I cried when she stopped breastfeeding unexpectedly
The Day Has Come
“Malk, malk,” Evangeline said, and tapped on my left arm.
The first thing Evangeline asked for every morning was milk, breastmilk straight from the factory. In recent months, she is very expressive in what she wants. She would pull down my top, even in public, to indicate that she wanted to latch. So I came up with the tapping as a “sign language”.
On 5 January 2019*, a Saturday morning, I was expecting the same malk malk and tapping on shoulder. But nope, she went straight to her toys. Sometimes there’s a lag time, and so I waited a while to see if she was going to ask to nurse. Getting no latch request, we got her ready for her swim lesson and gave her the milk bottle. She’s usually excited to go for swimming, so she might have forgotten to nurse this time?
She drank from the milk bottle and we went out. There were a few times during the day she did say, “Malk malk,” but feebly. I redirected her attention and she soon forgot about her want.
After Evangeline went to bed at about 8pm, hubby said in an epiphany, “She didn’t nurse the whole day!”
“Oh yah!” I was shocked, not realising until now. I didn’t expect it.
“The (baby) app showed last fed was 12+ hours,” hubby said, feeling incredulous, “That’s how I realised.”
This day came so suddenly. There was no warning. It just happened like that. Snapped of fingers and it stopped. Yes, I did try to stretch the timing in between feeds, hoping to drop till just one in the morning and one in the evening. But to no avail, she was still having more than two feeds a day at 18 months old.
Previous Failed Attempt
I almost successfully weaned her before we went to Korea last October. But on the day of our red eye flight, she had fever and poor sleep without the bassinet. Hence she started to nurse for comfort. Thereafter, we were in the same hotel room and the only way to make her sleep during her night wakings was nursing. At home, she has her own room and she can go back to sleep on her own if she doesn’t see us.
So she went from almost stopping to suddenly nursing like newborn. Even when we came back from Korea, the nursing sessions were relentless. Having a toddler nurse like a newborn was time consuming and taxing for me. It also meant I have to keep searching for nursing rooms because I couldn’t nurse her in public. She would pull off my cover. Talked about the time and trouble looking for a nursing room in Korea.
I guess, I was ready to wean her off. My supply wasn’t much left, so I knew she was only nursing for comfort. At 18 months old, she was getting most of her nutrients from solid foods and cow’s milk anyway.
Stretching the time between sessions didn’t work this time. I became stressed about how to wean her off, finding out from friends, google and facebook groups. However, no plan seemed to be at peace with me, nor worked.
So it’s really let go and let God. After I gave up forcing my timeline on Evangeline but waited for her own timing, she suddenly weaned! I’m glad we weren’t in a situation (e.g. sickness) where I had to force her and myself to stop the breastfeeding. Really glad she was the one who led this weaning. I’ve nursed for so long that I forgot what it was like before I breastfed and thought this would never end. I didn’t think she would stop nursing by herself.
Finally after more than 18 months, my breasts finally could rest. I’m happy but sad at the same time. The bonding session through breastfeeding is so precious. And it’s the only time I could hug her for a long time without her trying to break free from my arms. I am going to miss looking into her eyes, stroking her hair and head while she nursed.
In any case, first breakthrough of the year!
The Second Day, and Days After
“Could it be a fluke? Is this really real?” I was still cautious to pop the champagne.
Early next morning, she didn’t tap my arms for milk and was satisfied with the milk bottle I gave her. Occasionally she did ask to nurse, but a quick distraction made her forget.
After more than one day, my breast felt lumpy and achy in the afternoon. Yes, my supply is that low. However, I was afraid of mastitis and so hand expressed at night. Milk squirted out! Didn’t expect that. The lumps were gone after that but my breasts still ache on the fourth day.
Day two passed by without me nursing her. Day three had her asking more determinedly to nurse (for comfort) – because she was “berated” by teacher and me for an incident in playgroup. But I distracted her successfully again. This is getting more concrete.
Lying on my bed, I was looking through my photo gallery and came across this:
I took this photo on 4 January because there’s a mark on Evangeline’s forehead. And thing was, I didn’t know why I peeled her hair and saw a scar. Was wondering if it’s from school and so took a photo while she was breastfeeding and sent it to hubby. Who knows, this would be the last breastfeeding photo.
I looked at the photo and my floodgates open. I cried and cried. Was it the post-weaning hormones? Even as I typed this while looking at the photo, tears welled up. I am not going to nurse her anymore.
Thank God He gave me the chance to have this last photo as a momento. I wouldn’t have known that it was going to be the last day and I should thus take a photo. But God knows when Evangeline was going to stop, and somehow made me take a photo one day before she stopped nursing.
She no longer needs me in a way, after so long of being needed, so long of being stuck together. Please don’t grow up so fast.
I love you, baby.
p.s. for my breastfeeding journey: baby.joogostyle.com/tag/breastfeeding/
*5 is Hei, which means grace. So it’s the first grace of the year.