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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Bosom Buddy

From the first moment I knew I was pregnant with Pip, I knew that I wanted to breast feed him.  I just had instinctive desire to do it; I felt it would heighten the bond between us and I could not wait to have him snuggle close and suckle on me.  Of all the things I worried about in pregnancy, not being able to breastfeed was my greatest fear. I was relatively sanguine about labour, but it was the thought of potentially the breastfeeding not working out that worried me most.   After Pip was born, and we were finally left by ourselves in our room in the birthing centre, we embarked on our breastfeeding journey together.  As a novice new mother, I thought it was all going quite well, until a new midwife came on duty and proceeded to tell me I was doing it ‘all wrong’.  She was a stern, forthright, Swedish missus.  For the next hour, she made it her business to manhandle Pip into all kinds of positions until his attachment was correct.  Frankly if she’d rugby tackled my little man, she couldn’t have been rougher, but then, I was still in awe of his fragility and newness;  holding him with imaginary kid gloves. The hour we spent with the Swedish midwife was not particularly enjoyable. Her brusque bedside manner made me feel woefully inadequate and in my fragile hormonal state I found myself on the verge of tears, but in the end I was truly grateful to her. We left that hospital with the breastfeeding well and truly sorted. 

Breastfeeding Pip was all I hoped it would be.  The closeness I felt to him was wonderful. Those silent, hours in the breast feeding chair in his room, just him and I, were special moments I will remember for the rest of my life. I loved the convenience of it too, breastfeeding in public didn’t bother me, so it appealed to my go anywhere, anytime free spirit.  I found it liberating not to have to sterilise bottles, or have to rush home because I had run out of formula and needed to make up more.

As time went on and Pip approached his first birthday. I found that my feelings started to change.  Pip had started to become a grappler, a bra invader.  If I was holding him, his hand would instantly find it’s way down my top, and inside my bra, twisting my nipple or fondling my breast.  Many a photograph is testament to this. The oxytocin that seemed to help me in the early months, seemed to have waned, and instead I started to feel drained and tired. Pip had never had a bottle or formula, and at 11 months was close to being able to just have cows milk from a cup, so I soldiered on in the last month or so, knowing that the end was nigh and that this chapter would soon come to an end.  He had his last ever breastfeed on his first birthday.

Whilst I could not say he was self- weaned, he did not, in my opinion, seem to miss it.  He did not try to attach himself to my breast with any seriousness, but sometimes in a cheeky way would laugh and try and latch on until I removed myself from his reach.  The grappling and the breast fondling continued however.  We jokingly called him ‘The Groper’. Grandmother’s bras were not considered off limits either, he considered their breasts as game for a good fondling as mine.

At age one, none of this worried me. I saw him seeking out my breast as a form of self soothing comfort after the breastfeeding had finished. I thought that he would simply grow out of it.  But so far, he has not.  He is three next month and still as much of a bra invader as ever.  Sometimes I wonder if this situation has arisen because he was not ready to wean.  Perhaps I forced him into it too early, and this is his way of compensating, he finds it comforting, and a way to be close to Mamma still.

Sometimes his preoccupation with the breast can be amusing.  A little while ago, I asked him to help me bring the milk bottles in from the doorstep.  Examining the bottle of milk, Pip said.” Mummy, open your chest and pour the milk in. Then I can drink it”.  You’ve got to hand it to him for thinking outside the box.  “ No darling” I explained. “ Mummy’s make their own milk. This milk comes from cows. ” (I decided to leave the explanation of the fact that chests can’t ‘just be opened’ for another day.)

On other occasions however, his breast fixation can be embarrassing. At the swimming pool last week, he pulled down my top, exposing my chest for all to see, and announced to the other mothers, “ I’m just going to drink some milk from Mummy’s boobies” and then proceeded to give a remarkably good, but very noisy impression of Mr Frog* sucking milkshake through his straw. (*For those ancient enough to remember Bod.)

In the early morning hours when inevitably he creeps into our bed, a small hand creeps inside my nightshirt.  If I try to turn over, or remove it, he cries.  Thereafter, in those short hours before dawn, a battle commences of hand in / hand out of the nightshirt, but his continued persistence often wears me down and so I give up and let him leave it there, knowing that this is my best chance of him falling back to sleep.  Then I lie awake and wonder if a polo neck nightshirt may be a way of solving the problem.

