Thoughts on toddler breastfeeding and my last baby
What I’m about to write, you may not fully understand until you are a mom yourself. But my heart needs to express this before I forget. Because tonight is our last nursing session. And tomorrow you will not be happy with me, and most likely not for a few days after… But it’s time.
This is our last breastfeeding session. I’m ready. I think. I’m sure you are not. I’m also sure you’d be perfectly happy to nurse forever. But that’s okay. We’ll still have many snuggle sessions instead. The way you sign “milk please” and smile, then nod yes, while pulling on my shirt is enough to tell me you are still breast feeding for comfort. But I know we’re ready and can do this together.
You, my girl, are an amazing gift from God.
Your name means God is gracious. You have been been the blessing that we didn’t think we’d have. Your smile is contagious. And your curls melt my heart. You are extremely smart. You already have a larger vocabulary than I’m prepared for!
I prayed for nearly 3 years for you. I prayed daily for a healthy baby while I was pregnant with you. And I prayed that I would be able to nurse you well.
Your sister, who was also a miracle baby we prayed long for, had to wean before I wanted because I was pregnant with your brother. And when we lost him, I felt cheated. No baby. No baby to nurse. No idea how to deal with milk that came in even though I was told it was too early in the pregnancy to get milk. They were wrong.
Every day was an emotional workday waiting for your arrival. I was staying so strong. Even through the scares you gave me in the last few weeks. And the false labor. Three times! I’ve been through labor five other times. I should know better right? The thing is I was both excited and scared for your arrival. You made it here safely. And perfect. And you nursed well! For a very long time. And my milk was in by the next day.
Just about the time I finally felt I could breathe, and really grasp that you were here, and I could truly bond with you, I began having issues while nursing. Every time you’d latch on, I would start feeling a panic attack come on along with the urge to vomit. It took all I had not to throw up on you. I battled anxiety and panic attacks that were so bad sometimes I didn’t want to leave the house. I ignored the the obvious postpartum blues that weren’t going away.
You wanted to nurse often. And for long periods of time. You cluster fed every night for hours, and I sat for so long I developed a cyst near my tailbone. The constant pain from your strong latch and my never-ending cramping was shocking. I had mastitis twice. And yet I kept going. I wanted to give you the best of me I could.
Over the course of the first year, I learned to relax and find ways to bond with you. I felt like a first-time mom again and I figured out what the cues you gave meant.
When you quit sleeping through the night, I had no idea a few rough nights would turn us into a co-sleeping family. (Which I am not an advocate of.) I didn’t know I would have to practice duck and cover in my own bed when you had long restless nights that often resulted in your dad or I getting head-butted. Hard. I never truly understood the meaning of my personal space being invaded until then.
The thing is, I learned so much more. I learned that some babies — you, for example — need more skin-to-skin personal touch. I learned that I needed you as much as you needed me. I learned a new level of patience.
I learned that some babies just aren’t ready to wean right around their first birthday. While I’m fully aware that you could quite possibly be my last baby, I can say that at 18 months I have no regrets nursing you this long. I didn’t want to nurse past 6 months. And then 12 months.
But here we are. And I’m glad we made it. Nursing you has been the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time. But it has been a journey I’m glad we took together. And you have brought so much joy and healing to my life.
Featured photo credit: Flickr.com
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