Today marks 72 hours post wean. What that means is my little one is laying in my lap right now. I’m giving her extra cuddles to make up for not surrendering my breasts to her, and she’s showing me that she loves me even though I’m not. Breastfeeding is one of the most amazing, peculiar journeys you’ll take as a woman. It starts very bumpy, but that first wet diaper and sweet smile with milk still dripping from their puckered lips makes you feel like a superhero.
I am woman! Hear me roar! Look at me with my marvelous bosom. I am nurturing a tiny human!!
Then your bosom starts to swell in epic proportions as it expands to feed a growing baby and tries to find its rhythm. The pain of engorgement, the leaking nipples with breast milk circle stains on every shirt you own. The realization that you have become attached to your infant almost like a ball and chain, and now your diet is dictated by this tiny vampire/totalitarian dictator. You hear other women speak of babies sleeping through the night, and in your fuzzy, sleep-deprived brain you wonder how that’s even possible for a baby who eats every two hours. All. Night. Long.
But it’s wonderful. In this weird way that totally captivates your entire world for the period of six weeks, a year, and beyond you form this rock solid bond with this blossoming personality you birthed. They depend on you, they love you like no one ever has before, and every time you look down and see them suckling sweetly you want to melt into your own crazy, hormonal sob-fest. I mean, really, is there anything sweeter than a nursing baby?!
Well, I fall into the beyond a year breastfeeder, and somewhere around month 18 for me it becomes a different kind of nursing relationship. Always being a nurse on demand kind of breastfeeder my emerging toddler personalities typically seem to arrive at a place where they want to control the relationship, and the breasts no longer become mine in my daughters’ eyes. My boobs aren’t my boobs; my boobs are theirs. With each child there comes a time where the power struggle becomes real! They desire my breasts to be like a buffet dinner, and even become angry if they’re not constantly available for a little sip here and there. It always comes to a place where it’s no where near as enjoyable. How can it be when the nurser is turning flips while they drink and tugging on your nipple like they’re milking a cow?! The only thing that keeps you going is that nighttime nursing where they sleep so beautifully and peacefully, and you think, ahh. I did this. So sweet.
But when they want another nightcap at 3am? Not quite as sweet. It’s one thing when they need it for nourishment, but quite another when you’re the fleshy pacifier and you know it!
Sounds awful, right? So what’s been my hesitation this time around?
She’s my last baby!
*insert hysterical sobbing
I want my body and my breasts back!
But I’ll never nourish another tiny human from my bosom again!
It’s time to stop!
But I don’t want it to end!
I’m beyond annoyed at this breastfeeding relationship right now!!
I’m absolutely in love with our breastfeeding relationship right now!
It’s probably the most bipolar I’ve felt, since college anyway. Every single time I have pumped a bit off to prevent severe engorgement as I attempt to dry up my milk I look down sadly at that liquid gold flowing so fast into the bottles and want to cry. As I see her stop trying to nurse anymore, after tasting the lemon juice on my nipples one time too many, I want to cry. As I look at her sleeping soundly in bed, without the aid of breastfeeding, and how big she appears, I. Want. To. Cry!
She’s my last baby. My last breastfed baby.
Once it’s done, it’s done. And we’ve gotten 72 hours in; I know I can’t turn back. Deep down I don’t want to. But I do want to cry a little bit.
In the meantime I’m sitting over here with cold cabbage in my bra. I’m soaking in the sweet snuggles from my baby who loves me for more than just my boobies (thank goodness), and I’m trying to remember that this is a good thing we’ve done. We are at the end of a fabulous 19 month journey together where I gave of myself physically to my child, and now we move forward to the other adventures the rest of childhood has to offer. I am blessed.