Why I breastfeed for 18 months

When i was pregnant with my first born Kyle, I had borrowed books from the library to learn about what to expect about the pregnancy.  There was a topic on "to breastfeed or not". My mother has never breastfeed her 3 children. None of my cousins were breastfeed too. Breastfeeding was something very new to me. When I attended the prenatal education from Thomson Medical Centre, by Mrs Wong Boh Boi, she brought up the topic about breastfeeding too.

Its sounds like breastfeeding is so highly raved, i had to pay attention to it! And so, I literally studied about it as a subject on its own! I borrowed and digested books specific to breastfeeding. I watched YouTube videos on different breastfeeding positions and how to latch on. I even made my own notes on the science of breastfeeding and what are the success factors, common issues and solutions etc. (Did i mentioned somewhere that my classmates used to call me a 小博士 before?) I also did my own extensive research and invested in a breast pump most suited for my needs, so that the investment will spur me to persevere in breastfeeding!  Finally, before the D-Day, I included in my delivery plan the factors that are important for me to succeed in breastfeeding: I asked to breastfeed my son as soon as possible and also indicated total breastfeeding. NO formula milk at all. As i type this, i think i am a little crazy commander. LOL i had took it very seriously hor?

the perfect first latch on, he knew how to breastfeed himself immediately when he was born

I am a lucky mom. My son's first latch on is perfect! Instinctively, he knew how to latch on and he was a hungry sucker. He cried for milk and was not lazy to work hard for his milk (all those sweat...). He drank frequently, which i read was normal to help establish milk flow. We were all happy, until the discharged from the hospital and back to my in laws house. 

There were simply too many stresses that came when my child, the first grandson and first great grandson, was born. In fact, as I am typing this and reliving the memories of his first year, my chest tightens and I feel my heart cramping. I told hubby that year was a very dark year for me that i do not wish to recollect. We were staying with my in laws and my child being the first child of the new generation, the whole extended family were overly helpful (at that time i had thought they were very domineering). It was very overwhelming for me. My in laws were also very possessive then and wanted to dictate how to take care of this child. 

I remembered the first day when we returned home from the hospital, my mother in law and her domestic helper stood in my room to watch me breastfeed. I was initially okay cos I thought we were all women, until they started discussing "Wah! Look at his mouth! He is sucking so hard! Oh so cute! Hahahah! So funny" blah blah blah... I asked if they can leave the room but was rebutted with why they can't stay to watch as they have whatever I have too. My hormones were highly raging but I replied calmly, to ask if both of them take off their shirt now to show me their breasts too? They left the room eventually, reluctantly.

Being a new and clueless armed with theories mom, I was constantly getting bombarded every other day with if I am producing enough milk, why do I need to breastfeed my son so often? There were many unhappiness over why baby had to go back into the room to be breastfeed. My in laws dictated the timings and duration the baby must be in the living room. I remembered there was a night, I told my mother in law that it was time for me to nurse him and bed time.  She reacted by turning away from me and replying "No!" She refused to return me my baby who she had been carrying for hours even though he was crying. *shocked*

There was also many occasions when she told the baby right in front of me, that his mother "is a bad person, she is not good, she is very bad, she don't love you". She would also repeatedly tell the baby to ask his mom not to breastfeed him anymore,  cos he wants to co sleep with her instead.

When the relatives visited and I was breastfeeding in the room, I had told them I would come out soon but my mother in law barged in and tell them (the aunties) that never mind,  they can come in. The relatives were awkward but they came in anyway!!  I was boiling.  I locked the door and when she realised I did that, she was very angry. She asked my husband to ask me to open up. I remembered I was breaking down and asked him what exactly they want from me? He was breaking down too. His parents were too crazily domineering then!

Again, my mother in law kept complaining sarcastically about me locking my door, she was upset that she wants to talk to me, but I am always breastfeeding and she doesn't want to ask me questions through the door, so I began to leave a very small gap by putting a door stopper instead. My tolerance level totally diminished when there was a day, my father in law just barged in so he could talk to his son, my husband. My father in law had saw me breastfeeding but he did not leave the room and continued talking to his son!!  I didn't dare to shout out cos I felt it will bring more attention to my exposed breast,  I had to stretch my leg frantically, to pick up something that can cover up. I didn't know what had gotten over us during that period,  my husband had forgotten to ask his dad to leave the room. They have caused us such an intense stress that we didn't even know how to retaliate or fight for what is right. 

Mind you, all theses happened when I was on maternity leave! My husband who returned after work will naturally joined in the living room to watch his tiny son. And then it was late,  he had to sleep early for work tomorrow.  I literally had no more couple time with him at all. We couldn't talk about each other's day. I cried a lot during that period. Never had i been so miserable before! Though there was little my husband could do for me, but he was very very supportive of me in breastfeeding! Every time when I doubt myself if I am producing enough milk for baby, he reassured me about the big numbers of diaper changes we had daily. During my breastfeeding sessions, he would help me to place pillows around me for support and a small stool for me to rest the leg for comfort. We also started avoiding my in laws totally, by locking ourselves in the room and he represented me to talk to his mom whenever she knocked on the door and wanted to come in. 

You see, during those days, breastfeeding my son was the only enjoyable and happy thing that kept my sanity! I felt only during breastfeeding, my son truly belongs to me, that we can look lovingly into each other's eyes with no disruptions. Breastfeeding allows me to hug him close and have skin to skin contact. I can feel the baby's love and attachment to me! I may be crying but as he was nursing, he allowed me to see how much i am needed by him. Breastfeeding was what saved me from postnatal depression! I succeeded in breastfeeding simply by latching on very frequently, sometimes deliberately just to avoid the family members. This now I know, is what helped me built up the supply to be adequate for the baby's needs, cos I got no big boob (literally very small boobs).

