Monday, April 02, 2007

The end is near?

Today marks the first day in a long, long time that the space, where my cooler bag sits on my desk in the office, is conspicuously empty. No expressing at work today. For the first time in one and a half years.

I usually hand-express two bottles a day - not a lot. That's what Trin usually takes in the day when I'm not around. But recently, Lolita told me that she's not been giving Trin even her usual two bottles. Because Trin seems to be cutting back on her ebm (expressed breast milk)intake. On 'good' days, Trin takes only one bottle. Mostly, there are days when she just refuses the ebm. I have come home in the evening to see bottles still half-filled with ebm (ah, the heartache!!). These days, Trin either wants her yoghurt drink, her Ribena or is too busy playing with her sibs. She draws the line at cow's milk and has been known to spit the stuff out (heh).

The only thing that has not changed is this: she still toddles to me when I come home, hugs my knees and looks up at me (think big beseeching eyes of Puss in Boots re Shrek). And when I lift her up into my arms, she will point to the sofa and make sounds - she wants us to sit there and nurse.

But fact remains that she is taking less and less in the day while I am gone. Because I was still actively expressing, the freezer stock was steadily increasing. So this morning, while running out of the house, I chose not to take the cooler bag with me.

Even Owain's nursing is evolving. His sibs are the ones trying to wean him off his nen-nen. Whenever he starts to scream for nen-nen, especially when Trin is nursing, Isaac will shout: Owain, if you don't stop bugging mum for nen-nen, I'm going to zap you! ('Zap' meaning tickle!)Is this another version of 'child-led' weaning? Heh. Kidding.

Last night, my poor eczemic right nipple (Owain's side) was so watery and peely that I didn't want him to nurse on it. I explained to him why I didn't want him to nurse. And he understood! He agreed and went to sleep by himself without nursing! Of course in the middle of the night, he did wake and groggily ask for milk - but I think that is more like a conditioned reflex than an actual desire to nurse. But the significant point was - he understood about mummy being in pain, about how nursing needs to stop for a while to help the breast heal. I think that is a sign of his growing maturity.

I don't think my journey with breastfeeding has come to an end today. But with all these events, I do see what's changing and I think this is a turning point. And right now, I'd just like to press the pause button and take stock. I figured that I've nursed 3 babies, over a grand total of about 6.5 years so far!! Not mind-blowing - there are other moms who nurse more than 3 babies. And certainly there are mothers who nurse for very long - into primary school! But this is a big deal for me. Why?

In my other life, I was once a pro-formula-feeding mother who CHOSE to stop breastfeeding first out of ignorance and then for no reason other than because I just selfishly wanted my breasts back and who then encouraged other mothers NOT to breastfeed if it made them feel guilty! Now with my work in prenatal classes, what I write on AP etc, what a u-turn I've made!

I feel like I've changed camp, switched allegiances. It is precisely because I have been-there-done-that, on both sides of the camp, that I now feel so strongly about breastfeeding today. Yes, I may rub some up the wrong way with what I write (as I have been told). But how I just wish that 12 years ago, someone had written, as I do today, and shaken me out of my smug complacency and ignorance then. Gillian and Isaac would have had far more bm than the 2-3 weeks' worth they got.

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