I had intended to express for six months, partly out of sheer stubbornness owing to the slightly outrageous €168 price tag on the electric breast bump I got the day I returned from the maternity hospital: I figured the cost per use would be less painful over half a year. (Also because of the health benefits for my baby, of course *cough.)
However, my second bout of mastitis in July (painful right breast, teeth-chattering fever, exhaustion, and back/shoulder/underarm pain) decided me – enough is enough. (Where is my famed immune system when I actually need it?) I suspect the mastitis was caused by my somewhat irregular pumping schedule. I was expressing three times a day but, daily life with a newborn/very young baby being as unpredictable as it is, I sometimes had very large gaps between goes, not exactly conducive to clear ducts.
Breastfeeding is a lot about bonding and comfort, neither of which applies when you are sitting in the kitchen alone at 1am after the baby has gone down, waiting for bottles to sterilise before you spend a further 20 minutes pumping. Pumping seemed to take a disproportionate part of the day and was robbing me of vital snooze time when the boy was asleep. And trying to keep a hungry baby amused (singing, playing with mobiles, doing whatever the length of the pump flex allows you to do) while you pump breast milk for him seems really daft.
So, I reduced by a pumping session per week from mid-July and finished on Monday, getting him to four months. Breastfeeding didn’t work out for us but I did my best to give him some of the good stuff. I thought I might be sad but I’m not at all. I know from reading some of your blogs that giving up nursing is a very emotional and sad time but I’m feeling nothing but relief. I’m happy to be getting my body back and already have tons more time during the day and one less thing to tick off the list. Plus, I won’t be facing the horrors of weaning as many of you are and will probably sleep a good sight better over the next couple of years than I would have done if nursing.
I bought my co-sleeper in the belief that I would be sleepily turning over to give my boy a breast and then settling back into my own bed. That didn’t work out either and he has slept a grand total of ZERO times in his own upstairs bed. It is lovely having him sleep on top of the duvet beside me, though, and there’s plenty of room in my king-size bed to keep him safe. Seeing his little smile beaming in the morning is one of the nicest parts of the day.
I wish I had taken a picture of my pre-pregnancy breasts. I can barely remember what they looked like but I do wistfully recall my once raspberry-like nipples. Even if they return to normal, which looks doubtful (my right nipple even has an extra bit on it now, bizarre), I suspect I will still be left with the crazy dappled pigmentation that developed during pregnancy, a trophy of sorts, I guess.