Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The 2-year mark – Success is Sweet

That's my little boy. He's reading A Time to Kill - John Grisham.

My little boy turned 2 years old a few weeks ago. With that, it’s finally official – I have successfully achieved my goal to breastfeed him exclusively for 2 years. And let me tell you; success is sweet. 

                It was difficult, at least in the beginning. Breastfeeding did not come naturally to me, like it is for some lucky moms. It was hard, painful work – in the literal sense of word. I was diagnosed with breast abscess when my son was barely two months old, and I had incision and drainage (I&D) done, which means my breast was cut about 4 inches long to drain out the pus, and was not stitched up, but patched with  dressing to let the incision heal from inside out (whatever that means). 

                Oh, there were a couple other obstacles as well, such as the fridge breaking down, so I had to throw out 50 bags of frozen milk, and the doctor advising me to take medication to stop my milk flow as to let my incision heal. Nothing serious, nothing death-defying. 

                But you know what? What doesn’t kill you, can only make you stronger. The hardships I went through made the success even sweeter. You can only appreciate your success properly when you know how hard it was to get there. After all, you can’t make a rainbow without any rain, right? 

                In a way, breastfeeding an older infant i.e. more than 1 year old is more satisfying and rewarding. By this time, the bond between the mom and the baby would have been cemented that your baby wants to be with you all the time and mom became the ultimate comfort, which can be very flattering to the point of annoyance. (Again?? You just fed like, 10 minutes ago!) But believe me, this phase will pass. The time will come when you’ll be the one chasing your kid around, calling out “Hey (put your child’s name here), you want mommy’s milk now?” while he’s busy playing ball or building a bricks castle. 

                The convenience is nice. When travelling, I just need to bring bottles and formula for my older daughter, no milk bottles needed for my son, therefore less space taken up in diaper bags and less time washing up bottles. When he wants milk, I just sit down somewhere comfortable, keep us properly discreet and there we go. I have breastfed in zoos – on the tram and during animal shows, during corporate family days, in the middle of the living room surrounded by relatives during festive seasons, even in the middle of a futsal tournament, soaking wet and sweating profusely. I should have asked my husband to take a photo of us that time, but my face was all red and puffy, it would be too embarrassing even for me to look at it. Heh. 

                I’ve stopped pumping at work now, and supplementing with some fresh milk, as he still won’t take formula. He doesn’t drink too much milk, but I’m not too worried as he’s a big eater for such a little guy – you’ll be surprised how much food can go into that tiny body – he gets his calcium dose from other sources such as cheese and broccoli, his favourite vegetable. But as soon as I get home, he’ll run after me, asking to be picked up, and wants his milk immediately, hands patting my breasts. Sometimes I had to let dinner start without me. I keep asking my boy to stop for a while, and we’ll continue ‘milk’ right after I eat. But he’ll mumble and shake his head, and put up his little hand, telling me to wait. Huh.      
                People are telling me to stop, now that my son is already 2 years old. He’s getting bigger, taller and heavier for me to hold on my lap. As he feeds, his legs dangled around and his hands would sometimes rub my nose, play with my hair strands, and pat my chin. Sometimes he smiles as I tickle him, showing his little dimple. And I realized how much I love breastfeeding him, and how much I treasure this bonding time with him, and I just can’t bring myself to wean him off, at least not yet. Despite the many times he wakes up at night to feed, and despite the clinginess that I have to sometimes cook while holding him in my other arm, I really LOVE breastfeeding. Needless to say, I’m hooked. And I’ll stay hooked until the day he pushes me away and grows up. Sob.
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