Hedgehog is fourteen months old and still taking the boob, just once a day in the mornings. It’s like her morning latte. She wakes up like clockwork at five thirty, Mr M&H brings her into our bed and she settles down next to my body, rolling towards me to assume the boob position. Any delay in having access to the boob at this point results in wild cries and instant tears. I continue dozing half in and out of dream land, enjoying cradling the little soft creature in my arms. Once she is done with the boob she rolls over to Mr M&H, kicks her legs over the top of the duvet, rolls over, sits up, and generally makes it known that she wishes the day to start.
All this is fine, for now, but she has six teeth and they are getting longer. She is starting to chafe. I have spent the last three years living in nursing bras. That’s three years (with the exception of a six month gap in the middle) operating as a functional, twenty four hour, all you can eat restaurant. The nursing bras are now stretched, bobbly and grey. Last month, with my first pay cheque in a year, I went out and bought some fancy new ‘normal’ bras, with lace and bows and everything. It feels fantastic, to have my boobs back.
It also feels great to have my complete wardrobe back, with no limitations. Dresses, jumpsuits, dungarees, in fact anything that is all in one, is back in. I’ve missed them. For three years it’s been nothing but trousers and a loose top that is easy to get into. When I was pregnant I expected the maternity wardrobe, but I didn’t even think about the post-partum wardrobe or the breast feeding wardrobe that was to follow.
In fact, body image and style in general has changed a lot since having children. Now my clothes have to work with doing 101 little domestic tasks, pushing a buggy round the block and getting food / paint down me on a daily basis. Hair is tied back simply to be out of the way and shoes are flat because I can’t be doing with walking in heels on top of pushing a buggy. Looking hot for anyone who might be watching is not the point anymore. But I’m happy to report that, rather than disappear, my style has just moved on, and I suppose my hotness has too.
The problem is, there is so much help out there in getting breast feeding started, but no-one tells you how to stop. I replaced the bed time feeds with rocking and lullabies, but the morning feed is like the final umbilical cord, the last physical link which is about to be severed. It’s a confusing time. On the one hand, this may be the last baby I have for a while and I’ve enjoyed feeding her. It’s been a big part of our relationship. Part of me is sad that this will come to an end. On the other hand, I really do want my boobs back now.
The feeding of Mole came to an end something like this: one morning, at around fourteen months old, she just wasn’t that fussed anymore. She lay next to me and glanced at what was on offer with a ‘take it or leave it’ sort of look, which I took as my cue to leave it. Because she had instigated this, it did not feel like a wrench, more like a natural progression.
I’m hoping Hedgehog will follow suit, but so far she continues to come into bed at ungodly hours of the morning for a nibble. She quite openly looks for my boobs in public too, like when she stands on my lap and shoves her head down my top, right in the middle of Morrisons, at the checkout.
But she has her thumb (which she sucks most of the time), and actual food and drink to distract her, plus everything else that she is doing right now; furniture walking, emptying the kitchen cupboards, laughing at Mole and chasing the dog. The big wide world is opening up to her, and the boob has done its job of launching her into it.