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One of the hardest pills to swallow is having no choice

I’m lucky. I’ve been saying that an awful lot recently, which I guess people might find strange considering my current circumstances.

I feel lucky because with my three boys I chose to breastfeed. It came naturally and was easy for me to do. I’m aware this is not the case for everyone and some choose not to breastfeed at all - there is no judgement here. As mummas we’ve got to do what’s right for us, and only we know that.

I chose to breastfeed for many reasons. Diabetes runs in my family, and breastfeeding appears to significantly lower the chances of developing this, as well as obesity, common allergies and a host of other illnesses, including cancer! It also protects the baby with antibodies to fight off colds and infections. For me, there is nothing more natural and safe than breastfeeding, the attachment and bond it formed for all three of my children was so special, I really truly adored that part.

I’d planned to just carry on feeding Remy, I had made a loose plan in my head after reading the recent World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines which suggest two as the recommended age to now feed until.

To have that choice taken away from me has been one of the hardest pills to swallow, and it feels like I’m swallowing an awful lot of pills right now.

When I came home after my first treatment, I had to sleep in our spare room. I’ve been co-sleeping with Remy since he was born, but I felt it would have been cruel to have slept with him with engorged boobs and I definitely can’t feed him anymore after being pumped full of chemo and immunotherapy drugs. Thankfully, weaning him off my milk wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, however, the engorgement was awful… I had forgotten that feeling.

Prior to my chemo Remy woke many times in the night for a feed, it all just felt very natural and easy to keep going. On our first night going cold turkey, he slept ok, that was a relief. Especially as I wasn’t feeling very well post-treatment.

The nights were much easier than the days’. The waking hours have been so much trickier. In the days post-chemo I felt tired and nauseous, just like a very bad hangover! Remy squealed a lot and climbed all over me for what felt like hours a day. Added to this, he didn’t really understand how to drink from a bottle. I wondered whether he would ever start to accept this new way of feeding…

I’m thankful to say that now, he has taken to it well and drinks his milk without question.

If anyone would like any tips for handling this transition from breast to bottle or if you have stories to share, I’d love to talk about it. If you are anything like me. I google a lot, which is both helpful and deeply unhelpful - it’s vast and I end up going down rabbit holes and getting very confused.

I started writing this blog with a view that I feel lucky, and I really do. I found a solution for feeding my children that worked so well for us. Remy is now 15-months and so, we had a really good ride. He’s a healthy and content little boy who loves his cuddles.

Giving up breastfeeding feels like such a huge thing for me at the moment. The choice is a fundamental part of this. It’s been taken away from Remy and me and it feels cruel. Letting go of something we both love, at a time we are all trying to make sense of my cancer diagnosis. It was one beautiful thing that felt normal, our calm in amongst the raging storm.

I’m so thankful to have given him, and me for that matter, 14-months of closeness and connection. He’s such a happy little baby and I’m sure this start to life is part of why he’s always got a beautiful smile on his face. I hope he never loses it, not even for a moment, it melts my heart every. Single. Time.

Love Amber xx

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