*This is a long post about breastfeeding. You have been warned.*
Just before Caleb was born I read an article about the hardships of having your last baby. The part that struck me the most was the author explaining the anxiety she felt each time she held her infant baby while he slept. She would get anxious fearing that it would be the last time she would ever hold him all curled up next to her in the tiny ball that infants have a way of curling into.
I was 9 months pregnant when I read that. Imagine the waterworks that flowed forth.
With each milestone that Caleb comes through, I remember that it’s the last time I will watch one of my own children develop in such a way. It’s bittersweet, to say the least.
In this article, the author also talked about the sadness she felt when she thought about weening her baby from nursing. At the time I thought, “not me.” I nursed all three of my kids because it worked for us, not because I’m some breastfeeding advocate. Experts and formula manufacturers have concluded that it is definitely the best way to go, but it’s not the only way. When each of my children was born I hoped they would nurse. But it was mostly because I didn’t want to spend the money on formula and I knew it helped most women lose the baby weight faster. So you can see, pretty selfish motives.
I nursed and supplemented Anna for 8 months. Bennett went 10 months but he nursed A LOT! I didn’t set a goal beyond 6 weeks and each of them just kind of finished when they finished. I didn’t make a decision, it just sort of happened. When Caleb made it to 8 months and then 10, I was excited but still looking forward to the day that I could burn my nursing bras and other nursing things.
I admire the selfless mommas out there who feel a deep connection with their babies while they nurse. Who love every minute of it. But it’s not like that for all of us. Every time I craved a glass of milk or a pb&j and had to get passed it because Caleb couldn’t tolerate it, I resented him just a teeny tiny bit. Every time I HAD to get up with him in the middle of the night to feed him because Drew wasn’t lactating, I resented Caleb and Drew just a tiny bit. Every time I wanted a second beer or an afternoon cup of coffee – I looked forward to the day I would quit nursing. And allergy season with no Benadryl – nursing had it’s downside.
I just didn’t ever love it.
But then Caleb neared his first birthday. I was in no way opposed to nursing him beyond that but I started to be a little concerned with his lack of interest in table food. He’d happily eat a pouch or cracker but he pretty much just wanted to nurse. I know women who think that would be awesome but I’m not one of them, and my family isn’t one of those families.
So I started investing in sippy cups and stressing over what kind of milk he would drink. Pumping and I don’t get along so continuing to pump wasn’t really an option (although I’m still pumping). He doesn’t tolerate dairy – so no cow’s milk. And he got sick every time I ate peanut butter, so I wasn’t sure almond milk would work (it does). Anxiety was setting in.
And then it happened. The Monday after his first birthday, he bit me. And I yelped because, well, he bit me. He cried so hard and I was broken. Then that night, at about 2AM, he bit me again. I firmly said, “no,” and he just cried and cried. And he clutched me and sobbed. And I sobbed with him. And I’m crying now recalling it.
For 4 days I tried to keep nursing but he wouldn’t. He would go to latch and then clamp his mouth shut and cry. And he would hold on tight and twirl my hair and just cry. And I would cry. And he would look at me like I hurt his feelings. Like I told him he was a bad kid.
Here’s what would equate it to: a bad breakup. He hurt me and I reacted poorly. I could forgive him for what he did, but he just couldn’t get over the way I handled it. And so we broke up even though neither of us wanted to. Even though neither of us were ready.
Can you relate to that heartache?
It hit me like a train that I didn’t see coming.
I knew we were near the end. I had started taking steps to begin the end. But that’s not how I wanted it to go.
It took Caleb almost 4 days to accept it. To move on to a bottle and table food. He’s still not doing awesome at the food part, but he’s drinking from a bottle OK. Anna and Bennett neither one took a bottle after their first birthday but this is different.
I still might burn my nursing bras. But I think I’ll take all of my nursing tanks and sew them into a quilt that I can keep forever as a memory (joking).
As much as I wasn’t in love with nursing, when I reflect back I can at least acknowledge how amazing it is. God created our bodies to sustain a human life. And I did that. Damnit. I did that for almost 3 years.
I’m sad that it’s over. I’m mostly sad how it ended. But my heart is so full of joy that it happened (how’s that for cliche?)