I knew this time around, I wanted to be in it for the long haul. On my first child I had to stop feeding at 9 months as I was returning to work. I work in an operating theatre on various shift patterns so it was impossible to even keep one feed up a day. It broke my heart. Both of us suffered and it wasn't a pleasant experience at all. This time, I wasn't returning to work so I had every intention to just keep going.
Breastfeeding Ophelia was like a dream. I was confident at it and very comfortable doing it in public. It was our 'alone' time together. Something that was just ours. Even when she started weaning on solids we were still feeding about 4 times a day. It was all going so well.
At about 8 months she cut back on breastfeeding but was still feeding every morning and every night-time. She still used me for comfort if she was upset or unwell. I honestly couldn't have predicted what was about to come.
We'd had a very successful family photo shoot and I had decided that I'd like a couple of pictures of us breastfeeding. We were setting a date for the shoot. I couldn't wait as I hardly have any pictures of me feeding Eva and it's such a lovely thing to remember.
I can't remember the exact date that she rejected me but I remember where we were. At around 9.5 months old we were sat on one of our sofas. I had Eastenders on so I was watching that whilst getting ready to feed. I popped her to my chest and she just looked at me. I pushed her on but she swiftly pulled back and started getting a bit aggressive, hitting and pushing me away. To say I was shell shocked would be an understatement. At first I thought it was some sort of game she was playing. She would pinch me and I would try and get her to latch on. After about 10 minutes I soon realised she just didn't want to feed. So many feelings were running through my mind. As someone suffering from PND as you can imagine this did not help with my mental state. I tried to talk to my husband about it but all I could do was cry and he just brushed it off and said 'she's probably tired, she's bound to do it again,'.
I listened to him and I was hopeful which I certainly regret now as I think it would have been easier to have just carried on thinking she was done. I attempted to feed her more times that day and each time I was met with grabbing and pulling. This went on for days. I tried everything. Lots of skin to skin time, cuddles and love but she just repeatedly rejected me. I clung on to the hope for a long time. I began getting desperate. I would try and put her to my chest for weeks, just hoping that she would start up again but she wasn't having any of it.
I really didn't know how to deal with the situation. As the mum, I always thought the decision on when to stop breastfeeding would be mine. I always thought I would be in control. I'd never heard of this happening to anyone I knew. I trawled the internet looking for something personal that I could relate to but I didn't find anything. I felt like a total utter failure. I slipped into that dark, depressive PND state again. I let the situation be worse than it was.
I can't tell you how many weeks I cried for. I was overcome with so many emotions. I blamed myself. Of course I would. I was a bad mum, it was my fault for going out with my friends one night, my fault for not paying her enough attention.
It took another blogger saying to me, 'just think of the positives Kerry, you've fed her for 9.5 months which is great and she has made the decision to stop herself. She taken it our of your hands. She was ready,' that I realised it wasn't my fault.
It was me that wasn't ready. It was me that had the issues not Ophelia. I guess in a sense I thought that once she stopped feeding she wasn't my little baby anymore. She would be more grown up. As you know my PND has engulfed me this year and changed who I am. However, the one thing I knew I was fantastic at as a mum and something I always got right was feeding Ophelia. I didn't want that taken away from me as I knew I rocked at it. On the days when anxiety took over and I couldn't leave the house, I knew that I was still able to feed my baby and have that bond with her. I just wasn't ready.
I'm ok with it now. I can see how happy she is and that's the main thing. I'm just gutted that we never got that photoshoot. At least the memories are there.