My attempt at writing my end of breastfeeding post...not to be confused with a weaning story. I'm done. Forever. And ever, amen.
As I mentioned before, this post may have no significance for anyone else but me...but I want to not only be able to share my memories, thoughts, and experiences of nursing four children, but to possibly help other mommas or future mommas who may struggle with breastfeeding or not know if it's important to them yet by sharing what it meant to me.
I find it very interesting the varying strong views on breastfeeding, which are often inherited. I know a mother whose family thinks it is just the grossest, out-of-the-question thing to do. This opinion is shared by her entire entended family. Shocking to me. But I'm not going to get into that debate...just sufficieth to say I feel very strongly about the importance of breastfeeding.
With our first born, I tried my darnedest to nurse her. I saw lactation consultants and tried absolutely everything I knew to do as a new mother (which now looking back might not have been enough), but she just didn't want to nurse well. This struggle went on for three months until I finally gave in. I just couldn't fight her every 3-4 hours. I felt guilty and awful for quitting before my "goal" of one year...but I now see that it was for the best.
With my next two babies, I had such a strong resolve to make it work. My second nursed like a champ, as did my third daughter, however my milk dried up when I got pregnant with Bennett, so weaning really didn't happen on my terms...or hers. Still, I was okay with it. I nursed them 15 months and 11 months respectively.
Bennett turned two in June. Knowing he was my last baby, I made a goal to exclusively breastfeed for two years or until he weaned himself. And let me tell ya...this was a challenge...but we did it. Not that I ever thought about weaning early, but we had to seriously work as a team to make it through bouts of intensely awful thrush, being geographically separated several times, etc. I weaned him just before his second birthday...as I was about to go on a trip with my mom and it was the right time.
He was ready and I was sorta ready.
Here are my thoughts on the end of our lactation journey...
Over the past three months since June I haven't thought much about it. I was sad to wean but ready to have my body back to myself....and not have to worry about nursing-friendly attire (have you ever seen a woman hike up a maxi dress to breastfeed?).
But surprisingly now, as I take the time to think about it, it brings tears to my eyes as I mourn the loss of that closeness between us. Anyone who knows me well knows how I feel about Bennett. Not that I love him any more, but just different. He is my boy. And that bond we have made nursing even more significant and touching for me.
The evening that I thought would be our last feeding, I went to put him down and told my husband this was the last time I would nurse him....
But then he really wasn't having it for some reason, so I nixed the decision, as ending on that note just wouldn't do, and stubbornly announced to my husband that the next night would be the "last time".
Obviously Bennett was ready to wean, but I wanted to have that final time etched in my mind. I wanted to hold him and look at his sweet face and rock him...I wanted to make a memory. Even though I had nursed him (as well as his three sisters) countless times, I felt like this was it. If I was ever to remember the sweetness of breastfeeding I had to consciously make that memory then.
And thankfully I did.
The last time I nursed him wasn't too different from the previous night except for him being a bit less distracted. Even though he didn't want to nurse long, I'm so thankful he let me hold and rock him until I was ready to put him down that night. That evening was a culmination of all of my children's breastfeeding experiences and the end of a chapter of my life. I think one of the reasons I never got emotional about weaning my others is because I knew (or at least hoped) there would be a next time...another child.
But he was the last.
The end of my maternal responsibility to nourish my child.
An era coming to a close.
And let me tell ya, I'm pretty sure I was born without the sensitive/emotional part of my heart...so for me to be all misty-eyed right now is pretty huge.
Breastfeeding is hard...with patches of ease and beauty. But for most mommas, it takes some work, whether it's in the newborn stage or when they become mobile. So aside from my weaning story, I'd also like to encourage any of you mommas who need a little pep talk in the BFing department....
If you truly want to breastfeed your child...whether you plan to have children someday, you're an expectant momma, or maybe you've hit that four month curve ball when nursing can get sketchy and you're not sure you can push through it...
Keep On Keeping On.
Take it one feeding at a time. If it doesn't go so well, try adjusting things...use your resources...pump and let your partner have a go. Stick with it.
And you know what?
Know that the love you have for your baby is what is most important. Don't beat yourself up if things don't go right (as I did with Tyler Bree that first time around). Try your best and give it your all, so you can look back on your experience with happy feelings...
And hopefully someday be able to share those thoughts and feelings with your children and their children, as my momma has with me.