that for her. It really is a special time.


MultipleMum November 23, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I love a good BFing story. Good for you Lori. Enjoy the freedom and continue to remember the nice moments :)


Brenda November 23, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I like your boobies. Hehe.

Beautiful post, punkin!


Wanderlust November 23, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Oh Lori, this is so beautiful. Such a moving post. So full of the breadth and weight of mother-love. Thank you.

Like Styling You, I had problems breast feeding both my children. I worked with lactation consultants but they both lost weight and I was told by their pediatrician to put them on the bottle. I cried. I wanted so much to breastfeed. xx


Ami November 23, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Absolutely beautiful post. I'm so glad I found this. My baby girl is 6 weeks old and to say it's been a tough time breastfeeding is an understatement. I started out with so much milk that she wouldn't latch. I've had mastitis, a breast abscess that was drained 3 times with 6 needles and now after all the antibiotics I was on I've got thrush in my breast. Yesterday I wanted to throw it all in. I'm in pain, tired and of course very emotional. But I'm determined to keep going – for my baby girl.


Jacki November 23, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Beautiful post Lori!


Kim November 23, 2010 at 12:51 pm

It's funny, with my first baby I couldn't wait to have my body back! With my second (seven years later) I found it so hard to give up breastfeeding, but felt it was time when my son was around 16 months. I cried for days!

Loved this post!


katepickle November 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

lovely post.

Breastfeeding was my saviour too… the only thing that made my girls mine. Fighting to breastfeed them gave me the link and bond that didn't occur naturally for us and despite it being horrible it was important and wonderful too.


Tania November 23, 2010 at 11:15 am

Gorgeous post Lori – my DD and I are continuing our breastfeeding relationship now at 15 months and I so hear you on the PND fog and breastfeeding… you put into words how I feel – breastfeeding saved me (and my daughter) and helped so much during the really bad PND days.

Thank you for sharing your story with us.


Peggy November 23, 2010 at 9:25 am

Such a beautiful post. Makes me miss feeding my little girl… but excited to have another shot very soon. :)


Maxabella November 23, 2010 at 9:21 am

You did a great job, Lori. x


Mummy’s Brain November 23, 2010 at 8:36 am

I remember it exactly the way you described it….. beautiful xx


Nerdycomputergirl November 23, 2010 at 7:34 am

Lovely post Lori, reminded me of the snuggles I used to have when feeding my little angel. If only life weren't so complicated these days and our society helped women to breastfeed longer.


Amy xxoo November 23, 2010 at 7:18 am

That, my dear, was beautiful.
As i read, i watched my 11 month old crawling around, and marvelled at how he has grown, remembering that soon it will be 1 yr since he left my body… it is amazing what our bodies provide for our children, and i want to thank you for putting it into words.


Eva Gallant November 23, 2010 at 4:17 am

Both my sons were breast fed and never had formula; they also went from breast milk to whole milk, from breast to cup neither ever used a bottle. I loved nursing them and am glad that I had the time with them.


Glen November 23, 2010 at 2:44 am

Oh goodness me did I ever come over here on the right day! Breasts just happen to be my specialty. Joking aside nice piece. Not too dissimilar to my wife's experience (except for the length of time – 14 months!! that is an absolute age – you must be knackered! well done on surviving to tell the tale with the memory intact


Louisa November 23, 2010 at 12:57 am

I loved this post, it reminded me of my happy breastfeeding experience and actually made me quite broody! Am I ready to do it all over again?!
Thank you x


Belinda November 22, 2010 at 11:49 pm

So, so lovely. Well done Lori – you're so right about breastfeeding being a powerful thing and that moment when you get your body back after all that nurturing and nourishing is a powerful moment too. I am starting to look forward to that day more and more keenly x


Cate November 22, 2010 at 11:27 pm

I agree with your comment about some women never seeing another woman breastfeeding. When my second was little I went to california to visit my brother and his wife (she's american). and when I started feeding my brother looked horrified and said 'you can't do THAT in public' – I thought it was just that he was my brother, but his wife agreed 'nobody ever does' she confirmed. However, once I established that I was not in violation of any public nudity laws I carried on unperturbed. And after a few days they got used to it. SIL went on to have 2 kids of her own, and breastfed them both – I only hope she was a little more relaxed having had it shoved in her face by her unsympathetic aussie relative :-) xxx


Ms Styling You November 22, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Lovely post, Lori. It broke my heart that I did not produce enough milk to sustain my three kids when they were babies. I was/still am so pro-breastfeeding. I had all the help in the world at hospital and afterwards. I fed on demand. They all latched on. And then there was nothing to offer them. Poor baby no. 1 (now 15) still eats like he doesn't know where he'll get a meal from. At six weeks he weighed less than he did at birth. I was a first time mum, I didn't know what was going on. Baby no. 2, my gorgeous undiagnosed-for-eight-weeks- reflux baby girl. Screamed and screamed and screamed. Will never forget that Christmas Day. First medication they tried was administered via a bottle. That was it, supply vanished.

8.5 years later, I thought, surely this would be it. I'll be so relaxed, it'll all come together. Relaxed, I was. And so was he. Until he stopped putting on weight at eight weeks of age.

To stop the guilt, I part-fed all three up to six months of age. But the guilt was/is still there.

Not all mums who bottle feed do so because they want to. They do it because they've tried every other means. And they want their babies to nourish.

In hindsight, it was probably my underactive thyroid that caused my problems but I'll never know for sure. No-one at the time had a concrete answer or solution.


Ashleigh November 22, 2010 at 11:13 pm

I think I'll need to read this post a few times, there are so many beautiful and honest thoughts in it. My little man weaned himself when I was 6weeks pregnant with this one that's on the way, and I remember realising it with a bit of sadness. I miss those special cuddles, but we have other special times now.
I hear you with the fog of PND and I hung onto the breastfeeding so tightly, because I thought at least I could do that right.
Enjoy having your body back to yourself! I have a while to go before that happens! :)


MMBB November 22, 2010 at 11:12 pm

great post!


katie November 22, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Beautifully said Lori. I wish that I could remember the feelings-both physical and emotional that I had when breastfeeding my son, but I can't. It seems like that year is completely gone from my memory. Everything for the first year is such a blur. I wish I would have paid closer attention. If I ever get the opportunity to do it again, I certainly won't let it become a blur again.


•´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• November 22, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Beautiful post , you did a great job !


Glowless November 22, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Lovely. My favourite part of breastfeeding is when Tricky looks up at me and smiles but doesn't drop the nipple :P


pixie November 22, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Beautiful <3


Tenielle November 22, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Oh wow. What a fantastic post, Lori! I got shivers, and my eyes welled up with tears, and… oh, just a great post :D


{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: