I’ll always admit that it took me a while to find my groove becoming a Mom. I’m so in the thick of it now, that I tend to forget what a difficult adjustment it really was for me. This past weekend, while perusing through some old stuff, I found an old journal entry about my last nursing session (and breastfeeding relationship) with my first-born, Ellie. As I read through it now (three years later and with an additional toddler in the mix), I can’t help but smile at the sweet naivety and humbleness of my tone. I truly had no idea how much control I wouldn’t have being a parent. I thought I’d share my entry from that day here, in the event it strikes a chord with any other parent out there 🙂 Enjoy!
December 2013- Our last nursing session
I made the decision last night to wean you entirely from breastfeeding. Okay, so you decided, and I cried.
Oh my sweet Ellie. You are nothing like I imagined you would be, yet you are everything I’ve ever hoped for. Love is such a wonderful thing. The way it isn’t finite, I mean. The way you can love additional things and people without needing to decrease your love for something or someone else. Rather love grows and grows without concern for anything really. I’ve never loved anything quite the way that I love you; and my love for you just fits in my heart with no question as it continues to grow.
You’re almost 11 months, and you decided to stand on your own today. You have three teeth. One just came in yesterday! You got your bottom right tooth first, and then you randomly got your upper left incisor. Yesterday your bottom left one poked through. You love ham, pears, mandarin oranges, sweet potatoes, and strawberry yogurt out off the packets. You hate to cuddle, and have only slept with me at night once (when I thought you were teething- you cried nearly the entire night). I guess you like your space.
I’ve heard people say over the years that folks are just born the way they are. I had my own pre-parent opinions about this, but since having you, I realize that things aren’t as binary as I once thought they were, and I contend that individuals are just born in certain ways. At less than a year, I know you’re independent, impatient, vocal about what you want, and you don’t do things unless you’re confident you’ve mastered the skill. For a long time, you only liked to be carried in one way, and you definitely weren’t shy about trying to communicate that. One day you woke up and decided you no longer wanted your pacifier, to be rocked to sleep, or wanted pureed foods. Honestly, it’s been more difficult than I ever expected keeping up with you because when you change, you do it very quickly with no transition time. Last night, you officially outgrew breastfeeding, and there probably won’t be any looking back on your end.
I love you more than you may ever know, and I absolutely adored our breastfeeding relationship. When people asked me how long I planned to breastfeed, I thought three months tops. I didn’t start with a specific goal, but I figured three months was all my work situation would realistically permit. I was never a passionate petitioner for breastfeeding; I just planned on doing what worked for you and me. My first attempt in the hospital with you was a disaster. Epic fail. I was so shy, that I quickly gave up instead of soliciting the right help, and ended up pumping exclusively for you for nearly two months. I didn’t mind until one day I was pumping while giving you a bottle thinking “okay, now this doesn’t make any sense”.
I waited until your Dad was gone for a work trip to try to take you to breast again. Your father is the most supportive person I know, but deep down I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t feed my own baby, and I just didn’t want a set of eyes watching over me as I tried so hard to learn something that was supposed to be “so natural”. It made me feel like I was a failure, and I knew I wasn’t… I was probably awesome! I read discouraging stories about how long it took other babies to transition from bottle to breast (if they ever even did), but I wanted to try anyway. I hated it. I thought of quitting a million times. I cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t even let the water in the shower hit my breasts because they hurt so bad, and the lactation consultants I saw were so cold and impatient, not encouraging at all. Everyone said how amazing breastfeeding was, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at all of them (at first).
Regardless, we stuck with it and after a little time we finally hit our stride. It was just a learning curve for us and we needed time and patience to get to know each other. You transitioned like a rock star, and before you knew it, several months had gone by. There are so many things I loved about nursing you, but my favorite was the realization that I was giving you everything you needed in your little life. You were warm, relaxed, you felt no pain, you were being held, and you were being nourished. You’d drift in and out of sleep and I would think to myself: “what a shame she’ll never remember this”. You were such a tiny baby, and you’d look up at me with the biggest sweetest eyes. My little baby girl. You’d fit across one arm, and make the softest baby noises while I stared at you. I have so many mental pictures of our breastfeeding sessions that I wish I could print them off as keepsakes. You loved to nurse. It was my go-to move when you were feeling down or having a hard time sleeping. As you grew, you started to look up and smile at me. One time I was arguing (more like heated debating) with your Dad and you started chuckling at us while nursing; I didn’t even know you could laugh that young. You loved to feel around for my breast pad while I nursed you, and you’d raise your hand or leg into the air. Little by little I needed to nurse you less and less until I was only nursing you to sleep at night. My God you’re the sweetest little baby. I can see why it’s so hard for mothers to let go of nursing. It really is such a precious experience.
A couple of months ago you started pulling away and getting easily distracted. You discovered you liked to be calmed down in other ways other than nursing, and wanted to fall asleep on your very own without my help. You’ve been outgrowing nursing for a while but I’ve hung on to several last feeds because I love that time we spend together; I love our night feeds 🙁 You’re growing into the cutest baby ever, and last night, you gently demonstrated that you’re done entirely and ready to move on. I’m really going to miss it, but I’m so excited to see what you have up your little sleeves next. I’m so proud of you Ellie, and so blessed that we had the breastfeeding experience we eventually did, but it’s time for me to let go too. My little baby girl, I just love you to the moon and back.