The signs are already there. Owen is starting to nurse less and less. The world around him is far too interesting and stealing sips from Henry’s sippy cup is exhilarating. As we begin the inevitable end of our nursing relationship, I have so many mixed emotions.
First, I am so grateful to have been able to feed my baby by breast for almost twelve months. I never thought that I would want to nurse my babies but once we established our relationship it felt both natural and significant. I loved every minute of rocking baby Owen in his room while he nodded to bed and he ran his little fingers in my hair. I loved less the moments when he shoved his hand down my throat or grabbed and twisted my nose with all his might but hey he was bored there nursing and wanted to amuse himself. I will miss the way his eyes lit up as I carried him over to our little nook and he knew he could just snuggle in and have alone time together. I will not miss pumping at work to maintain my supply and ensure he had enough to drink while I was away. Those days of running between classes and meetings to the mother’s room were not easy but they were necessary.
Second, I am so grateful that both Owen and my body made it work. While nursing is the most basic and natural human relationship it is SO hard to establish in our society. Without easy access to resources, nursing can be frustrating and isolating. I am grateful to all the women who supported us, cheered for us, and helped normalize this basic human act. And for David for being my lactation consultant and champion.
Third, it felt nice to be a mammal. This might sound weird but I enjoyed remembering that we are not special snowflakes in the universe but part of it and we feed our young just like our mammal friends. We grow our babies, birth our babies, and then feed our babies.
Lastly, I am sad. So sad that Owen is my last baby. That these next three weeks will be the last time I nurse a little human and that my baby is growing up. It feels unsteady to be closing this chapter. It feels bittersweet.