over the years that huck + i have nursed i've taken a lot of quick photos to document it. i know that may seem weird, but i wanted a visual reminder of what a wonderful blessing nursing was in my life. i'd like to share a few of the more "subtle" of them here with you in this post. because i am not at all squeamish about nursing boobs, and i hope that none of you are, either. :)three years ago, on a wednesday in mid february, i found out i was pregnant.
almost exactly three years to the day later, one week ago, i nursed that baby to sleep for the very last time.
he was ready.
sigh. i was not.
i really, really like nursing. and i did not want to wean. though i suppose two and a half is a pretty decent time to stop, if you have to. i mean, i did okay. the world health organization can come and pat me on the back. i did it! top honors! flying colors! it's not like i've been cheated for time.
so why has this been so hard for me?
now it is just me in here. a free woman! or so they say. i am neither creating a baby nor keeping one alive. my body is all mine now, and the food i eat and the calories i expend are just for me, nobody else. these boobs are closed for the season. recreational purposes only. send this cow out to pasture, her milking days are over.
oh, the heartbreak.
nursing this baby has been, in the thirty years i've been alive, my favorite thing i've ever done. not the best, not the most impressive--i mean, come on i do have ambitions outside of being a mother (and i'm sure potty training will feel like quite the braggable feat)--but my very most, most most favorite, and such an honor. i feel so blessed to have had these years as a nursing mother. i am so horribly sad to see it end.
a part of me is in mourning. a part of me is gone.
when i think about our last nurse together, in the quiet of his dark bedroom while i stroked his hair and hummed our favorite song, still an entire week later, it makes me want to cry.
i wasn't ready. i wasn't ready.
i wasn't ready. i wasn't ready.
i would have happily nursed indefinitely till huck self-weaned. at three? at five? it wouldn't have mattered, i'd have been down for it. huge fan of extended breastfeeding right here. had it not been for this damn body of mine, and the fact that getting pregnant might take some real big guns this time around, i'd happily have nursed for forever.
my boobs really love nursing, too. it's been a week now, and my boobs are still ready to go. all the time. and oh the engorgement! it's awful. every night my boobs tell me they want a baby to nurse, and every night i have to tell them, "i know, boobs. me too. but guess what, boobs. there are no babies in this house to nurse anymore."
because that huck, he's all big boy now. since we stopped nursing, he has thrived. he was ready. i'm proud of myself for seeing the signs and letting it happen, considering how hard i knew it would be on me. turns out, i am a really good mom after all. who'd have thought? ;)
why do i miss it so? isn't this backwards? shouldn't i be so happy that it's over? aren't most women? i'd like to think this is my biological clock talking, whispering bitter sweet encouragements. i'm hoping my spirit is trying to tell me that i'm not supposed to be finished with nursing yet.
fact is, whether or not i've had my cycle back since seven weeks post partum (which was really really rude), and whether or not one can get pregnant while nursing (one can, doctors back me up on this), it's going to be best for me in the long run if we send those drugs in at a blank slate. my body deserves a little break in the action before we take the plunge. weaning is going to be the right thing for me, too.
and therein lies the trick. i am doing this for another baby. a baby i believe is coming . . . soon? a hopefully-soon baby. i am stopping out of faith that in stopping there will come another beginning. i'm doing this so that she can come home to us. this is all for her. (or him, you know how these things work, 50/50 right?)
but it's been so hard for me to remember that, somehow. especially when i'm sitting here missing the nursing and feeling sort of a little sorry for myself.
i know that a big part of why i loved nursing so much was because it came so easily to us. not to brag, i mean, i'm really horrible at getting pregnant, but i do a damn fine job at fattening a baby up once he gets here. it's rare to nurse a two-and-a-half-year-old, but it's rarer still to have any supply to speak of for that two-and-a-half-year-old. and right now i could nurse an entire preschool of two-and-a-half-year-olds. and believe me, i would. (hide your preschoolers! ;)
here's an example of what excellent boobs i have: i started leaking colostrum at 16 weeks. sixteen weeks! most women don't even leak at all, or if they do it isn't until around 32 weeks. nope, 16. my boobs didn't even need a baby to get them going! talk about efficient!
when my milk let down when huck was three days old i went from an A cup to a double G. i didn't think that was a thing either. you should have seen them!
(if i weren't trying to wean for fertility purposes, i'd love to donate my milk to a NICU or something. or shoot, the black market! i mean we are talking heavy duty supply over here, STILL. ouch.)
so, weaning. should we talk about this? it turns out we women are our own worst enemies and we don't talk about this stuff with each other nearly often enough and so i'm going to talk about it. because weaning su-u-ucks.
weaning feels like the first trimester of pregnancy all over again. we're talking mood swings. mood mother effing SWINGS. and engorgement! oh holy boobs of fire. at time of typing i am keeping an eye on two specific ducts on my left side, which are clogging as we speak! my left boob, of course. not surprisingly because she was the most overeager of the two when huck was little and i was dealing with crazy oversupply. (i used to jokingly call them fraulein maria and the reverend mother, on account of nursing on the reverend mother was like climbing every freaking mountain every freaking time. the reverend mother is a firehose.) we'd been down to one feeding a day just before bedtime for two months already--really, we took this nice and slow--but still! rocks.
according to my panicked internet research on the fourth night after huck had stopped nursing when the engorgement was somehow three times worse than the three days prior, it looks like i can expect this to go on for another week or two. or three. which is when i ask myself: whyyyyy am i doing this again? anybody have a baby that needs nursing so i can go back to feeling normal?
isn't this fun? let's all wean every day!
but this is when i remind myself that this craving for the weight of a baby in my arms as we nurse, this is a good thing. this is that time in my life, and i am working to that direction. i crave a newborn like you'd crave a good sandwich. and every night i remind myself that i am only giving up nursing so that i can nurse again.
it's like taking a leap before knowing whether or not there's something to land on.
it's like that scene in indiana jones and the last crusade. i mean, not to be overly dramatic about it or anything.
most nights, after henry falls asleep without needing to nurse, i start to feel real sorry for myself. i'm being so silly about it, i know that. but i don't know when i'll get to nurse a baby again, it's this big unknown. and so in a way it feels a little bit like something i loved was torn from me.
i wasn't ready, i wasn't ready. i sobbed to brandon on sunday night.
but the thing is. i am ready.
i am ready. and now, i am one step closer.