As Judah's first birthday approached, I couldn't believe it had already been a full year of nursing the little guy. But over the last year I've come to learn that the sleepless nights, the stabbing sensation in my chest that lasted a good 6 weeks (the pain, oh the pain!), the uncomfortable nursing bras, the nip protectors, the countless hours of pumping, and even the 45-minute feedings every 2 hours were all entirely worth every moment that I was able to bond with and provide in this way for our sweet boy--despite not always thinking that in the midst of it.
The thought of weaning makes me so teary now, and at one point in the journey I couldn't wait until I could quit. It was hard. Like I-can't-do-this-anymore hard. No matter what people said, I found it to be inconvenient, time-consuming, physically and emotionally draining, and uber painful at times. But in those moments, I slowly began to look at it as just one of the sacrifices that I got to make as his mom and then, as time progressed, I got the hang of it and the pain was replaced with confidence in this new role I had taken on. I'd say it took a solid 4 months to where I would call it convenient and easy (and CHEAP!). Figuring out how to feed in public in my Moby was also a game changer. Once I got that down, then my options and outings were endless. I didn't have to worry about getting back home in time or packing anything except a few diapers and wipes, and sometimes I just left his whole bag at home. And since you can't nurse too much, it was nice to be able to calm him when he got fussy in public, after his shots, fell, or got upset for no reason. Joel and I are convinced that the stuff truly has some amazing healing powers! Not to mention when I or him got sick, he was getting antibodies that developed just during those times to fight or fend off that particular sickness (what an amazing shield of protection that God designed for helpless and vulnerable babies!)
It's definitely bittersweet as I slowly cut his feedings down, and what I'll miss most about it is my uninterrupted time with him. Even in the midst of my heart not being it during a few rough patches, I was still able to enjoy the moment as it played out. In fact, I narrowed it down to the 5 things that I'll miss most after he weans.
- Stopping the crying. I love that I can satisfy his most basic need in less than 2 seconds. Whenever I hear him cry, the urge to feed him just takes over, and I can't wait to scoop him up and sit in my chair with him or lie him down next to me. Seeing relaxation and contentment take over his face is a great reminder as to why I did it for so long.
- His free hand. This is probably what I'll miss most. While he nurses, his free hand always explores. Whether it's grasping my shirt collar or holding onto my nose, he just stares at me and moves it all over feeling my face and clothes. I also hold my other hand out and he just plays with my fingers and palm. It is the sweetest thing on Earth and I'm going to miss that so dang much.
- Having him fall asleep mid-feed. As he got older, the less likely he was to just sleep on me. Holding him while he slept was one of my favorite things to do when he was first born, so you can imagine how sad I was when he stopped doing it. Except that I know on days when he won't nap, I can always nurse him and he will take a little nap on me while I watch a show or read a book. Holding my growing boy as he sleeps draped across my lap is something that I'll always cherish and miss since I know how quickly it changes and disappears.
- Being still. Having a baby means a lot more hustle and bustle. Whether it's a busy day staying at home or a day when I'm exhausted from work, the first time that I'll usually just sit and relax is when I'm giving Judah his nighttime feeding. I do this in the living room, in our rocking recliner, with only the lamp on, and no noise at all. I pray for his future and the boy and man he is going to be, thank God for him and what he means to our little family, and think back on the day or the fun stuff we have planned for the next day or weekend. It's a great time that I'm sure I will look back on often when I think of quiet alone times with Judah.
- Watching his eyes roll back. This makes me so happy every single night. Watching how utterly content (pun intended) he is at that moment makes all the tough moments and times that I was completely physically drained so so very worth it. Knowing he's getting the very best gift that I can give him at this point in our lives, it evokes such a feeling of thankfulness that I was able to nurse and persevered during difficult spots.
I can't say that I'll be sad to put my pump up though. In fact, I'd love to be able to kick it across my office and never look at it again. But the price tag for that torture device was steep, and I'd eventually like to see Judah become a big brother one day, so I'll use it again when that day comes. But until then, I'll happily enjoy this new season in Judah's life, where it's less about momma time and dad gets to bond with him in new and fun ways--Judah's already going through a major daddy phase at the moment (waaah!!) and Joel's getting excited planning zoo trips and park outings.
What a ride it's been, but one that I would gladly get in line for again and again. You were and are worth every moment, my sweet and precious boy.