Breaking-Up with Breastfeeding

I’ve had my last child. There. I said it out loud, well sort of.

I am filled with such a profound mix of emotions; relief coupled with a deep, dark sadness.

I am so worn out that I feel that my very bones are tired. I have more grey hair than Steven Tyler and I possess wide, giant clown feet that belong to a woman eight inches taller than myself. I haven’t slept in six years and I have been nursing or pregnant for as long. My youngest baby is fifteen months and it was at this age that both of his older siblings were weened from breastfeeding. This baby, though, wants to nurse 24/7.

A friend recently commented, That’s very common with the last baby. Mom’s nurse longer because they know it is their last.

I chuckled. HA! No! I assured her. It’s him, not me!

Then a couple of days went by in which I sat with the idea that maybe it was partially me that was holding up this break-up. I pondered the fate of my boobies. They were once again going to be mine. You see there are fantastic, logical reasons as to why I am partially really excited to ween my baby (who really is not a baby anymore). I am just beginning to see the rays of freedom that are afforded to mothers with older children. I know that each stage in raising a child comes with its own set of joys– teaching them how to ride a bike or discussing their take on the world. And even as I’m typing these reasons, trying to cheer myself up with the notion that I am on the edge of getting back the scattered pieces of myself, I am so profoundly heartbroken.

He is my last. This is the last baby that I will breastfeed– the last cherubic face that will stare up at me with those big eyes, a half smile playing on his lips as he gently tugs on my hair. He is no longer going to need just me. He will become more and more self-sufficient. Our relationship is going to change, and a huge part of my life is coming to an end.

It’s like breaking up with someone, a friend of mine explained as we discussed the topic. I sobbed for weeks after I stopped nursing, even though my daughter was fine! I missed her. I missed us.

I am getting ready to say goodbye to a happy mess of a woman– one who has lugged around diaper bags and worn old lady underwear for way too long. I am preparing to shed the skin of the newborn mother and I am stepping into the world of having time– time to devote to something other than a baby. I can start to choose my clothes based on fashion instead of nursing convenience, or wear heels instead of flats because I won’t have a child strapped to me. I can go out at night with my husband and have a girls weekend.

There are many beginnings ahead of me as a mother, as well. There are camp fire sing-a-longs, soccer games and prom nights– and I’m looking forward to each of these. But as with any loss, it’s important to take a moment to let myself grieve just a little bit for this breastfeeding phase.  I have adored it in an exhausted stupor but these moments have culminated into the best years of my life.  There is so much preciousness that has flown by in the blink of an eye and I am sad to let them go.

I am no longer a newborn’s mother.

I want to transition into the next phase with grace but to be honest, grace has never been my strong-suit. I tend to trip and fall into things, or bang on them until they open. I will never forget the moments that I’ve shared with my three babies; the late nights, soft caresses, and the occasional titty-twister. And when I’m ugly-crying, leaning back on my youngest son’s bedroom door as he’s fast asleep inside without me, I’m going to try to remind myself that breakups are a necessary part of life; they lead to new things.


2 thoughts on “Breaking-Up with Breastfeeding

  1. Ooohhh, it’s so hard, my baby! You know I would have nursed you kids till you were forty if your dad would have let me!! I love the way you balance this sweet loss with all the great things that are coming to you in it’s wake! Such a great mom – I love you!
    Hang in there!

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