As I sit in his darkened room, I know that this is this is the last time I shall do this for him and as he slowly falls asleep, my tears come, silently and softly. He is growing up and whilst I have met all his other milestones with excitement, tinged with only a tiny bit of sadness, this one is perhaps the hardest so far and quite unexpectedly.
I have fed him for sixteen months and it is time to stop. Throughout his life, the decisions we have made have been led by him and it is only right that I take the same attitude when it comes to breastfeeding. As much as my heart is telling me to keep going, my head knows that the time is right to stop.
For the first six months of his life he drank nothing but breast milk, either from me or painstakingly expressed by me. He continued to feed several times a day and night for some months after that and at 12 months we introduced some cow and goat's milk. For the last six months he has gradually and at his own pace dropped feeds, until, for the last few weeks, I have only been feeding him before he goes to bed.
It hasn't always been easy, sometimes it has been relentless, painful, exhausting, frustrating and demoralising, but we have come through it. Up until now I have persevered, because I knew it was the best thing for him and that to stop would be only for my own reasons.
However, now things are different. He is becoming harder to settle in the evenings and his continual swapping sides, wiggling and settling much better with some milk from a bottle, is telling me something is not right for him and he is ready to stop.
Tomorrow I hope I shall feel differently. I hope to feel proud that I have breast fed for sixteen months, that he has never been given formula*, that I have stopped when he is ready and not because I have got fed up with it. Tomorrow I hope I shall feel that I did my best and on this occasion, at least, my best was good enough.
This evening, though, on the day I fed my baby for the last time, I just feel sad and emotional.
* Please understand that I am making no judgement on those who do use formula and this is not intended to offend or begin a breast/bottle debate. It is simply what I wanted to do and how I feel today. xx