Me and my baby

Weaned. Finally.

Me and my baby

Hi, friends. I have big news: the weaning battle is over. And the boobies are victorious!

I have been breastfeeding for almost 25 months but who’s counting? Certainly not the beneficiary of this wonderful thing called extended breastfeeding. Did I imagine him still wanting the breast at 25 months? Honestly, no. I assumed he’d shift his focus to food (he eats a lot), toy trains or books rather than boobs. An attempt to wean him off a few days before he turned 2 years old last October was unsuccessful. I turned ‘cold turkey’, very soft with tough love.

I stopped the whole weaning business and resigned to the fact that he might nurse until I turn him over to his kindergarten teacher. That. bad.

One day in November when I was contemplating on ways to wean him while daydreaming of long, restful night’s sleep, uninterrupted, and saying goodbye to nursing bras and breastfeeding covers, I got an invitation to travel to Turkey.

I wanted to wean to be able to take care of myself more and spend more time with my other child who feels left behind when I am pinned to the bed by the nursing toddler on my limited time home.

I knew it was the universe telling me to let go, giving me a chance to finally wean my (big, grown up) baby. We are talking about a ‘baby’ who is big enough to eat or drink by himself, put slippers on, operate an iPad like a boss and strong enough to lift my shirt off when he wants to!

breastfeeding 25 months

Three days and three nights in far away Turkey…it sounded so exciting but at the same time, scary. When you’re a mom, you can’t really go away without leaving your heart home. It was a hard decision, but backed up by my husband (“you’ve done so much, it’s time you take a break”) and my son’s carer who helped Benjamin cope up with the sleepless nights looking for the human pacifier.

I flew to Istanbul but my mind and my heart was left in Dubai. Benjamin was holding it close – I have not slept well while I was there and constantly thought of him.

But the time I came back, he was running into my arms but for a change, did not yank my shirt, demanding to nurse. I felt so happy as well as emotional – this is it. We’re done! He walks across the room busy with a toy train or a book even if I’m there…it feels weird he’s not climbing up to me in the sofa to nurse, especially if I think that he is my last baby and I’m not going to breastfeed again.

But, I am finally free.

The night after I came back from Turkey, I had a full 8 hours of sleep last night. And why it’s worth a mention? Because this has not happened for more than 2 years!

I can’t believe this wonderful time has come for us. TWENTY FIVE MONTHS – I think that in this age, it’s a long time and I have done my service well. I loved breastfeeding, every moment of it – I love how he looks up at me, I love the warmth, the special mother and child bond so now he’s off it, I kind of miss breastfeeding more than I ever thought that I would.

But then, I am also very happy to have my body back to myself.


What not to say to a mom breastfeeding a toddler


Nursing older children is a very touchy subject, even among moms who breastfeed their infants. My son will turn 2 soon and still breastfeeding…because I recently gave up weaning him – unless I come up with a scheme to do it the easier way that doesn’t involve rubbing chili on my nipples (someone actually suggested this barbaric method!).

So my “Operation: weaning”? Benjamin is winning.

You may have heard from your pediatrician that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers nurse their babies for at least the first year of life. However, the UNICEF organization recommends that babies nurse for at least the first 2 years of life and the World Health Organization recommends that mothers nurse their children for at least the first 3 years of life.

Dr. Sears has a lot of good things to say about extended breastfeeding as well.

Given those information and my son’s reaction towards my attempt to wean him, I have decided to continue to breastfeed him (indefinitely, for now). And I get comments whenever people see my toddler’s feet dangling off the breastfeeding cover (he has grown too big to breastfeed discreetly) when I nurse outside.

In case you’re tempted to speak out to a mom nursing a big baby (toddler!), here are my top things NOT to say:

1. “Why are you still breastfeeding?”
Because I can and he still needs it. He is not ready to be off it. I can’t do tough love. End of story.

2. “But he already has teeth!”
Yes, thank you for the concern but when the biting happens remember that he is biting my nipple not yours, so can you go away now and go back to watching your favorite soap opera.

For the record, he cannot bite and feed at the same time. There are times when he bites and it hurts but it’s not like he’s biting all the frakking time.

3. “When are you going to wean?”
When we’re good and ready, thankyouverymuch. I didn’t have an “end date” when I started nursing my newborn. I don’t think most moms do. I thought he’d self-wean.

