Five years and four months ago, I walked through the threshold of motherhood forever changing my life, priorities and essence. Having my first baby in my arms was definitely a “before-and-after” type of moment. One that I cherish with every part of who I am.
Now, with my youngest having just turned one a few weeks ago, I find myself in a sort of limbo where I don’t know if this will be my last baby (we haven’t taken a strong stand either way yet) and thus, I don’t know if I’m living my “lasts” yet. The last pregnancy, the last newborn in my arms, the last breastfed baby.
It’s hard to think that I may be saying good-bye to breastfeeding forever. (Forever is such a heavy word when it means that you won’t get to do something you loved so much). Yet, here I am, following my plan of weaning the baby and I feel very nostalgic for something that I just stopped doing.
I had thought of breastfeeding from the moment we decided to get pregnant but I had no idea of the implications. Yes, it is the most natural way to feeding the baby. No, it doesn’t come as natural as you would expect. Nonetheless, once you and the baby are in sync, it is the most wonderful gift (both emotionally and health-wise) that you can give your baby and yourself.
I loved the time spent with a nursing baby. I loved their warm bodies against me, their happy smiles of satisfaction after eating, their hands wrapping around my fingers, their little heads nestled in the nook of my elbow. Feeding them from my own body made me feel connected to them in a special way, empowered and very, very happy.
I don’t want to give the wrong impression about breastfeeding, it isn’t a romantic notion and perfectly blissful from day one. In fact, I needed some help from lactation consultants with my first two kids. But all the work, the diet restrictions and the learning pains (quite literal) were absolutely worth it. I was able to nurse my first for eight months and my other two for a little over a year. What precious time! And I can’t believe that this may be it. The end of an era.
When visiting the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago some weeks ago, we came across the Egyptian figurines below. The powerful notion of a goddess nourishing her baby with her very own breast milk, made me reflect of the importance of womanhood and motherhood in every society. I felt proud to be able to take part of this very important life ritual and to be able to connect with my own babies in this very powerful way.
Through my years as a nursing mom, I have had the opportunity to overcome my anxiety of nursing in public. I have found myself feeding my babies in airplanes, restaurants, parks, the back of taxis, in crowded parking lots and even at the circus (I’m not kidding). I am thankful for other nursing moms who taught me not to hide this wonderful gift and for the unique opportunity of nursing side-by-side other mom friends during playgroup and other outings.
Some of the most powerful, every-day type of nursing moments for me have been the ones I have lived with my friends. When all of the sudden, in the middle of a get-together with our children, four of us had stopped everything to begin breastfeeding our babies at the same time, as if it was a premeditated and preplanned part of the playdate. Having this sort of support has meant the world to me.
I also loved the times when I was able to show my older children that being a nursing mom is a natural part of life. I never hid this from them and I was happy to answer all their curious questions: is your milk white or chocolate, mommy? When I have babies, can I give them milk from my body? Why daddies can’t give babies milk like mommies?
But my most favorite nursing times where the ones in the early hours of the morning, when I would have the baby eat laying next to me in bed. Having their little body fit like a puzzle piece next to mine, hearing their hungry gulps going from fast and intense to calm and subtle as their bellies would fill up, having my husband completing the puzzle by embracing me from the back and surrounding us with his arms… that, to me, was perfection and bliss. It represented the pure essence of parenthood and the devotion that one finds when becoming a mom.
Now it is time to say good-bye to it all. Farewell breastfeeding, you have been one of my greatest passions as a mom.