It’s no secret that I love nursing my baby girl. When she was born, I had it in my mind that I would try to nurse her for the first year of her life. And I remember, many times, feeling as though that year was going to be f.o.r.e.v.e.r. When we started out, nursing sucked. It was painful, uncomfortable, unnatural, demanding and non-stop.
But then it got better. And it became easy and comfortable and special.
For me, this isn’t about the breast versus bottle debate. I know some people choose not to nurse or are unable to nurse. And that is fine. As women, and mothers, it’s our right to do what’s best for us and our babies. For me, it’s something deeper than breast versus bottle. It’s about figuring out what works for Evalyn and I and sticking with it. And, for us, what works is nursing.
For the first five or six months of her life, my breast milk was the sole source of nutrition for this tiny little person. And that fact, at times, made breastfeeding stressful. There were the constant questions of whether or not she was getting enough, if my body was continuing to meet her growing needs, if she was nursing often enough, or too often, and so on. Yet at the same time, providing her sole nutrition from my body gave me a sense of pride as well. When we went to the doctor and she got weighed, I swelled, knowing that I did that. I was taking care of her and providing for her in the best way I knew how.
Then, around six months, she started exploring the world of solids and adding some other forms of nutrition into her diet. It was around this age that our nursing relationship and my attitude towards breast feeding started to shift.
Instead of thinking that I would never get my body back or that my breasts would never be the same, I started to think about how much longer I’d have the opportunity to provide for her this way. I stopped looking at it as a chore and began viewing it as a gift.
For me, nursing is a gift – it is the gift of time, and quiet, and connection, and relationship, and nurturing and bonding – all shared solely between Evalyn and I. No one else has that connection with her.
Over the past little while, I’ve started to realize how much I value my nursing experience – above and beyond it being a way of feeding my child. When she nurses, we’re close. We’re quiet. We’re still. We look at each other. We giggle. I sing. I pray. I hold her. We are connected. While I used to feel like I was nursing non-stop and my days were filled with nothing but breastfeeding, now I look forward to the four or five times a day where we get to snuggle up in a chair together and just be. It’s relaxing. And it’s calm. Just me and my child.
Each day, we’re creeping closer and closer to that big one year mark. I am excited and sad about it all at the same time. Each time I nurse my babe, I find myself wondering how many more of these moments we’ll share. How long until she’ll decide it’s time to stop? How long until I’ll decide it’s time to stop? How will I know? While at one point I felt like I would be nursing forever, I now feel like that forever is getting too close. I know a lot can change in the next few months, and I’ll follow her cues, but at this point, I hope we keep going until at least a year. And beyond that? I don’t know. I don’t know how long I’ll nurse for. What I do know, is that for now, I will treasure our moments because I know, oh how I know, that they are fleeting.
(Thank you to my sweet sister-in-law, Logi, for these precious photos!)