Side Note: Breastfeeding is a funny thing. Whatever I say here will be judged, whether I'm pro breastfeeding or bottle feeding. So, just so you know, I'm not trying to sway anyone to do anything one way or another, I'm just going to say how I feel and what I think about stopping breastfeeding. I wrote this next section back in March but was a bit too afraid to publish it!
It's just sort of happened. Last week there was nothing left (well I found out when I squirted Mike in the eye that there is a bit but not enough for Reuben). After all the gearing up to stopping breastfeeding, I did feel a little bit sad about it!
Since Christmas I've only been breastfeeding Reuben at bedtime, during the night (which he rarely needed) and first thing in the morning. Cuddle times. So I guess, little by little, my supply has been drying up as he has been demanding less. I suppose it was the least painful way to do it. A friend of mine had to stop quite abruptly (after a teared nipple incident - Babies can be cruel!), and the full boobs/engorgement wasn't much fun. She told me you just have to go with it, cold turkey, no expressing, and it'll stop in the end.
We struggled with breastfeeding to start with as Reuben wouldn't latch on so I had to use nipple shields for the first 3 months. Sterilising every time I had a free minute did my head in! I also felt like a failure, like I didn't have the right bits or the bits I had weren't good enough. I didn't realise then how lucky I was that I was able to feed him at all. Then one day he didn't need the shields anymore, so for 1 glorious month it was easy. No sterilising, no making sure I've packed tons of shields whenever we went out, no awkward public breastfeeding with lots of nipple waving (because nipple shields make it much harder to be discrete!), bliss.
But then he started to refuse a bottle. Now, my cousin's baby went through a stage of refusing the bottle and the stage didn't end until he was 9 months old! I wasn't very keen on the idea of that so I introduced a bottle of formula a day. This worked out nicely as I was starting to feel ready to have more time to myself. I love Reuben so so so much but, selfish as it may sound, I wanted time to think, make food, clean the house, workout, whatever, but essentially a bit of baby-free time. But then I found breastfeeding really tricky to manage. I wasn't sure how much he was getting (which I was obsessed with as he was still waking up LOADS in the night!) and because every day wasn't the same, I'd find myself engorged when he wasn't around and I hated expressing.
By Christmas Reuben was thriving and I was ready to get my body back. So, after discussing it with my family and dealing with issues of guilt (mainly because I didn't want other people to think badly of me for CHOOSING not to carry on breastfeeding) I moved all daytime feeds to the bottle. Phew! I felt so much more in control! I could tell how much he was having, he started sleeping better and we were still able to have lots of cuddles and feeds at night time.
There, you may think I was having my cake and eating it! Which of course I was and all good things do come to an end... but they get replaced by other good things. Ha!
It was sad when I was stopping breastfeeding but I think the only reason was because I thought we wouldn't have the closeness anymore. This isn't true, we still have lots of cuddles and he'll still fall asleep on me so I can bury my face into his face and neck without him squirming away! What I've learnt is whichever way you feed your baby is special because you are doing just that, feeding them, looking after them, loving them, cuddling and smiling and cooing at each other. It's the most precious thing, wherever his nourishment comes from, to see him grow day by day.
At Alnwick Castle - He's been threatening it for weeks but he was finally crawling yesterday (of sorts. He doesn't necessarily move forward but it's good enough for me!)
Other side note: My body after stopping breastfeeding...my boobs are now half the size (and are in fact smaller than before I got pregnant), which I love! I feel like a different person. On a less pleasant note, I've had a period every 2 weeks, my first in a year and a half. Boo. Finally, everyone says you'll pile the pounds back on when you stop breastfeeding. I haven't so I think that's a myth.