My breastfeeding journey of more than 4 years: "I had no idea it would be so hard"
I had no idea that I would love it so much yet hate it with a passion at other times. I had no idea how much it would change me, physically and emotionally...
“18 months,” I heard myself say when the birthing coach asked me how long I plan to breastfeed.
“Why so random?,” she asked. I shrugged. I had no idea why I chose that number.
I had absolutely no idea.
I had no idea that my breastfeeding journey would be a lot longer than what I had predicted. I had no idea it would be so damn hard. I had no idea that I would love it so much yet hate it with a passion at other times. I had no idea how much it would change me, physically and emotionally. Nothing, not even that wonderful birthing class I went to, would prepare me for motherhood and breastfeeding. It was like a rug pulled under me that threw me in the air and landed me on a roller coaster ride.
Let me begin when it all started. On December 16, 2012 at around 4am, when everyone else were on their way to simbang gabi (Christmas eve mass), I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was born on the year of the dragon. And my dragon baby crawled on my chest and latched on my boob perfectly. The nurses even said she was already an expert at sucking. Little did I know that that same dragon Baby would refuse to wean from breastfeeding for years and years.
So I went past the 18th month mark and after the second year of breastfeeding, I began to hear this a lot: “You’re still breastfeeding?!” Sometimes they added it with “Aren’t you supposed to be done by age 2?.” Or “She has teeth already!” Sometimes I easily shrugged it off. But there would be days that it got the better of me and I would question myself. Why can’t I wean my daughter like everyone else? I got so much flak and unsolicited advice but I also got so much praises at the same time. So I simply held on to the nicer words and parented my child the best way I know how.
“Lagyan mo ng sili.” Put chili, someone advised. But I couldn’t and instead tried bitter gourd, to which she didn’t mind I even went on a 3-week trip when my daughter was 2 and a half, which was part second honeymoon with my husband and part project weaning. I had no more milk when I got back. Apparently, when your child latches and latches, you relactate!
On the third year, desperation would set in. I would seesaw between acceptance (that I was full term breastfeeding) and anger or annoyance. It got even worse when I got pregnant. As a compromise, I would only let her latch for ten seconds on each boob, to which I had to count in Spanish (Dora’s fault). My mother said my daughter won’t wean partly because she’s strong-willed and partly because I didn’t want it to happen yet. Maybe she was right. Maybe, although I thought I was, I wasn’t ready for my journey to be over.
Last year, I gave birth to another beautiful baby girl. Just like her sibling, she was great at latching. Now imagine having to deal with recovery, sleep deprivation and tandem feeding. It.was.crazy. But I got through it alive!
After 4 years and 5 months, my daughter finally weaned. It wasn’t even my idea. My 8yo niece made a “scoreboard” with 7 tick boxes and a prize at the end. My daughter was so thrilled with the idea that she accepted the challenge. She cried during the first nights though and said, “I want to dede (nurse) so bad but I want the toy more.” After the 7th day, we celebrated and got milkshakes. Now, when she has the urge to breastfeed, she just borrows her 5-month old sister’s teething necklace or we just cuddle.
Sometimes, I still can’t believe how much she’s grown. I feel like she’s going to ask to move out of the house next! Haha! But really, I have mixed emotions right now. Relieved yet anxious because it feels like the end of a chapter. I even wrote about it and a breastfeeding group and got tons of love and support. I am not alone! And while I would like to bid goodbye to breastfeeding totally, I have yet to see how far my second daughter would take me.
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