We had a rough start. I thought nursing would be a breeze. I thought he’d come out, be placed on my chest, and just be ready to start nursing. And then he didn’t. The hours ticked by slowly and I began to worry that it wasn’t going to happen for us. Slowly, it did. The first few weeks were tough. Painful. Tear-filled for both of us. I sat up at night, trying to nurse my baby, trying to stifle the sobs as to not wake my husband. I don’t think I can do this, I would say to myself. During those middle of the night feedings, my husband would reach over and rub my back, as if you try to offer me a little bit of support. My goal was to make it to six months of breastfeeding and, at that point, I was worried that I couldn’t even make it one. I felt like I was failing at the one thing I was supposed to do be able to do naturally– breastfeed my child. Not only was it painful but I felt so alone. I was exhausted– mentally, physically, and emotionally. I put on a good show, making it seem like I had no struggles and that this brand new mom thing was a breeze. Of course, all you moms out there know that it isn’t… and it wasn’t.
Somehow, I managed to power through. After many late night cry sessions, little tubs of Honest Company nipple ointment, and trying all kinds of techniques that I read about online, I made it to the point where the thought of breastfeeding didn’t make me shudder. One month. Six months. And now I’ve passed the one year mark. One year ago me would have attempted to laugh through tearfilled eyes if you told me I would have made it this far.
I am now entering the weaning phase. It is… bittersweet, to say the least. I’m so ready to have my body back to myself. To not worry about pumping before I go to bed every night. To not worry about my boobs exploding because of a missed feeding or pumping session. To maybe actually wear a real bra…? (Ok, that last one might be a lie. Bras are for the birds.) But then there’s the bitter part. I enjoy my short one-on-one hang sessions with my sweet boy. He plays with my hair and sometimes makes silly faces at me while he nurses. He gives me little smiles. I am his main source of comfort and we have this bond that was built on our nursing relationship. Bittersweet.
This process has taught me to find new ways to ensure that I still get that special bonding time. Making sure I read the book he brings to me or sit on the floor and play with blocks when he tugs on me. These are all things I did before, of course, but now with a new intention. I’ve learned that it’s ok (and probably even normal) to “mourn” this season of life coming to an end. Most of all, I see all the opportunities we have to enhance our mother-son bond.
Even with our breastfeeding journey coming to and end, there really hasn’t been a chance to miss it. I’m finding is as one adventure ends, another one begins. My son is taking steps, starting to try walking. He’s showing his all boy side by climbing everything and falling a little bit, too. He’s responding to yes and no questions by shaking his head or giving a little “uh huh”, which is an amazing, super helpful thing.
So, though we’re slowly approaching the end of our breastfeeding journey, there is so much more to look forward to, and I can’t wait to find out what this new road has in store for us.