This post has not been written by me. This is the moving story of my dear friend Nancy Sawaya and her journey with her cute baby girl Sophie (don’t you think she’s adorableeee?) about breastfeeding into toddlerhood. Nancy is a working mom who lives in Belgium with her husband and daughter. She enjoys reading and writing whenever she has the time & going to the bathroom alone :D. I hope you enjoy her story like I did, as I’m sure many of you can relate.
I am a mother to an 18 months old beautiful little girl. Before she was born, breastfeeding was the last thing on my mind. I had not thought about it, I had no idea how it is done or even if I wanted to do it. I was all prepared with a full set of bottles, a sterilizer and a bottle heater.
Then, she was born after 12 hours of labor exhausted and all pink. It took her 30 seconds from the moment they placed her on my belly to crawl up to me, look me straight in the eye, search for the nipple and latch herself on it. She latched and started suckling like it was the most natural thing in the world, like we both have been doing this for a lifetime and right then right that second, I fell in love with her and with breastfeeding her. Breastfeeding came naturally to us, we both enjoyed it, it was and still is so blissful.
Days passed and we both got comfortable together. The drunken look on her face after she had finished her meal was so surreal, you cannot help but admire the effect my milk had on her. I was hooked!
When my little girl was born, many of my friends had either given birth or were about to. So we were all so excited to discuss everything from pregnancy, to weird cravings and mood swings, to delivery and finally breastfeeding. You could feel how everyone around you was so supportive that you are breastfeeding and would always find words to encourage you and motivate you. After all, it is the recommendation of so many health organizations. When my best friend gave birth 5 weeks later, it became obvious that she would also be my breastfeeding buddy. Even though we lived in different time zones, we still supported each other, we discussed everything one can think of about babies, breastfeeding, exhaustion, you name it. My night was her afternoon and her night was my morning. Since we were up at all hours of the day breastfeeding in those early days, we just seemed to be constantly discussing our babies and their feeding habits. Breastfeeding just made sense to us and it strengthened our bond.
As the months passed, I kept on breastfeeding. It was working for us quite well, why change it. We celebrated our first milestone, six months of exclusive breastfeeding. Supplementing with artificial milk was the last thing on my mind and even though I kept hearing those comments about the need to give her the bottle, I was so adamant about never giving an artificial milk when I have the most natural one available and practical. I mean have you ever seen a formula baby’s bag? You need a porter to carry all that weight. Ours only contained some diapers and wipes. I could even carry my normal stylish bags and just toss in a diaper or two in there since bottles, milk cans and water bottles are really not needed.
After her first birthday, I started getting those pieces of advice here and there. Oh she is not sleeping the night yet? You are still feeding her at night? You should stop, you should force her to sleep. Just leave her to cry and eventually she will understand and start sleeping. It only takes 3-4 nights of crying and then she will be fine, or will she? I just could not bring myself to hear her cry. I could not bring myself to deny her something that makes her happy and secure, even if at the expense of me waking up two or four times a night. It was well worth it, she is a happy, cheerful, smart and sweet little girl and I could not ask for more. I know when she is ready she will sleep the night and till then I am still here for her. I have to admit it is not easy at times. A lot of nights, I just want to scream but my husband always managed to knock some sense into me. After all, she is just a baby she is not doing it on purpose, he always said.
She has been breastfeeding for 18 months now. Most if not everyone I know has long stopped to breastfeed. Most if not everyone around me finds it weird that I am still breastfeeding her. Now instead of words of encouragement, I get strange looks. Those who I used to talk to about breastfeeding are no longer interested. They have turned the page. With the exception of my husband, my biggest supporter and my mother, I have no one to vent to. Even if I wanted to just talk about why my daughter still wakes up during the night, I would automatically get bombarded with a lot of unwanted advice about how it is time to wean her. I would get asked when do I plan to wean her and why haven’t I already. No one knows her as much as I do, yet everyone seems to have an opinion about our relation.
Then just when I thought things will never improve, she surprises me by accepting her daddy to cuddle with her at night when it was only me who does that for her entire 18 months of life. Just like that no crying. A little bit of protesting the first time when she was not expecting her routine to change. Not only she accepted daddy’s cuddle, but she also went on the start calling for him when she woke up. Just like that my little girl was giving up a little of her comfort zone when she was ready to do it on her own.
With some help from me, she started a week ago dropping some feeds. No crying no drama no tears. She is doing so because she is ready not because we are forcing her to do so. I know we are a long way from weaning but I am confident that she will reach that milestone when she is ready. Right now, I am enjoying her being close to me and seeing her excitement when she knows she will get mommy’s milk. Right now, I am enjoying those precious moments with her that I know will not last forever. My little girl is growing up fast, soon she will not need me but for the time being I just know I want to benefit from the very little time she is still little.