Our Honeykids Senior Writer Michelle Santoso shares her own personal story about weaning after two years of breastfeeding: the aches and the relief.
I suppose the journey of parenthood is riddled with many situations such as these. Time blows by so quickly the minute your baby is born. Just a second ago, you were his only source of food, while the next he’s running around and doesn’t need you like he used to. A friend once told me that being a mother was a series of last moments: the last time he crawls, the last time he’s a baby, the last, the last, the last…
The worst part about this tear-jerking fact is that your children have no recollection of the early milestone moments both of you have shared. While children take the motto “keep moving forward” quite literally – never really looking back – as the parent, you keep fond memories of those early days. In that, there is something quite profoundly beautiful and telling of a mother’s love and sacrifice. It is a small but sure reality check and perhaps a glimpse of future heartaches all mothers will have to face.
For me, this first reality check came in the form of weaning my breastfeeding baby. My baby and me had spent two years on the breast, enduring blood, sweat, and tears. For a moment, it felt like we could go on forever, but forever is a long time, and as I said before, time blows by quickly.
I remember my son’s birth just like yesterday – the pain though tremendously traumatic (if you don’t think so, you’re lying or you’re a unicorn) was quickly replaced with baby giggles, milestones, and first words. At the time of delivery, I promised myself I would only breastfeed for six months, coupled with a few breast pumping sessions, but quickly realized that using the breast pump was too tedious. With the washing, sterilizing, putting the parts on and off, I finally decided for the sake of my sanity, to drop it all together to exclusively breastfeed my son. Next thing you know, it was two years in the making.
Breastfeeding has its moments, including the times when it has been hard. There have been cracked nipples, engorged breasts, not being able to wear dresses without any buttons, holding in your bladder because you just started your session, and thoughts like, ‘If I move now, he might take longer to fall asleep.’ But above all, though I complained, I loved to hold my baby (who though now is a toddler, will always be a baby to me) in my arms or sideways/on top of me/upside down and cherish those moments.
Sometimes – ok, all the time – he would fall asleep in my arms leaving sweat stains on my shirt. Other times, a giggle-fest would ensue. My favourite thing to do was to fake lunge a kiss towards him that would set off the kind of laugh I will never forget. Or his small hands softly grazing the side of my face, tapping my chest lightly or playing with my hair. These are the things that make the late night breastfeeding sessions bearable and our two-year journey a special one. Hallmark had nothing on me.
Friends of mine who were also going through the same kind of journey, discussed at length, how to wean our children from breastfeeding. At the time, it was filled with a mix of emotions but mostly affixed with lots of self doubting moments that this was maybe not the right time yet. Looking back, it seemed almost trivial because the amount of time we spent worrying about this is nothing compared to how fast children actually forget. Of course some refuse with fits of crying but lucky for me, I had left the country with my husband on a week long vacation, while baby spent two weeks at grandma’s getting spoiled and distracted. By the time we had come home, breastfeeding was a far away land.
I can both proudly and sadly say that my son has graduated to a well deserved “Big Boy” title. This means nights where I’m no longer asleep half naked, no signs of masuk angin (a cold), no more buttonless tops/dresses that need pulling up or off in public, bras that don’t have the open and close function from the front, and most of all, I was glad to have my arms back (his head was getting pretty heavy). We’ve both come out from this two-year ride and I can seriously tell my girls, “Good job and see you next time.”
My body readjusted its hormones from a drop of oxytocin and prolactin but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a long cuddle and a few sessions of kiss-fest with bub. Were there tears, you ask? There were, of course. We live in the real world where my son is 2, after all, and tantrums are abound at this age (God help us all). What’s funny is that one time during his hour-long tantrum, he yelled out a “Neneeeennnnn!” (a word we use for breastfeeding) and upon final frustration, I offered him the breast and he lunged forward. I fake laughed a giggle and he started giggling with a look on his face almost as if he felt shame for the first time. He quickly said “No” followed by an “Eeeee”, a language cue we use to name things that are dirty.
And just like that, our journey ended as if it had never existed.
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