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The mysterious grief of weaning

After 20 months of breastfeeding my final baby, a record for me by more than 12 months, I made a decision to wean her, even though neither she or I wanted to. I needed to, though. My chronic health, in terms of mental health and energy levels, just couldn't keep up with the demand. It all came to a head about a week ago, when I knew that I finally needed to stop in order to relieve the stress that was spilling over into family life. It was seeping out of me, the lack of energy, the inability to be a good wife and mother to everyone else in the family because I was so determined to be a good mother to my youngest. It is in my nature not to see the crisis for what it is until it is quite built up.

The thing is, I had tried to wean before, but Asher has a will of iron, and she knows full well when her precious 'boob boob' is being inched away. And because she would howl so forlornly, and because it would interrupt our sleep which we had fought so hard to gain, both my husband and I would cave within hours of the pathetic attempt. And then secretly, Asher and I would cuddle and bond over our reunion.

So when I realised that this was going to have to happen, I decided to remove myself from the equation. Remove the choice. I booked myself into a hotel, and arranged for 2 nights away from the family, not just to allow the Big Wean to begin in earnest, but also to allow me a period of time to let the stress pressure cooker steam out of my head.

But on the Wednesday before I was due to leave, I started to feel the heaviest sadness. I was very tearful every time I looked at Asher, and our last few feeds together were heart wrenching. She is so calm and gentle, like a lover, while she feeds. The stroking and the gazing up at me, when she is usually all "NO!" and HARRUMPH and running away and exhausting. I decided to just process the sadness like a mild grief, and it has been really confronting to face up to those emotions, because this isn't just about the final feed, it's about that first feed, when her body had only recently arrived earthside, twanging nerves and overwhelm after a fast and furious delivery, and she found ME, my voice, and my breast, and she felt safe. I was IT for her, all she needed.

Except something was wrong. She could latch on to me, but she couldn't draw any nourishment out. It was agony for me, and it didn't ease, and I was engorged and desperate, and watching her losing weight fast. For 5 weeks, we endured the lack of common sense that can sometimes be institutionalised medical care. I had a pediatrician, 2 doctors and a midwife declare that she was fine, that we should keep 'practicing' while pumping at the same time, and that she had a 'short tongue' but that she would work it out. It was a traumatic reminder of my experience with Daniel, vomitting violently after ever feed, and being told by doctor after doctor that he was FINE, I was just overfeeding him, I was a first time mum, I was hyperventilating...

And in this situation, no one looked at me, not once. No one looked at my bruised and shredded breasts and asked, "But can you endure this?" But that might have been partly my fault, because I was determined.

In my head, I HAD to endure this. I had learnt so much about my children, our genes, our microbiome, our dietary needs in order to thrive, and I knew that for us, formula was NOT an option. The contents of formula helped my first children to grow, but not well and not in health. The ingredients in formula were food that allowed parasites and fungus, that were already wreaking havoc in their guts, to thrive.

And Asher was my 'food do over'. So I was firm on this. She would feed even if my boobs fell off.

A GAPS mother eventually pointed me to the fact that she might have a posterior tongue tie (so severe that it holds the tongue back in the m