I still remember having one epiphany after the next while reading “So that’s what they’re for,” the book about breastfeeding my sister lent me when I expressed my desire to nurse. At the time, I was more worried about nursing my firstborn than the process of delivery. That worry I had nearly eight years ago when pregnant with my first child — that I wouldn’t like or be able to nurse — wound up being something I didn’t need to fret about at all. Here I am, weaning my youngest who is just shy of 18 months, feeling very proud of the success I’ve had nursing him and my older two children. As I wean my last baby, here are four thoughts on nursing that come to mind.
I’m so glad I have been able to breastfeed
Nursing doesn’t come easy for every mama and baby – I get that! I’ve never taken for granted the fact that my body made enough milk to nourish my babies and that I didn’t need extra nipple shields or other help to make nursing happen. While working full time after my first was born cut our stint with nursing shorter than I’d preferred (pumping wasn’t enough to keep my milk supply up), all three babies have latched on immediately after birth and been “good” at nursing. It’s been smooth sailing excluding a clogged milk duct or two and some cracked nipples. When I made the decided to breastfeed my baby, I never would have dreamed I’d nurse my second baby until she was 16 months old. My third baby is still nursing and he’s almost 18 months old. I see that nursing isn’t for everyone for a variety of reasons that only they need to know, and I support those who choose or need to bottle feed. Yet I do feel very fortunate that nursing was simple for me with all three of my babies.
I’ll miss breastfeeding when I’m done
You guys. I’ve spent over THREE years of my life breastfeeding. I’ve nursed my babies all over the Midwest. At the beach, every park near us, every room of the house, in line to see Santa Claus, at school functions, in restaurants, in the car sitting on the side of the road, in the middle of birthday parties, standing up, walking around, half asleep. You name it, if I stepped foot in a place in the last year and a half, my boob was probably out. And I’m cool with that. I’ve gotten so accustomed to nursing in public I don’t even think twice about it. While there have been times it’s been a hassle (the moment a margarita was placed on the table – I saw some judging eyes), I really have enjoyed this bonding time with my baby and agree with this heartfelt letter one mom wrote to her baby on the last night of nursing. My boobs are going to be confused when they actually stay in my bra all day long.
I’m thankful that nursing let me catch some zzzzz’s
Just let me say that I have loved nursing for many, many reasons and one of those is that I didn’t have to get up and head to the kitchen to make bottles at night. It was so glorious to be able to grab the baby and feed him without stepping foot out of my bed (baby #3 slept in a crib and a dock-a-tot in our bed until just a couple of months ago). If I’m up half of the night, you better look out because I am not going to be very nice! I am a person who doesn’t do well on little sleep and need to be somewhat rested so I could function when working from home while (patiently) caring for my bigger kids. Nursing a baby gave me the chance to sleep more than if I had to march to a kitchen and wind up fully awake.
I’m glad nursing forced me to look at what was right in front of my face
I’ve always been a busy body and combine that with the fact that the list of an endless number of things for mom’s to do means there isn’t much sitting… that is, unless it’s time to nurse my baby. Nursing has forced me to slow down and bask in the moment with my baby. It’s let me stare at him, breathe him in, memorize those little features, stroke his hair and cheeks and tell him I love him. I’ll miss this time with him when we are done nursing. Of course I’ll still hug and kiss him and rock him and snuggle him, but fully weaning him is going to be a challenge emotionally.
It really is funny how the days with a newborn seem so busy and make you feel as though you’ll be wandering around in a state of sheer exhaustion forever. But the days really do fly by (don’t blink – I did and my newborn boy turned into a hilarious, goofy, food-hurling toddler). As my twin girls near the time of closing up shop once and for all, I must admit, it’s bittersweet. This special bond I’ve had with my baby — one of the few things that I cling to because nursing makes him still seem like a baby — is coming to an end. While I am ready to get my body back, the end of this era is one that’s hard for me to face.
What were your favorite things about breastfeeding (or bottle feeding) your baby?
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