The funny thing about our breastfeeding journey — mine and Enzo’s — is that, I never was that “into it.” Or so I thought.
Since before Baby E was here, I knew I wanted to breastfeed because the health benefits for baby are wonderful. I’m literally in awe of what a woman’s body is capable of and how mom and baby’s bodies seamlessly work together to provide baby all the needed nutrients and even antibodies to fight infection. It is a miracle. And for the first six months of his life, my 99th percentile child was exclusively fed on breastmilk. Even since beginning solids — and being a very good eater — E has never stopped nursing… both day and night.
I always hoped we would make it to a year before Enzo decided to ween off nursing, or my supply dried up. Then I hoped we would make it to year 2. Now we are 2 years and 4 months in, and I’m being forced to consider stopping nursing because it is taking a physical toll on my body. My chiropractor just told me that he really believes it is time because the neck pain, the shoulder pain, the rib pain, the low back pain… it all seems to be connected to the odd positions I have to get in and hold, in order to nurse my very large 2 year old. When I last checked E is 38″ tall, 33 lbs, and 100% believes he’s a little baby when it comes time to nurse.
Pretty much as soon as E could speak he started saying, “nurse you?” And while he has shifted many of his phrases into more grammatically correct full sentences, that one persists. And I hear it roughly 5294858903489 times a day… I only acquiesce about 1/3 of the time. Haha. But the truth is, as we drove away from the latest chiropractic appointment — an emergency one at that due to the sudden severe pain — I felt a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I never thought my body would be the reason we stopped nursing… at least not in this way. I know when the time does come, I will miss the constant “nurse you?” questions throughout the day and night. I will miss how easily soothed E is when attached to me.
Within minutes of being born in our bathroom in Livermore, CA, as I laid on the floor with baby in my arms, he so quickly and instinctively knew what to do. My doula was so impressed that she took an up-close picture… the perfect mouth formation to start our nursing journey, and to this day he hasn’t stopped. We were the lucky ones. Not too many moms I know of had it that easy. A baby who knew what to do without any trouble latching. I’ve always produced a lot of milk too without having to try… another lucky piece. And to think, it was always something I wanted to do but from a specifically health standpoint… I never considered I would feel this insane bond, I would be who E searches for whenever he doesn’t feel well or has hurt himself… and the tears stop almost instantly, that he would continue asking to nurse through the night even as a toddler and I’d rarely mind the nighttime interruptions, that I would feel this deep — instinctual — ability to nurture, protect, and care for my son just by doing something my body is designed to do, and that his face would light up every single time I got him into position because nursing is truly his favorite thing.
To be clear, not every moment was easy… like all beautiful things in motherhood, there was the rough, not so pretty moments too. Getting bitten, engorged breasts, raw skin, leaking… everywhere, to name a few. But, those were really the smallest of blips in an otherwise lovely experience.
Now as I sit in this space, the knowing that it will come to an end soon (that it has to come to an end soon), I’m so glad I “just wanted to do this for his health,” so glad that I’ve gotten pictures of him nursing at each family photo session as a memento from a cherished time, so glad we’ve had it so “easy.” So many people have told me they could never still be getting so little sleep and nursing a minimum of 4 times per night… but I’ve got to tell you, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. This chapter has been sweeter than I could have ever imagined.
I can’t tell you when we will be done breastfeeding… maybe it will be another month or maybe 5? Maybe I will reduce the times I’m willing to say yes or maybe we will stop cold turkey? I haven’t decided just yet. But, I do know I will be commemorating this time time in a very special way, and I’ll share about that in the future.
Sending so much love to all the mamas out there. We have the best and hardest and most bittersweet job in the whole freakin’ world.