I appear to have started stopping breastfeeding. This makes me a little bit sad, because it makes me realise that my little baby gets less and less baby-ish every day. And also because the stupid formula powder goes everywhere and I'm very good at filling the kettle up but not actually turning it on.
Tomorrow was going to be the first day I dropped a feed. I have a Keeping In Touch day at work, so The Littl'un will be spending the day with my mother, and because there is no breastmillk in my freezer and I am too lazy to express any, I thought that it was as good a time as any to drop that feed, in preparation for going back to work properly (I know there are plenty of women who succesfully continue breastfeeding while back at work, but like I said, lazy). So tomorrow, the day she turned 8 months, was going to be the beginning of the end. But I couldn't wait that long. I've been trying not to breastfeed at night, because it was starting to drive me ever-so-slightly batshit crazy. I was hoping I could do this by encouraging her to sleep through, but weeks of hideous nights (which I am still to sensitive about to write about properly) have shown me the folly of that plan. I had been convinced that The Littl'un wasn't actually hungry when she was screaming at night, but on testing this theory with a carton of Cow & Gate, it seems I was wrong. Cue lots of guilt. Oops.
So, her night feed is now formula, from tomorrow her afternoon feed will be formula, and in a couple of months time, I will have stopped completely. In many ways, this is a Very Good Thing. I will be able to be on my own for more than 4 hours at a time, should I so wish. I will be able to wear nice bras, and clothes that I have chosen solely for how they look as opposed to ease of access. I will, in short, be free again (relatively speaking, that is. I'm not sure how free mums of two small children ever actually get to be). And I know that I've done really well to breastfeed for this long, and that loads of people don't manage it or even want to, and that it can be hard work. I know that some people probably even think it's a bit weird that I've carried on for nearly 8 months, and that I should have stopped well before now (and there are people that would rather I didn't do it at all, especially near them. But I have little time for them).
So why do I feel so guilty?
I'm normally the first person to say women shouldn't beat themselves up about breastfeeding. I love it and think it's brilliant, but I totally understand it's not the be-all and end-all. But I can't shake the feeling that I shouldn't be stopping yet, and that people will look down on me for doing so.
My internet addiction is partly to blame for this, I realise. Parenting forums are disproportionately full of women who are really, really passionate about breastfeeding. It makes me lose sight of the fact that most people could not give a flying fart about what I'm feeding my child. As long as my reasons are good enough for me, then that's all that matters right?
That's the thing. To myself, my reasons for stopping sound lame. I don't like being the one who always has to get up in the night. I'm getting sick of having little fingernails sinking in to the top of my chest. I'm going back to work soon and can't be arsed to express. I want to wear dresses again. I'm going out in March and I'd like to drink cocktails and send the kids to Grandma's to sleep. I just plain don't really want to do it anymore. All these reasons seem selfish and trivial, and I get annoyed with myself that I'm not selfless enough to just put all these aside for a few more months so that my baby can have better milk and I don't have to give any money to Mr Cow and Mr Gate. If it was anyone else telling me they wanted to give up and felt bad about it, I'd tell them not be so daft. Perhaps we are biologically designed to breastfeed longer, but sometimes life just gets in the way. But as always, we're our own harshest critics.
The guilt is not enough to keep me going though. And I think that's OK. I don't want to do it out of guilt. I want to look back at breastfeeding as something I loved to do, not as something I felt pressured in to. Apparently, breastfeeding promotion has moved on from "Breast is best" to "Every breastfeed counts", so I'm going to try and keep that in mind, because I can count an awful lot of them, and I'm proud of that. Even if I could do better, I've done well.