Obviously, I am not always right. extended breasfeeding

4. “Does he ever eat solid food?”
No, he only relies on my milk and would starve himself the whole day waiting for me to come home from work.

Present him with solid food and he will play choo choo train with it and not eat it.


Benjamin has been feeding himself since he learned how to pincer pickup food off his plate at 6 months.

He is a complete foodie and doesn’t rely on breastmilk as his main source of nutrition. It’s only a supplement and mostly, for comfort.

5. “That’s gross.”
Uhm, why? I see breastfeeding, whether an infant or a toddler as the most natural thing a mother can do. All mammals that roam the Earth do it. I don’t see it as gross and if you see it as gross, it’s your problem not mine.

Ah, the tender issue of breastfeeding – it’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. We moms get judged if we formula feed our babies and still we get judged if we breastfeed them until they are big enough to run around and have the power to lift mom’s shirt on their own.

From the Babycenter website,

Nursing beyond the first year (also known as extended breastfeeding) is normal, healthy, and common in many countries. However, some Western societies, with their emphasis on independence and self-sufficiency, take a dim view of the practice. So, depending on where you live, long-term breastfeeding may mean putting up with comments and disapproving stares from friends, family, and strangers.

We all have varying of enthusiasm for extended breastfeeding, but we should agree on one thing: ultimately the only thing that matters is that mother and child are both happy. And if they want to continue, nobody should try to stop them.

Live and let live. My body, my choice. My boob, not yours.

Thank you. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Top photo credit

Why I stopped weaning my child

ben toddler

In a few days, it will be 24 months since I started breastfeeding my son. I’m proud of this feat and I’m happy to provide my child with brain-building, immune and nervous system-boosting, dental-health guarding breastmilk.

But you see, 24 months is already a long time and surely a night of uninterrupted sleep is not too much to ask at this point, no? We co-sleep with a toddler bed attached to ours and he crawls in to feed, usually 2-3 times at night when he’s rustled by either thirst, nightmares or just for comfort.  He can’t sleep without nursing too, if that’s worth a mention.

When he lifts my shirt at night, I am just too tired to stop him and just give up, like saying, “Ok, go on, help yourself!”

Mind you, during day time, I can distract him from constantly climbing up to me to feed. He eats well and is thriving ok without breastmilk, especially when I am at work. But it’s at night when he becomes unstoppable.

Ben eating

During my 4 days of off for the Islamic holiday we had here, I prepared for Operation: Weaning. Me against the toddler! I thought I am prepared for the battle but it involved a lot of crying and tantrums and I went soft. This breastmilk addict child of mine is no way giving up his stash. But what is most difficult is that he kind of developed a trauma – the idea of saying goodbye to the boobies resonated to him like he was saying goodbye to mom. Like it’s not only the boobs that will be gone but the whole mom thing.

And of course he didn’t like it.

He became very clingy, wouldn’t go to his nanny when I am around. It became difficult for me to go to work because he would chase me to the door and let out a cry that will break your heart. And yes, I now take a bath at home with him sitting at the corner of the bathroom, playing with his toy car and constantly peeking if I am still in the shower or if I disappeared into thin air. These past few days, I cannot even sit down to eat properly without Benjamin clinging to me like a baby chimpanzee.

I say, enough.


So for now, I give up on weaning my child off the boob business. And it’s ok. I’d give him a little more time. We will go slow (but hopefully not until he’s going to kindergarten!). Cue that Time magazine controversial cover on extended breastfeeding.

Are you a breastfeeding mom? Do you have (successful) weaning tactics to share?

Got milk?

I disappear from my work desk every 2-3 hours or so, depending on the weight and cup size of my bra. If it goes up to E,  which FYI means Enormous, that’s the time I need to scuttle to my hiding place and pump it out to protect my (meager) supply.

Due to baby boy’s feeding demand and innate strong appetite, my milk supply is in jeopardy. I need to eat more. I need to drink at least 2 liters of water + other liquids to produce milk. I need rest, sleep as much as possible…as if that is possible with baby, one other kid, a husband, a home to tend to plus a full time work six days a week!


Truth is, I am still breastfeeding and holding on to it (plan to hold onto it) as long as I can. Baby Ben is healthy, gaining weight despite my fear that my breastmilk might not be enough – these things can be tricky since we can’t see how much is exactly going into the baby’s system.

