As my breastfeeding journey with R begins to wind down, I can't help but get a little sad. After he has weaned, my entire breastfeeding journey will be over. Full stop. There are no more babies to come, no more milk drunk faces, no more sleepy milky smiles, no more boob racetrack. While I'm grateful to have 45+ months of breastfeeding under my belt and excited to move on to the next phase of mothering, I will miss certain things about breastfeeding.
It's easy parenting
Is your baby crying? Give them the breast. Baby not feeling good? Give them the breast. Toddler having a meltdown? That's nothing a quick nursing session won't solve. Breastfeeding is a quick and effective way to calm down. Not only does it bring your child to a safe place, but the oxytocin released during letdown helps mom relax a little, too. Once R weans, I will be parenting a toddler without my breasts. I'm a little unsure about how I'm going to survive without my tantrum taming tatas. Just kidding... kind of.
The company of other breastfeeding mothers
There is truly something magical about being in a room full of nursing mothers when you're lactating. Perhaps it's all the oxytocin flowing, but everyone is happy and welcoming. Women share stories about sleepless nights and tongue ties while older children play together. You'll often find a seasoned mom helping a new mama with a baby carrier. It feels like a sisterhood, even if it's just for an hour. The best part is that no one cares if your baby pops off and your nipple is out there for a second or two. I mean, they're just nipples, right?
I've lost track of the number of times I've fallen asleep while breastfeeding*. Sometimes I've slept as long as the baby did, while other times I took a quick catnap. Who couldn't use more sleep? I know I can! Regardless, I will miss the random naps when we wean.
* please note that this typically happened while my oldest was at school in a safe sleep environment.
Whether it's a Big Latch On, Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge, La Leche League Conference, or weekly breastfeeding group, each event puts breastfeeding in a positive light. No one is shamed for breastfeeding in public, mothers are excited to be there, women are proud of what their bodies can do. These gatherings are truly a celebration of breastfeeding.
Uninterrupted time with my son
As both of my boys grew into older babies and toddlers, they became busier and busier. After all, there was a whole great big world for them to see for the first time. When it was time to breastfeed, it gave me a few minutes with the boy when he didn't seem to have time for me. He had to stop what he was doing, he had to be still, and he had to be close.
Those heart-bursting-with-love moments
You know the ones: the franticness of a hungry newborn, the contented sigh when the milk lets down, the sleepy smiles, and the milk drunk faces. Memorizing his face, kissing his hands and sometimes his feet (gymnurstics), being amazed of this tiny person that is growing and thriving because of me. The imprint of his ear on my arm. Those intimate moments that take my breath away and cause me to tear up when I think about no longer having them. This is what I will miss the most.
Breastfeeding has made an enormous impact on my life. It has been one of the most enjoyable things I've done as a mother. It has also helped me determine my future. Thanks to a tough start breastfeeding my older son, I started learning about lactation and am on track to sit for the IBCLC exam in October 2017. Without breastfeeding, I wouldn't know what I want to be when I grow up. I am so thankful to breastfeeding for so much more than just helping my children grow.