I have to start this post by saying it’s not my usual kind at all. If you’re friends or family that check in to catch up on photos of Lyra then you’re probably not going to want to read this because things are about to get real personal around here and I’m going to be mentioning my boobs. A lot. I try and keep this blog my own little happy place but to be honest whilst I was going through this I felt so alone that I want to share so that someone going through a similar thing may stumble across this post and know they’re not the only ones that are feeling that way.
So, that’s a pretty dramatic introduction. Eek. But my breastfeeding journey with Lyra has always been something that I’m immensely proud of. After a tough first couple of days as Lyra got used to life outside of the womb we have been lucky in that breastfeeding has been relatively easy for the two of us. I’ve had my fair share of sore and cracked nipples and I definitely felt overwhelmed when I was exhausted, Lyra was crying in the middle of the night and I knew I was the only one who could soothe her. But knowing that I could comfort her, that was a feeling that got me through and made me feel like I had superpowers. Even when conceiving our second child took months longer than expected and we suspected that it was due to me still breastfeeding I still couldn’t stop. I wanted Lyra to stop when she was ready and since she was always on the go now I really relished those evening sleepy, cuddly feeds.
Fast forward a couple of months and Lyra’s feeds had naturally dwindled down to first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I fell pregnant and wondered how it might affect Lyra’s feeds but felt pretty good when I had no extra tenderness and soreness. That was until about eight weeks in. And then it all changed. I started finding myself getting extremely frustrated whilst Lyra was nursing, I was clock watching and willing her to finish especially during the evening feed. I tried to distract myself by going on my phone but it just got worse. After a week or so I was dreading that evening feed. It wasn’t painful as such but my skin was crawling, I’d end up in tears and sometimes it was all I could manage not to rip her off me and flee the room. Now that does sound dramatic but it’s how I felt. And then of course because I was fidgeting and uncomfortable it was keeping Lyra wide awake and so the feeds were lasting longer. Throw in a big dollop of Mum guilt and you can imagine how miserable I was.
I know what you’re thinking, I should have just stopped nursing her, and that would have made things easier in the short run. But I’ve already talked about how good breastfeeding had made me feel and how important it was to me that Lyra stopped when she was ready. Plus I didn’t want my last memories of nursing her to be these, I was holding out hope of ending on a positive note and I didn’t want it to impact on my nursing relationship with my second child. And then of course there’s the Mum guilt again. I didn’t want to deny Lyra something that comforted her just because I wasn’t enjoying it. I was already carrying a child that was going to change her life I didn’t want it to take this too. Again, all very dramatic, sorry! Something had to be done though because I was pretty much feeling like the world’s worst Mum. I looked online and found a couple of articles about breastfeeding/nursing aversion and that’s when everything clicked. As silly as it sounds I immediately felt better knowing that it wasn’t just me and since most of them talked about happening for relatively short periods of time I believed that I could get through it. We decided that Matt would take over the bedtime routine as that was the worst feed for me as I was tired and couldn’t distract myself as easily. I tried to stay hydrated and Matt would chat to me in the mornings whilst I fed Lyra to take my mind off of it. I still had some tough days but by the time I was a couple of weeks into my second trimester it had fizzled out and nursing was once again enjoyable.
I’m so glad that I stuck it out although I really wouldn’t blame anyone for stopping breastfeeding because of it, it was such a horrible experience. I knew there were lots of physical obstacles to breastfeeding but I had no idea there would be mental ones too. As it turned out Lyra carried on nursing for another month and then self weaned over Christmas. I guess we both got caught up in the excitement and busyness of the festive period because I can’t even remember her last feed. I’m a little disappointed at that but at the end of the day I have 20 months of memories and that’s good enough for me.
Photos are a selection from our whole breastfeeding journey