Thankfully, everything is well and we do not have to resort to formula. I do not want to go that route and neither does the babyboo too.

Here’s a shot of the healthy, happy boy to show you everything is just alright.

Before I forget – had to share something: if you’re a breastfeeding mom wanting to increase milk supply, I found that Fenugreek supplement helped a lot! Research has shown that it can increase milk supply up to 900 percent! The oil contained in fenugreek seeds is believed to play a role in boosting milk supply.

You can buy Fenugreek supplement in capsules at health stores.

The downside is that you might smell like maple syrup and that your burp would taste somewhat like celery! Actually, I don’t consider the maple smell a ‘downside’ because instead of getting stinky when I sweat, I smell like pancakes!

Breastfeeding issues after going back to work

I pack my bags at least a week before I travel. I never cram during exam periods. As much as I can, I want to be ready, always one step ahead. Imagine how I must be feeling when there is no expressed breastmilk I could leave for my baby as I return to work!

Ideally, my breastfeeding plan was to express milk, put in storage bags, put in the fridge or freezer then have the caretaker thaw/heat it and give to baby while I am away. I imagined bags of milk enough to last for at least 2-3 days of feeding.

But that is the ideal. Our reality is different.

Right now, there are no storage bags with breastmilk in our fridge. I express/pump just enough milk for his daily feeding. There’s no extra! Sometimes, I frantically pump at lunch time so he can have his feeding in the afternoon. It’s like only starting to review minutes before the big exam. I hate the pressure. I plan to wake up at 2 or 3 am to pump but realize, I do not have enough milk to pump. Benjamin has taken it all. Now that we’re separated during the day, he compensates by feeding longer at night, both for hunger and need to feel close to mom. The moment he releases his latch, hardly there’s any more milk left.

I thought this was going to be easy, like it was with Pristine. I was able to continue breastfeeding her even after going back to work. She was exclusively breastfed for 22 months.

But what I forgot was, I was separated from Pristine when she has passed her sixth month while I am back to working again and Benjamin is just three months. Pristine was already introduced to solid foods and could take fruit juices and water. She was ok with feeding only during my lunch break but Benjamin solely relies on breastmilk. He needs to feed twice in the morning before I go home and be reunited with him on my lunch break and also twice in the afternoon.

I need 4 bags of milk everyday. FOUR.

After Benjamin feeds, I can hardly manage one bag with 50 ml of milk. The frustration! My milk supply has greatly decreased after going back to work mostly because of stress, fatigue and God knows what else?

I’m at my wit’s end because I do not want to give formula milk!

The first days are always the hardest

Yesterday’s back to work thing was ok. No one jumped in to tell me, “hey, I thought you were away to give birth, how come you still look pregnant?” Hah. The joys of having an all male colleague in the office. There were no nasty comments to welcome me back, only a huge amount of paperwork.

But my work colleagues were kind and understanding enough seeing my anxiety that they told me I can go home early and they wouldn’t tell the boss…

As expected, Benjamin was hysterically crying for so long. He wouldn’t give it up, looking for the real thing. I am so thankful his caretaker never gave up on him and was able to manage a smile (of relief) when I went home during my lunch break! Baby Ben was like a lost puppy who finally found his mother when he saw me. I was totally like a mother dog who found the lost pup too. I couldn’t take him off me even if I needed to so I can eat my lunch. He gave me the most adorable smiles and coos after I fed him.

We took a lot of photos  (he loves seeing himself in the phone camera) – all of which Benjamin looks scared. And clingy. But at least he was calm and I could tell, so happy.

I really really wish I didn’t have to go back to work in the afternoon.

Back to work

Hello everyone. I am back to work today after a total of 100 days of maternity leave, I am back as a working mom – meaning, I have double work now. I am well but not too enthusiastic to drive to work this morning and hating the fact that nothing from my closet fits me properly (the maternity pants are too loose and the pre-pregnancy clothes are still too tight) but otherwise, I am ok health-wise.

I don’t want my maternity leave to end. I am in the state called ” I’m covered in drool and I like it” plus who would ever want to come out of the uber awesome stretchy yoga pants?

