Breast was my best December 19 2014

**This was written under the extreme influence of the mummy blues, apologies for the following ravings.

I’ve got the sads today. A real attack of the mother’s guilt, with a double whammy of hormones with a capital ‘H’. Basically it all makes me a bundle of unhappiness limply wrapped in a discoloured terry robe (and it’s 3pm).

You see, I have decided to wean Elsie. She is nearly 15 months old and I have had enough, she however it seems has not. When denied a feed Elsie claws at my neck, rips at my clothes and throws herself backwards in my arms to try to manoeuvre into feeding position, all to no avail, except to make the tears flow on my cheeks.

There is no real reason to wean now, except I am going away for a girl’s trip and I want to have a break. Yup, I am a selfish, selfish mummy and my mind is made up. So it’s now or never.

Cue major guilt pangs.

I have never managed expressing and bottle feeding well so instead I am cutting her off and letting the taps run dry. And thanks to Her Highness Hormones I find myself moping about with one cranky bub – and I am way, way, way to tender in the shirtfront department to be hugged. Others brush off my heavy heart: ‘she’s had a good go’, or ‘you need time away, it will do you good’ they say. But still I am a little deflated – and not just in the bra cup!

For virtually the last six years I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding. Having a baby attached to me at virtually all times has consumed my life and my identity. I don’t remember life B.C. (before children) aside from a few fuzzy flashes of hazy nightclubs or lazing about WHENEVER I LIKED!

All I end up doing is comparing myself to my non-parenting friends who are kicking some serious career goals at the moment… and think what have I done in all this time?

I know I am blessed beyond words: three mostly happy, sometimes snotty but otherwise very healthy children and an incredibly loving and hardworking husband. Please, bear with me, I am not being ungrateful, I am just not sure what comes next.

Everyone else seems to know when their last one is on the ground, but I don’t, I am just not sure everyone in our family is here yet. Another baby is a lovely thought, but with number four comes all sorts of extra considerations – we’ll need a bigger car, a bigger house, a much bigger bank balance...

If not, if three’s our number then am I drying up the wells for good? Just the thought makes me well up and want to cling to every mid-feed cuddle like a dying man to air.

How many times I have tapped my feet impatiently or pulled my babes off as they suckled peacefully, desperate to go and plonk myself on the lounge to watch some mind-numbing television show; preferring reality-whatever over the reality of my babies stroking my hair or fiddling with my fingers while they fed. How often I wished those drawn-out-never-ending feeds away, wanting time to myself and even more time between feeds to enable a glass of wine without guilt. Now I may have that forever, and could drink as much wine as I please (well not too much, I suffer extraordinarily bad hangovers these days!)… yet all I want is time to go backwards.

I am not an ardent ‘breast is best’ campaigner. I believe every story is different and families must do whatever works for the peace and wellbeing of everyone. I don’t ever want to underestimate the difficulties many encounter trying to do something that is presented as such a ‘natural’ and ‘easy’ part of motherhood. I love breastfeeding and have been incredibly lucky to have been able to feed all three of my children for at least 12 months each. Mostly I am thankful to my children for allowing me share all those quiet times together (and the ones that were not so quiet), that gave us time to bond and reflect.

And so it seems the time has come for me to put away those seriously sagging feeding bras and rediscover the structure of the underwire, and try to rebuild my cleavage and confidence once again. It is time for both of us to gain some independence. It will be difficult for me to see myself any other way than as a walking talking dairy cow, but it will come – once a long, long time ago I was known as ‘Perky Penny’. I do truly see the wisdom of ‘happy mothers, happy others’ and I know I will cherish my time away catching up with dear, dear friends I no longer see nearly enough, but that doesn’t mean somewhere inside I won’t be craving curling up in my feeding chair in the nursery, cradling one of my little ones, taking the time to nurture each other just a little more.