Extended breastfeeding or anything after 11 months is fairly new to me… My experience with the older two was very different.
For Kid 1, I exclusively breastfed him and this little boy could eat!! There were days in the initial 3 months that he would be on the boob for hours. He was a small baby so I think he was making up for that!!! (I would occasionally pump to help share the experience with his daddy) and since I became a first-time mum, I suffered post-partum depression for almost three months (which I will talk about as I suffered through all three, each at a different level. But the first time was much worse…more in detail in a later blog post). Then I found out I was pregnant with Baby No.2 when he was 9 months old and by the time he turned a year my milk supply decreased greatly and he wasn’t getting any milk when he used to latch… so he moved rather quickly on to formula (our paediatrician recommended Pedia-Sure) and then eventually on to fresh cows milk (the sudden change was very challenging on him and us). Believe it or not, we used to use a syringe (this huge 10ml from a baby aid kit we had) to feed his night-time milk during quiet time and pajama change. Eventually, it became a lot easier and months & months later he finally moved to cows milk (the little tetra packs with a straw).
With Kid 2 the story was very different… I tried to exclusively breastfeed her but her first couple of weeks into the world were not a smooth ride. She had jaundice so she had to stay in the light for hours and hours… then when she was only 10days new, she had a growing abyss on her neck that needed to be cut, drained for which she was hospitalized again..my poor munchkin!!! My heart would just break and I would be a soppy bunch of tears and try to pump milk, stay calm and be strong… (so glad for the family both my parents and my husbands were always there to help with Adam and everything else). With all the craziness happening to her and the fact that I had a very active 15-month-old, I chose to exclusively pump and feed her. This lasted till she was around her 9-10 month when because of no real stimulation and the fact that I decreased the frequency of my pumping, my milk supply stopped. And we moved her gradually to formula (Similac Total Comfort – 2).
So when it came to Baby J, I was very sure that I would exclusively breastfeed and tandem pump. The night (the fated 3rd night) when we got back from the hospital was definitely one of the worst nights I have ever had with Baby J. My milk hadn’t come in as yet and all she wanted was to be nursing, if she wasn’t latched she was crying… And I was still exhausted that most times we were not latching properly (btw a proper latch is a team effort between baby and you) it definitely did not come naturally. My nipples were sore and cracked.. so that morning I started pumping to help my milk come in fast and to give them a bit of a break from baby. I started freezing most of the pumped milk for times I needed a break or if I wasn’t home and she needed milk. But to maintain my supply I would always pump wherever I was to make sure my breasts knew it was time to produce. After the initial 4-6 weeks, nursing becomes a breeze, like a walk in the park (literally)!!! But unlike the other two, Baby J was not a good night time sleeper. She would wake many times to be nursed. So we would always need to plan date nights and nights out with friends very carefully, even staying at certain hotels so that I could go back to the room in the middle of the night to nurse her because she stopped drinking pumped milk from the bottle around the 10-month mark. I really don’t know why she stopped, maybe she realised it tastes so much better fresh!!
And through it all here we are now. I am so proud of us, she is 19months old and we still breastfeed (only in the mornings now). I started weaning her off the nighttime feeds once she turned 18 months old and she could understand exactly why & what I was saying and doing. Of course, I gave her options; if she woke up in the night it was either fresh camel milk (she is allergic to fresh cows milk) from the sippy bottle (just a regular drinking bottle bought from Daiso) or water (Camelbak is our favourite here since she started drinking water). I am one of those mamas that cannot bear the cries of her little one, especially when things can be done at the right time to ease the symptoms. There was no crying, just a couple of restless nights with me reinforcing every time she asked (which was quite a bit in the first 2-3 nights) that no milk from mama in the night only in the morning when the sun comes up, but if she is hungry or thirsty she can drink her bottled milk or water. As the deal was that once the sun is out she can nurse from me. I am happy to report that she now sleeps straight 9-10 hours and wakes up just once at around 7 am to nurse and will have a small sleep until 8:30-9am.
So there you have it mamas, my story and journey with my three bubbas. It is something that I will definitely miss (the closeness and snuggles during those nursing times). But I am so happy to have achieved what we have together (she is my last baby) and loved all the crazy times and the blessed times.