(I Still) Got Milk?

I have a strange sense that change is happening to my nursing relationship with DD1. It’s clear that she’s not ready to give up breastfeeding yet, but I can also feel her moving away from Mama and becoming more independent. She just might even wean one of these days.

Those baby memory books, with their “insert date here” next to milestones like took first steps and smiled for the first time, don’t give you a place to record one of the most important developmental steps of all: the point where your child decides she’s ready to let go of nursing.

I know that it will be over at some point, this breastfeeding / nursing part of our life together. But it will be a gradual thing. There will be no magic date to put in the baby book, even if there was a space for it. I’ll just realize one day that DD1 hasn’t nursed in a while, and that will be the end of it. And the whole idea that something so important, so huge, would just fade away without acknowledgement, somehow has me very sad.

My favorite nursing time these days is when DD1 and I sneak out of bed together in the early morning. With the rest of the family still sleeping, we snuggle on the couch, or I sit in the computer chair and she lays on our nursing pillow that fits around my lap. She hugs me briefly, and whispers, I love you, Mama. I kiss her forehead, and tell her how much I love her, too. She latches on, and is – for just a few moments – my peaceful, angelic little baby again.

Sometimes, though, I find myself impatient with her “milk habit”. She doesn’t ask as often now, but it’s still pretty frequent. It’s more than a few times a day, let’s just say. And we’ve never gone more than 24 hours without nursing in over three years, even when DD2 was born.

Yes, it is hard to be so physically and emotionally available to your child/ren all the time, and we do sometimes wish to be rid of what seems like a giant burden- whether it is getting them to sleep for predictable stretches, or learning to use the potty, or even weaning. But then one day they are at the next phase of their development, leaving you behind to wonder just when it was, exactly, that they left you. I’m sure breastfeeding will happen the same way.

So I already regret all the times I wished she’d quit nursing and be done with it for good. And I wish I could get back just one of those days where there was nothing but holding her, letting her find both nourishment and solace at my breast, for hours on end. I feel like I’ve thrown away so many precious seconds with her by not savoring them to the fullest. I don’t want to throw away any more.

Come here, child, and have some milk with your Mama, while we still can.

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