Seriously, I am terribly missing Benjamin and wondering what he must be feeling right now. I was too afraid to call home and ask my husband if baby Ben is crying. Afraid he’ll say yes, afraid I might hear those familiar screams violently refusing the bottle. I sent him a message asking if the baby is ok and he replied, “yes, he is ok”. I feel he was just trying hard not to make me too anxious.

But I am still anxious.

Benjamin still doesn’t suck the plastic nipples well. He still nibbles it and cries while doing so. Everyone says, “oh, he’ll eventually suck when he’s hungry!” (it hurts every time I get that remark – which mostly come from my husband). In short, we are not ready. It’s like going into battle unprepared. He doesn’t latch on the plastic teats even if he is hungry. His caretaker uses the medicine dropper!

Pristine had been worried of the whole mommy-going-back-to-work-what-will-happen-to-the-baby thing that she has volunteered to bottle train him.

At least it’s already Wednesday today. Baby Ben would only have to ‘suffer’ today and tomorrow then I’m off on Friday and will be having a bonus off on Saturday too (Islamic holiday). I hope this gets easier everyday, for both of us, mostly, for him.

I am typing this at work, my mind and my heart left at home.

Bottle training update

I am supposed to go back to work on Saturday this week, 21st of January but I asked my boss for mercy an extension. We are not ready since I still have a few days of leave credits, I decided to max it out. My leave has been extended until the end of this month.

The baby is still, yet to accept bottle feeding. *Insert a huge sigh that echoes from planet to planet here.*

I’ve been pumping my own milk, store it in little breastmilk storage bags to use to practice him. It’s frozen, thawed and mildly heated and put in bottle. The plastic silicon teat is shaped like a real nipple, the milk inside the bottle is familiar as it’s my own so what could go wrong? Apparently, our baby boy knows what fake boob is. I bet he will never marry someone with silicon implants when he grows up!

He screams bloody murder the moment the plastic nipple touches his mouth! So many bags of pumped breastmilk is wasted because it can’t be refrozen or reheated or stored again for future use.

On top of this all, we actually have Plan B – that I bring him and a nanny to my friend’s house near where I work and every time he needs to nurse, I’ll just disappear from my work desk. Sounds good? Actually no. I don’t prefer Plan B because that would mean bringing a small baby in the car while negotiating Dubai’s early morning rush, traffic and dangerous driving of some motorists. Then I have to drive him home again in the evening. Too risky.

So, we are only left with the option for him to take the bottle. I will be going home at lunch time and request for a shorter work time so I can go home earlier than usual. But then, he still needs to feed 2-3 times when I am not home. How will he cope? Will he not starve?

Just thinking about this while the days pass by so quickly makes my head spin. My poor baby.

of babies and plastic teats

In two weeks, I am scheduled to go back to work. My twelve glorious weeks of maternity leave is coming to an end and I am here, frightened and frantic of what would happen to my baby and our usual routine. Breastfeeding routine, that is.

You see, I’ve been breastfeeding baby Ben exclusively since he was born. He has only taken formula milk on his first few days at the hospital when he was confined in the NICU and I was bedridden because of my surgery and can’t breastfeed him. He hates it – he hates the bottle, the plastic nipple and the fake milk. I can’t blame him, everything about formula feeding is unnatural and he knows he has a better option. Aren’t babies smart?

From when he was two days up to now, he has only taken breastmilk. No formula milk, no bottles. But now that I have to go back to work (I wish I could stay until he turns six months old), he needs to take the bottle! I am expressing my milk and practicing feeding it to him via a bottle.


He gets cross and give me ‘the look’:

We’ve tried so many ways and so many bottles and plastic teats. He refused them all. He doesn’t know how to suck and would just nibble and moan, groan, scream!

Then as the battle goes on, he gives me ‘the fist’:

My blog friend Robin of Around the Island who is a lactation consultant has helped me so much by giving me advices on how to do this bottle training right. For one, I made a terrible mistake of doing the bottle training myself. Babies are scarily smart that according to the popular baby and parenting site Baby Center, babies can sense the smell and presence of their mom from up to 20 feet away. And so they won’t give in to the bottle if mom is there!

What more if it’s the mom giving him the fake goods when he’s a few centimeters away from the real thing? Hello mom, who are you kidding!?

So, tomorrow’s another day for us. Robin has assured me we will just be fine. I want to believe her and hope we’ll get this sorted before the big day.