I am still feeding M.
He likes it because it's easy and cuddly and warm and tastes good. (I presume, he's nine and a half months old, he can't tell me any of this).
I like it because it's easy and cuddly and free and it doesn't involve boiling kettles at the last minute and then desperately sticking them in the freezer in the hope they'll cool down, or midnight trips to the all night chemist, or washing up.
But mostly, this time, I like it because he's my baby.
I never had this with any of the others. I stopped feeding L at about eight months because I was fed up of nursing bras and I wanted some new ones. (B obliged with a Christmas trip to Rigby & Peller). I stopped feeding S and A at about seven months because they'd got too big to feed at the same time (they kept bashing their heads) and there was a wedding I wanted to go to to which they weren't invited.
That's it, incidentally. The last feed. It was also the last day they woke up in the middle of the night. I still try not to take that personally.
(Can I also take a moment to point out that I am not a werewolf? That's L's head just out of the picture, and her hair on my hand. Not a major hirsuitism problem.)
Anyway, the point is that neither decision was difficult. Neither decision was, in fact, much discussed or thought about. I simply decided to stop and stopped.
But M's different, somehow. He's my baby. My last baby. The last time I feed him will be the last time I feed anyone. I wouldn't say I particularly enjoy breastfeeding. It's just a thing I do, like cutting my fingernails or blowing my nose, not remarkable enough to be enjoyed or disliked. Yet despite that I find myself very reluctant to stop, to move on from the baby stage. To accept that this is the end.
I said, half-jokingly, but safe in the knowledge that my children get teeth late, that I would stop when he got teeth.
His first came through today.
I also said, half-jokingly, that I'd stop when I got the chance to do something else.
We are away for two nights at the beginning of April (another wedding), and I am trying to work out if I can fit a pump in my luggage.
I said I'd stop when I got fed up of nursing bras and breast-feeding clothes.
I went back into those Rigby & Peller numbers about three weeks ago. I have perfected the art of breast-feeding contortionism.
I said I'd stop when he stopped.
And so I find myself in a position of willing my baby to reject me, while knowing I will be terribly upset when he does. Because then it isn't my decision and I don't have to make it. It's up to him. And if he doesn't want it then there's no point in wondering whether I should give it to him or not. I won't be able desperately to hang on to my baby because he won't be a baby any more. Right?
Really, I know I should just give up. Move him on to formula (which he'll take quite happily in extremis - crisis moments such as me going to the theatre, or someone's birthday drinks), let him grow his teeth in peace and enjoy the wedding without worrying about unsightly leakage, my supply drying up or just being highly uncomfortable.
Yet, somehow, it's still not a decision I'm ready to make.
Sometimes I think I should just get over myself.
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