I love the idea of attachment parenting. Cosleeping, carrying the baby in a sling, extended breastfeeding – what wonderful ways to show your child that you care for them and are willing to sacrifice your own comfort and convenience for their needs. I’ve done a fair bit of cosleeping, baby wearing and exclusively breastfeeding these past 6 months and I feel so close to my baby.
BUT I can’t deny that what we have done this weekend seems to be the best parenting move we have ever made.
We weren’t getting much sleep at all. Reuben’s eczema became very severe and he was waking every hour scratching himself. He wore a onesie and scratch sleeves which stopped the bloody gouging of his face but he learnt to rub his arms, legs and face against the bed and himself to satisfy the urge to itch. I was up every 40 minutes to pin him down so that he could fall back to sleep again. From 3am onwards I was cosleeping with him nursing most of the rest of the night to keep him calm. This was only 5 days ago.
Then 2 things happened- the dietician advised we trial 2 weeks of no breast milk so that we could control exactly what he was eating to find triggers, andy wonderful husband arranged for me to have my first ever full night away from Reuben so I could catch up on my sleep. He cleverly organised my caring mother-in-law to stay at our place to look after Reuben while we were at a Travellodge only 2 minutes walk away. This was perfect for reducing my first-night-away anxiety.
So at 7.30pm on Saturday Reuben had his last ever breastfeed. Except I didn’t know it at the time, so it was rather short and hurried and uneventful!
The next morning we discussed how Reuben had coped without night nursing and it turned out he only wanted one feed at 4am. At this point we decided to do two things that I really wasn’t sure I was ready for:
1. Stopping Breastfeeding cold turkey
2. Moving Reuben into his own room
Well, I might not have been ready for it, but Reuben certainly was! The first night he went to sleep without a feed at 8pm and woke only at 12 and then for a feed at 4am. That was all! He slept until 7am. He then napped like a pro in his cot twice yesterday during the day.
This is only his second night and although I’m awake typing this at 2am, he is still asleep. He has barely stirred since 8pm. I’m sleeping lightly, ready to jump up at any sound of distress but he is sound asleep!
Any concerns I had of him missing his mummy have completely gone. I guess the sound of us breathing and the smell of my breast milk was more distracting than calming. It has helped that the strong steroids are calming his eczema as well.
And what about feeding – doesn’t he miss the comforting closeness of breastfeeding? How about the superior taste of breast milk over Neocate formula? What about his struggle at drinking from bottles?
No, no and no. This morning, while I made up a bottle he grabbed the teat and put it in his mouth. When I was holding him to feed he patted my chest (to signal hunger) for all of 10 seconds before reaching out towards the bottle. He hasn’t tried to breastfeed once. The closest he’s come is biting my shoulder. But I think that was a teething thing more than a hunger thing. >Sob< I miss the closeness far more than he obviously does! At a mere 6 months old my baby is showing clear signs of independence and moving on from relying solely on mummy.
And that is how it should be.
As much as I am breaking up inside at the thought that my baby will be a man some day, I have to accept that this is just the first in many steps that will lead him to his independence from me. I have to follow his cues and needs, not my own and help him to help himself (as per Montessori philosophy).
While I lie here, in the middle of the night, with bulging boobs, I am reassured that for my baby this was completely, totally, the right thing to do.