In December 2012, I weaned my son after 27 months of breastfeeding. This is the letter I wrote to commemorate our nursing relationship.
My sweet boy,
You are such a joy to me. We may be nearing the end of our nursing relationship, but that just means we get to embark on a new adventure together! I have such precious memories of the past two years…
When I was pregnant, I knew I would nurse you. I wanted you to have the protection my milk would give you, as well as experience the bonding. I had no idea how much I would enjoy nursing.
The first time we nursed was surreal. I couldn’t believe that just 30 minutes after birth, you were ready to nurse. But you latched on right away, like a champ. I felt so empowered. Even though my baby was outside of the womb, my body could still provide him nourishment.
Our nursing relationship was all roses – thorns and everything! We both were learning a new skill, so we hit a few bumps along the way. There were times I was afraid to feed because it hurt. Then I felt bad because I knew you needed to eat and how could I not want to feed you! But we got past that. There were times when it seemed like I couldn’t sustain your cluster feeding. Not knowing that this was normal, I thought I was failing and not giving you what you needed. Luckily your Daddy was there to reassure me that I could do it.
From then on, we tackled new challenges. Nursing in public? Started out by hiding in the car, but graduated to nursing in the Abbey Gardens, Newmarket Racecourse, London tube, restaurants, stores, airplanes and as part of the Big Latch On – twice! You’re an American citizen, but you’ve only nursed in Europe – England, Italy and Greece.
Teething? Definitely not my favorite time. You only bit Mommy a few times, but man did it hurt! The last time you bit me, I cried out in pain. You looked at me with the saddest, most apologetic eyes and then started crying, like you felt bad for hurting Mommy! I comforted you (which made me chuckle, since YOU had just bit ME) and you never bit me again.
You made such cute expressions as you nursed! Often you would furrow your brow and look very serious, as though you were concentrating on something very important. You’d get so excited at nursing time, bobbing and lunging and then latching quickly. Sometimes, you’d treat me to smiles! And when you were older, sometimes you’d laugh while latched (especially if Mommy was tickling you). You and I shared some wonderful belly laughs if you did something funny while nursing.
As you grew more aware of the world, you became quite the wiggler! Your curiosity made it hard for you to focus on feeding. You perfected the art of ‘gymnurstics’ early on. I nursed with a hand on my nose or mouth, a foot on my shoulder, a tush in my face. My favorite was when you would reach up and play with my hair. Your Grandma told me how your Daddy used to play with her hair while he nursed. Just another way you are so like your Daddy!
When you were about 4 months, I went back to work. I pumped at work until you were 12 months and able to take whole milk, so you never had to have formula. There were times I was scared and didn’t think I’d have enough pumped milk, but with extra pump sessions, lots of bowls of oatmeal, Mother’s Milk tea and the support and advice of several helpful moms, I was able to provide for you. When you were 6 months you started at the base daycare. I was able to nurse you on my lunch break! I loved connecting with you during the workday this way – such a relief from the stress of work.
Nursing you was a great comfort to me. When your Daddy left for Operation Odyssey Dawn on my birthday, nursing you made me feel less sad about him leaving. Our kitty Lola died while Daddy was in Korea. I missed her so much, but nursing you made me feel a little better. There were times when I felt unhappy during the workday and I’d go nurse you at daycare, which always made me feel better.
One of my favorite memories is when you started to ask to nurse. At first, you would sign for it by patting my chest. Later, you would pat my chest and say “Neesh! Neesh!” in a very excited voice. ‘Neesh’ gave way to “Nursh” as you gained better verbal skills. Now, at the end of our nursing relationship, you tell me “I wanna nursh little bit” or “I wanna nursh other side.” The other night, you patted my chest and asked me, “What’s in derr?” When I told you milk was in there, you very confidently told me, “No, no milk in derr. Milk in cup.” The next night, you told me “warm nurse” was in there.
I have very mixed feelings as we near the end of nursing. I’m ready to move on to the next stage of our mommy-son relationship, but you don’t seem so ready to stop nursing. It breaks my heart when you ask me to nurse and I say no. Please understand that I love you more than anything, but I want to find other ways to show you love. I’m afraid if I nurse much longer, I may start to have unpleasant feelings and I don’t want that to happen.
I’m so blessed to have you, sweet baby. Thank you for sharing this special relationship with me. I love you.