I did not know why my son was nursing rather frequently, later i learnt that he was having growth spurts. I just focus on breastfeeding a week by another week, a month followed by another month. I didn't want to and couldn't stop breastfeeding for fear of losing my son to my in laws. I googled recipes of papaya fish soup to aid increase milk production. I drank hot beverages before nursing my son. I took fenugreek to help boost milk production.  I also expressed milk to store in the freezer. Eventually, i started storing packets and packets of milk in the freezer! I suffered from the common breastfeeding woes of sore nipples, and a super painful episode of mastitis but I just held on. I had become so attached to breastfeeding my son, I couldn't bear to stop, I don't think it's just the baby needing me, but more of me needing him!

Kyle was a michelin baby! he had my genes!

I returned to work when Kyle was 5.5 months old, and placed him in an infant care opposite my office so that sometimes I can just walk over to peep at him. My job was rather stressful as we are measured by numbers and i am required to meet clients all over Singapore. Expressing breastmilk at work for me, meant that i am dressed formally, lugging my handbag, laptop bag and another bag which contains my breast pump and cooler bag, everywhere i go! I expressed in the storeroom in the office, meetings rooms or toilets (luckily most toilets are very clean for offices in town) at clients' premises, nursing rooms in malls and all places.

Needless to say, my milk supply dropped quickly, but as baby also started taking solids, I made up by keeping to a 3 hourly pumping schedule, so that whatever I expressed combined will still be enough to feed him for that three feeds in the infant care. That means pumping 4 times during the day to yield enough for 3 ebm feeds - morning while on the way to office, lunch time, 3pm and after work on the way home! That being said, i was still waking at night for night feedings for the boy. I didn't want to stop no matter how tired I was, because I really love latching the baby as well as I feel better when I know I am giving him my milk even though I can't look after him while I am at work.

My baby was huge for my petite frame!

Now I looked back, I could have stop breastfeeding at many stages - when i was doubting myself if i had enough milk, when i was crying and felt like running away, when the akward moments happened, when i had mastitis etc etc. What fuelled the determination to breastfeed was the insecurities created by my in laws. They were so possessive that I wouldn't want them to take the baby away from me at night to co sleep with them too! But later on, i had become so attached to my boy, i couldn't think of it any other way. From my boy, I drew intense strength I never knew I have. I didn't know how I tolerated those days and stayed with my in laws for a good 4 years before we moved out on our own. I only know that with the baby I mature (even more) and think of the bigger picture. Whatever I am doing, I am doing it for my OWN family.  

Breastfeeding my boy had makes me a very happy mom. I will always fondly remember the times I held my baby in my arms, close to my chest, holding his hand, stroking his hair, playing with his feet. We looked into each other's eyes.  The love. The smiles the boy gave me when drinking my milk.  When he was older, he even said thank you to me after drinking my milk!

I love looking at my boy up close during breastfeeding

When he was about 17 months old, the infant care staffs were preparing us to promote him to playgroup at the child care side. They did advise me a couple of times that i should start him on formula soon as the child care do not have milk warmer and steriliser. It will be quite difficult for the teachers there to give him expressed breast milk (EBM). One night on the day he turned 17 months old, when he woke in the middle of the night, I couldn't get him to latch on anymore, no matter how i tried. :( He said he was afraid! I remembered I confronted the infant care if they told him he shouldn't drink mommy's milk anymore. (haha, i was very sad then ok..)

Sad as I really was, but all along I had told myself to take cue from baby to wean him off the breasts. So I started giving to him all the frozen EBM on top of what i expressed out very gradually. These milk supply was enough to last him for one month which in the last week before he turned 18 months, we also introduced formula milk which he took on very well. With that, I ended the total breastfeeding career at exactly 18 months old for Kyle, when he was promoted to playgroup. 

Even though I stopped breastfeeding Kyle, he was very attached to me and even remembered I breastfed him. Time to time, he would asked if he can take my milk again but I would apologised and said sorry no more milk production. :) 

I started my breastfeeding career again, when my second son, Kyne was borned. :) Kyne is 11 months old now and i am still total breastfeeding him. The difference is since i am not working, lucky Kyne gets to latch on all the way! And definitely i am a much happier mom cos i moved out from my in laws, before he was born. Though many people advise me otherwise, but i do not see the need to bottle train him. Latching on gives me lesser chores to do!

How long am i going to breastfeed Kyne? Haha, initially i said only 6 months, because i am a tired out mama of two. When he turned 6 months old, I told myself i will breastfeed him for one year. As he is approaching his first birthday very soon, now i say 18 months! ;p I seriously don't know how long i will breastfeed him. Maybe he will let me know the answer on his own, just like his brother did!

Ending the post with something i found on the internet:

Image credit: www.facebook.com/breastfeedingpeer

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This post is written for the “WHY I BREASTFEED FOR…..” blog train ran by MadPsychMum. There will be a total of 24 Singapore Mom Bloggers sharing the reasons or circumstances for why they breastfed for the time that they did. We hope that these stories will be of an encouragement to mums (especially first time mums) who can feel ok with their decision of whether to continue or stop breastfeeding. 
24 Moms, 24 Breastfeeding Stories! Come back to read on!

The next mom on this blog train is Adeline from Growing with the Tans.

Adeline's breastfeeding journey started off very shakily, and there were days when she wondered why she was even putting herself through all the pain of engorgement, blocked ducts, and nipple blisters. However, it's been more than nineteen months since that first poor latch, and both she and her son are nowhere ready to stop. Read all about her experience on her blog, Growing with the Tans

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