Much of motherhood is spent eating crow because of opinions you had before motherhood. Opinions you had no business having. Opinions that motherhood eventually turns upside down.
At least that’s true for me. And it’s especially true when it comes to nursing.
Before motherhood, I knew the value of nursing, so of course I would try to nurse my kids. But no way would I nurse past the infant stage. That would just be weird.
I struggled to nurse my firstborn well for reasons unknown to me. Instead, I sat in my office, staring at photos of our boy, pumping basically dust because that’s all I could produce.
I gave it a good nine-month run. He mostly lived off formula. I was quietly disappointed.
For whatever reason, I could exclusively nurse our second. I was ecstatic and probably that much more ecstatic after my disappointment with nursing years before.
The first few months into nursing our second, I was fascinated with what my body could do. I was enamored with my ability to sustain this little being and captivated with the fact that I was his only supply of nutrients.
The next few months, I wasn’t as infatuated, but I still felt grateful as I excitedly anticipated more freedom once the little Hoover vacuum started solids.
The next few months, I grew increasingly exhausted with nursing because solids failed my hopes for more freedom, and nursing arguably kept my child from sleeping through the night.
The next few months, I fantasized about weaning while simultaneously dreading weaning.
His first birthday came and went. We nursed on.
No matter how depleted I felt, and no matter how over it I was—I could not bring myself to wean my toddler.
To be candid, it’s not like I was having the time of my life. I was tired of waking up five (plus) times a night for the past near year and a half. You would think the illusion of more sleep was enough to inspire me to wean. And yet, I couldn’t relinquish whatever control I had over this special bond that nursing perpetuated. A special bond that I would never have understood before motherhood. A special bond that only I would ever have with this child.
I would never physically sustain him again, like I did in the womb or like I was doing right then.
This wrestling continued. The wrestling that was surprising and unexpected because I was so previously intent on weaning before this point.
We mostly continued, even as my milk supply dwindled, until days shy of 17 months. It was then that it happened, mostly naturally, mostly without my doing, mostly abruptly. We were forced to wean only because I was nearing the second trimester of being pregnant again, and my milk went dry.
I still feel some sadness as I write this. As much as I wanted my body back, it did not take long for me to miss rocking my baby all night. So much so—that I thoroughly enjoyed comforting him through the night last week when he was sick.
Before motherhood, I knew in my head what nursing could do for a baby.
I had no clue what it would do for my heart.
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