The Last Chapter in our Breastfeeding Story

It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about breast-feeding (or had any Chet updates). The transition on the blog is very much a reflection of our transitions in life. I’ve gone from monthly pregnancy updates, to weekly pregnancy updates, to a birth story, to weekly baby updates, to monthly baby updates, to now. Now we are just on the life journey. He’s growing up. Life isn’t being measure by weeks or months any more. It’s being measured by stages. It’s punctuated by events and development.

Our breast-feeding story wasn’t an easy journey. He latched on moments after he was born. He was such an aggressive nurser. It was his comfort spot. He nursed all day and all night. If you read my blog over a year ago, you know the struggles I had: cracked nipples, bleeding. My husband and my parents were so supportive. I don’t think I could have stuck with it if Christian wouldn’t have reassured me with his eyes every time Chet latched on and I cried. I cried every time he woke up and I knew he would want to eat for nearly the first eight weeks of his life. My parents brought over every form of comfort they could find at the drug store. I also don’t think I could have ever quit. I believe with all my heart breast milk is the best option for babies. Breast milk is one of nature’s miracles (read an amazing article here). My body creates everything my baby needs in the moment he needs it. That bond, the connection, the importance of establishing the nutritional and developmental foundation for his entire life means the world to me. For me, formula was never an option.

Latching on for the first time
Latching on for the first time

Chet and I found our groove. My body healed. His body flourished.

When I returned to work, I pumped three times a day. It then transitioned to two times a day. Chet learned to accept a bottle. With pumping and less actually nursing, my period returned. Chet would always refuse to nurse around my period. My milk supply slowed down, but we kept moving forward. I probably over stressed and over thought a lot of my nursing issues: was I making enough milk? was I drinking enough water to keep up my supply? was my running impacting my production? did I have enough fat? was he ready to wean? if I stayed at home would I have these worries? The more I worried, the more I tried to remind myself to trust my body. It truly does know what it needs and it will meet the demands of my baby.

Around Chet’s first birthday, he started to refuse the bottle at my mom’s house. He didn’t want a bottle. His nursing also cut back drastically. I went from nursing on demand (the method I used his whole life) to nursing when he woke up in the morning, after nap times, before bed, and middle of the night feedings. He was still waking up to nurse one or two times a night. He never showed any interest in nursing outside those times. In the weeks following his birthday, nursing slowly fell off. He no longer wanted to nurse after nap time. He then started sleeping through the night. Middle of the night nursing disappeared. Once he started sleeping through the night, he no longer wanted to sit in his chair in his room to nurse in the morning. The only nursing that remains is before bed.

Learning as we went
Learning along the way

This is where we are today. I nurse Chet once a day before bedtime. He only nurses for a minute or two before he is squirming away to grab his passy and moocow. Last night, for the first time  in almost a year, I wasn’t home for bedtime. I went for a run and stopped to pick up dinner on my way home. Chet was ready for bed before I got there, so Christian tackled his bedtime routine. Chet went to bed without a whimper. I thought he might wake up missing me. He didn’t. This weekend I will be out of town. Chet will be home with Christian for three bedtimes without me. Three more nights of not nursing this weekend has me wondering if he will want to go back to nursing at all next Monday. I don’t think I will sit down in our nursing chair Monday night. I think I will put him to bed, and I will follow his lead. Will he miss his nursing?

The idea of it all being over has me feeling every emotion. I’m proud that I made it nearly 16 months nursing my baby. I’m sad that it could all be over when I had every intention of nursing into his toddler years. This is just another milestone in his development. It’s another baby layer being shed as he evolves into a little boy. I’m excited to regain my body. I’m excited to have hormones that are only supporting my body. It is also hard to watch him grow up. I miss my itty bitty baby, but I adore my new toddler.

I choose nursing because I know it’s best for my baby. I choose it for him, but it gave me back so much more than I expected. It gave me quiet time with my baby. It gave me moments in a day with a very active baby that slowed down. It taught me to hold on to the things I believe in. The tears and the blood were worth it. Following his lead for the past 16 months has taught me to trust. It showed me that letting go is the best option always.  Worry and stress only produce worry and stress. Feeling my way through this process (and every process in life) is the best way for me to travel through life.

New baby bliss
New baby bliss

Our finish line is right around the corner. Thursday night may be my last night nursing. It could also be weeks away. Chet could surprise me and it could be months away. Either way, the end of our nursing journey is approaching. Like every finish line, tears are streaming down my face. I’m proud. I’m happy. I’m excited. I’m sad it’s all behind us. I also know that this finish line marks a start line for our next journey.

What an amazing journey………

(If you are starting down the road of nursing, I wish I had visited with a lactation consultant outside the hospital. If we have another baby, I will invite one to our home week 1 of the baby’s life.  I also wish I took more photos – even when crying. I have so few of me nursing him and it was such a special time for me over the past 16 months).

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