When I began, I didn’t think I was going to make it to a month, let alone a year. And now, as I am looking at the end, I can’t believe it’s almost over.
Nursing your baby is one of those things that is highly personal and in some ways, polarizing. But it’s also one of the hardest things about motherhood that very few realize, before they’re smack in the middle of the bewildering task.
Something that we’re told should be completely natural somehow manages to feel completely unnatural.
In those frantic, second-guess filled first days and nights at home with your first, you’re worried about so many things like swaddling and diapering and bathing. But the one that is the most gut-wrenching is the feeding. Because in those early days, babies lose a lot of their birth weight and you’re told how important it is that they feed on a regular schedule.
Only it isn’t quite so simple. You’re both figuring each other and this whole deal out. And it takes time.
The result is that there is a period of hours and maybe even days where your baby may scream in fury and futility while you do everything you can to feed them.
Until you convince yourself you’re starving them and that you’re a horrible failure of a mother. And it’s only day 2.
So yeah, you can see how I was convinced after a week with my first that this whole breastfeeding thing was not meant for me.
Until I talked to a friend and she gave me the sage advice: Just make it to 3 months. Make it to 3 months and then you can choose how long you want to go after that.
Now I’m one of the lucky ones that could make that choice – I have friends that can’t. And so I did. I just looked at that 12 week mark as the goal and just relaxed into it.
And guess what? With time we got the hang of it. It became natural. Until one day about 10 months in, she was ready to be done. And so we were.
With the second I foolishly thought it would be so much easier. Oh how wrong I was. If anything, it was worse. But I remembered those sage words of wisdom and stopped fretting. And now, 14 months later, she’s happily onto her regular milk and grown up food. But we’ve both held onto that last, bedtime feed. Somehow we’ve both needed the calm, the quiet where we can settle into each other and let the world stop at the door.
And I’ve thought about how much I’m going to miss it.
How it transformed from something that I truly hated (and there are very few things that I tie that strong word to), to now something that I will miss and mourn.
So these last nights I linger with her, tucked snuggly against me. I stretch out this last connection with my last baby.
Once I walked around for 9 months with this child a part of my being. Then for another year after she and I were joined by the necessity of feeding and the biology of comfort. Now, that is coming to its natural conclusion, she will be completely capable of existing without me. It’s a tough thing to accept for your last baby. That cuddles will never be as free and flowing as they have been.
But that’s okay. I see the curiosity and courage that is already taking my baby to her next adventures.
So these last couple nights are a gift to savor. For the morning will bring the next chapter.
And we’re finally ready.