In the cold light of day, I try to remove his hand instantly from my shirt or bra, and I’ve started to say, ‘No, we don’t do that, boobies are for babies, you’re a big boy now’. This doesn’t seem to have any impact and I’m not even sure if that’s the right thing to say or not. I should say at this point, it’s not that I’m opposed to extended breast feeding or that I have any issues with my body, in fact, I’d consider myself an open, tactile person in that regard, it’s just that for me, personally... I’ve had enough.

When I stopped breastfeeding, I felt I’d done myself proud. We’d made it to the one year threshold, and I gave myself a pat on the back.  Reflecting now, I feel that maybe it was too early, and the resultant breast fixation and continued need to fondle is because Pip wasn’t ready.  I was selfishly imposing my will on him.  Now, I feel guilty that I didn’t carry on for longer.  But most of all, after three years, I feel a little bit desperate.  They’re my breasts and I want them back.


Did you experience an ongoing attachment to the breast, post breastfeeding?  Are there any other mums with gropers or twiddlers out there? How did you encourage them to stop? 

13 comments:

  1. Lovely post which bought back a lot of memories for me. I fed my little man myself too, for the same reasons as you, and I too felt liberated that we could go anywhere and food or a drink would always be on tap. My little man also had his last drink from me on his first birthday. He was also a bit of a grabber / groper and would often have a rummage down my top, but it tailed off quite quickly, it certainly didn't persist very long otherwise I'm sure I would remember it. He does have a bit of a fascination for patting them or poking them, but that's not very often and I tell him he mustn't do it, giving the reason that I don't like it. I wouldn't beat yourself up about stopping at age one. You did what was best for you and your baby with the information you had available at the time. Even if this fixation is related (and I would doubt that it is) you couldn't see into the future and know that. I have a friend who's son is also a grabber / groper and he was bottle fed. They are men in training, maybe it's just a boy thing (I don't know if girls do it too, certainly my friend's first child - a girl - didn't do it). Good luck! It's not so bad at home, but in public must just be so embarrassing.

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    1. Thanks Polly. Yes, it's hard to know if it is related or not. I must say though, I didn't think I'd be dealing with a 3 year old groper. The absolute joke of it all is that there is very little to grope! I guess to his small hands it may not feel that way though :0)

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  2. I did pretty much the same as you. Started weaning at 12 months and gave up completely at 14 months. CK only missed it for a couple of nights but then was perfectly okay. Whenever he sees my boobs though, he squeals and claps with delight. He doesn't want to go near them apart from the occasional pat but obviously has fond memories :-)

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    1. Love the fact that he claps with delight. That's so sweet. Really made me smile.

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  3. Please please please don't beat yourself up. You stopped at the right ppoint for both YOU and Pip. If weaning went smoothly then it was the right moment, and even if it didn't there's no point carrying on if you didn't enjoy it anymore. This sounds like a comfort thing and possibly a boy thing too - he's going to be a breast man without a doubt - obviously you've had enough so it has to stop but possibly any anxiety you are feeling about it is making him hold on aswell. Maybe wean him off this too ... so next time he does it ... he can have three minutes and let him know this counting down the minutes until you remove your hand ... then gradually decrease the fonling time. Yes, he will be frustrated but if you hold a kind but firm boundary he will get the message. Also and this might sound like a completely batty idea ... next time you are cuddled on the sofa have a teddy (make it a new one) down your top (so not a huge teddy) so that he can pull it out ... tell him it has mummy booby magic - or something like that - and that he can ciuddle special booby teddy instead of yours. Just thinking of ways you can help him transfer his attachment from your boobs onto something else. If something like this helps give him the same teddy when he crawls into your bed in the morning. This is nothing to do when you weaned ... he's just very attached to them regardless. Hope this helped in some way.

