You may not know it right now, but last night was the last time I fed you milk. It breaks my heart into a million pieces to think that we will never be that close, physically, again. As I sit here, tears streaming down my face, I have so many things I want to tell you about our nursing journey together.
During the first hour after you were born, you were nuzzled up to my breast and sucking away. You knew exactly what you needed to do, I don’t know how, but this is the miracle of birth, it all just comes together. I remember the nurse came to check to see how you were nursing and she had to remind me to make sure that you were able to breathe through your nose, one thing I had neglected to notice. However, I sorted ourselves out and you were able to breath and feed at the same time.
I didn’t know what I was doing at the beginning, should I feed both sides, how long should you feed, how much milk should be there, should I pump and feed you from a bottle, should my breasts have grown triple the size over night, how am I supposed to hold you, which positions to use? There were so many things that I didn’t know and all you need to know is that I did my best to figure out our “routine” and our own way of becoming master experts at breastfeeding.
The first 6 months were pretty easy, whenever you cried I would feed you and you were happy. We had no routine, I didn’t feel that it was necessary to watch the clock, like I said when you cried I fed you, no matter where we were or what we were doing. It worked out well.
The 6 month mark came around quite quickly and it was time to start introducing solids, which is when I started to panic a little, thinking about how this will affect milk supply. And it did, but apparently that was normal, I just hadn’t read that far into my book to know what happens. I was so focused on making the right food, the right consistency, the right way to use a spoon and of course the right way to save your life if you started to choke that I didn’t think so much about milk supply.
At around 8 months, I felt my milk supply was dwindling and that’s when I decided to hibernate for 4 days to get the milk flowing again. We spent 4 days in bed feeding every 2 hours and eating so many magical formulas that by the end of the 4 days I was bursting again. We did it together, without you I couldn’t have done it, and you were oh so patient with me as I made you drink and drink.
We spent the next few months continuing this back and forth from solids to milk and it worked out great. You got bigger and stronger and started to crawl and walk and before I knew it was your first birthday. Such a milestone, we made it one year together and that was always my goal and after one year I would stop feeding you and you would be free to go. However, I wasn’t ready and to be honest, neither were you. You would often come to me for some milk, so we continued.
In the last month, I have questioned myself about whether it was really necessary to keep feeding you your morning and night-time feeds. One part of me would think, “Why not, it’s so great for her immune system and if you have the milk and she still wants it just keep going”. Then there was the selfish part of me that was saying, “Just stop and let yourself be free. You can get your life and body back after two years with this baby”. And last night I decided it was the perfect time and the right time.
Weird to say the right time, as you had been fighting a virus for the past 2 days but listen to me, it was the perfect time. Unfortunately, you had missed your afternoon nap, due to our doctors appointment and I was trying to keep you awake as long as possible so that you could go to sleep around 6. But 5 pm hit and you didn’t want to wait any longer.
You stood by my legs, lifted your arms to me and whimpered so I would know you were hungry. I lifted you and tucked you under my right arm, lifted my shirt and off you suckled. I sat and watched you, looking at your perfect face and shiny hair, marvelling at the thought that I had made you. You were a part of me and I am a part of you. I also looked at how big you had grown and that you are no longer a helpless little baby anymore, and that soon you won’t need me for this. I quickly pushed this thought out of my head, because, you see, I didn’t want to accept that there will be a day that you won’t be lying in my arms and you won’t need me for milk.
I switched you to the left side. Again, I couldn’t stop looking at you. Your eyes were closed and I knew, that very soon, you were going to fall asleep in my arms. You kept nodding off and then coming back for more and eventually you were gone. You had stopped sucking but had stayed in that position. As I started adjust myself, your little mouth parted and instead of me you grabbed your thumb and in it went. We stayed like that for a little while. It was the most peaceful feeling I have ever experienced, your body curled up next to me, your cheeks were rosy red, like a painted doll, and your skin slightly glowing from the effort of feeding and from the warmth our bodies generated off each other. It was at that moment that I said that was the last time. I wanted that to be the moment I remembered from this experience. I didn’t want to give us a deadline, having an off switch would just stress me out. But this moment, at exactly 15 months old was going to be the last time I nurse you.
Now, I feel this great big shift, like the world moved a little. I feel a sense of grief, which is probably why I don’t feel great today, suffering from an achy body and temperature. It is an emptiness I am going to have to fill and with your help we are going to find new ways to bond and be together.
Just always remember that you can jump into my arms whenever you wish. Don’t think I gave up on you by stopping, see it as a new beginning to becoming a bigger and stronger person. You are the funniest, strongest most beautiful little person out there and I am so proud of you for growing up so wonderfully. You have mastered independence by going to kindergarten without a fuss. You cried for the first 10 minutes of the first day and that was it. You go to kindergarten with the biggest heart and with so much passion and love for everyone. When your teachers tell me about your day and what you did, I just explode with pride. When you cheer me on during our running or cycling trainings, my heart skips a beat, because you support me as much as we support you.
From this day on, we will both find other ways to love and cherish one another. It will give us more time to hug and kiss and tell each other how much we love each other. We can spend more time talking and more time dressing up and more time watching Spongebob Squarepants. Time hasn’t stopped and it will only get faster, however, we can enjoy more things together this way. I did it for you, like I always have and always will.
I love you, baby girl.