I can feel that the end is coming.
As my little one grows and becomes more engaged with the world around him, I sense that soon he will no longer need to have the comfort of nursing from his mama. He turned one almost a month ago.
By this point in my breastfeeding relationship with his brother Miles, I was filled with the emotion of Relief. I had a hard time feeding him and I struggled hard to get him to the one year mark. I had been supplementing with formula for a long time, not even bothering to pump for the brief times I was away from him. So when he began drinking whole milk at age one I felt so much relief because though he was still nursing before bed and in the morning, I wasn’t wracked with guilt over feeling like I wasn’t able to provide the nourishment. He needed me because babies need their mamas, but he didn’t need my milk’s calories. When he did stop nursing altogether, at around 14.5 months, I was about three months pregnant with Spencer.
Yesterday as I nursed Spencer as his wind down before his afternoon nap, I felt an interesting emotion, one of not wanting this to end. I do feel the relief that I had with Miles, because Spencer does drink whole milk now, but it isn’t as profound. Maybe it’s because relatively speaking, Spencer and I have had a much easier time nursing than my first experience. Other than a brief period of worrying that he wasn’t gaining enough weight at first (fueled mostly by our very cautious doctor who worried that he would fail to thrive like Miles), he took so easily to breastfeeding. He has been a pretty easy baby and I really do enjoy nursing him. I think our fears about Miles’s weight gain made it difficult to really enjoy what became a very functional process. In my preoccupation with how much he was getting, I became detached from the emotional connection that breastfeeding provides.
I know that we can continue nursing as long as we both want to, but I know that at some point he will be more interested in running and climbing than with cuddling and latching. Until that day arrives, I will focus on enjoying the quiet moments I share when it’s just us two, committing to memory the feel of his hand clutching my shirt and stroking my cheek. The breastfeeding experience will eventually end, but I can hold those memories forever.