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    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a helpful comment. Yes, I think maybe you're right, I might need to take a 'weaning' approach. I like the teddy/ toy idea. He loves soft toys so a special one may work. Thanks. x

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  4. This post made me smile too and brought back some very special memories for me. I have none existence boobies referred to in the past by some as bee stings or fried eggs and I spent my pregnancy believing I simply wouldn't be able to breast feed as they possibly couldn't hold enough to nourish a mouse let alone a baby. Little Man was just over 9 weeks early and the first thing I was told about was the importance of my breast milk and the immunity it would provide. It was the only thing I could do for him, he was in an incubator being cared for by a team of doctors and nurses so my role was minimal - but providing breast milk only I could do, so I set about the pimping with vigour. My milk supply was never huge, I will never forget my glad hours spent double pumping to get 30mls and someone sitting next to me and filling 2 bottles in half the timeout I persevered and that first proper breast feed I had at 3 and a half weeks old was one of my most treasured memories. He came home at 6 weeks old and we were getting really well established on the breast when he was seriously poorly and rushed to intensive care. I think the stress and the return to expressing finished me off and my milk supply dried up. Once he was better and feeding I couldnt satisfy him and not one nurse told me to bottle and breast feed and rebuild it up sadly. So he only got breast milk for 10 weeks and only 3 or 4 of that was proper feeding but he was a boob grabber for a long time, didn't matter who, his hand would go down their top. My second son only got 3 weeks of feeding as he was a very poorly baby and rapidly deemed failure to thrive so for his own health was on high calorie formula for a long time, but he too loved his hand down a top. I agree with older mum, he is going to be a boob man!! I love her idea as well of the bear to try and transfer his need to do it. In fairness my 2 simply grew out if it and learnt not to do it.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment. I'm glad that you got the opportunity to breast feed both your boys even if it wasn't for as long as you might have hoped.

      I think you're right, he is going to be a boob man!

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  5. By the way my comment is written on my phone and should read pumping not pimping!!

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  6. I agree that this is a comfort thing only and is by no means a negative on any choices you made with regard to ceasing breast feeding and starting weaning. Some children have a dummy or blanket, Pip has boobies haha. I was unable to breastfeed J2, but since day dot bottle feeding he has held my necklace while he fed. That is exactly what he goes for in the night, or if he is upset. If for any reason I am not wearing a necklace, I have a small mole behind my ear, which is what he looks for in replacement. I was glad to read that my little man is not the only bed invader!xxx

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    1. J2 must be clever - he's got a back up. That's what Pip needs - his is going to be a teddy! Yes, you're definitely not alone with the bed invader. Sometimes I wonder..will we ever get to sleep in our bed on our own ever again?

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  7. I'm making my way through your entries and was glad to find this one. YES. Oh my gosh yes. My son is 2.5. He self-weaned completely at 13 months. At the time I was supplementing with Rice Milk as he has a dairy intolerance. I then learned Rice Milk was terrible for children (organic and inorganic arsenic levels are high in that stuff for a little body - yikes - you live and learn) but my point with the Rice milk was I think he self-weaned because by 10 or so months he was taking to a sippy cup along with the breast and being a very busy boy (still incredibly so) he found it better to run around with a sippy than momma's boob.

    Anyway, since then he's become a breast man all over again. He's all about "boobies" and mine particularly though his nanny's and daddy's are not safe from his little hands.

    He loves to ask if he can kiss them. Touch them. He even asks me if my boobs will go to the store along with us. What?

    Anyway, he's a boob man and he weaned himself. So, I am not sure there is a correlation with that. And I frankly doubt it has to do with breastfeeding either. I think it's either children in general or boys in general that are just biologically drawn to breasts. That there is something magical about breasts. The look of them, feel, etc.

    But let me tell you - it's embarrassing. And the older he gets (he's only 2 and a half now) the more so it's getting. Awkward and such.

    Now with another baby on the way I DREAD Eli watching me breastfeed! I'm so afraid he's going to want to do it too (which I'll be firm NO on that) or just be downright annoying about it!

    But breastfeeding was everything I didn't expect it to be. I was afraid. I was nervous of the idea. I was sure I was going to do so but I wasn't particularly excited. But we were lucky in having no latch problems. I had no idea what I was doing but Eli did somehow. I wonder if Ben will ...every baby is different.

    But the experience is one I'll treasure. I was a little sad when he stopped breastfeeding but mostly relieved. A little over a year was more than enough for me because of the teeth and the wiggling and the wandering hands! The heft of them as they get so big! But oh when they are so little and new it's so magical.

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  8. Thanks for your fabulous comment. It sounds like Pip and Eli have some traits in common! I shall read with interest to see how you / Eli get on when Ben comes along - and hopefully take away some tips too!

    I'm a big breastfeeding fan. I think it's magical.

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