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In which I am here, breastfeeding, but not for much longer

For six years of my life, I’ve fed my babies from my own body, and now my last baby is a busy toddler, and she isn’t interested, I’m nearly finished with this part of my life. I can feel it, like the shift in weather I sense in the collar-bone I broke when I was six years old, yes.

So I want to remember, for the real rest-work, and for the metaphors of struggle and let-down and release and feeding, and for the weight of responsibility, the lightness of giving, and for the ordinary, every day, pausing holy-wonder. I want to remember that I was here, over and over again, and I was profoundly changed.

Here I am: 27 years old, blackened and bruised eyes from the exertion of a posterior delivery of a nearly 9lb baby girl, and she is curled up on me, fresh-baby-vernix-skin-to-stretched-out-mama-skin, and she’s nursing and I’m born again with the release of birth and the knowledge that this is one thing I can give and do for her, and a longing for the lost babies I won’t hold until heaven.

Here I am: 29 years old, sprawled in the backseat of our old Trailblazer, holding another nearly-9lbs baby, in front of a crowd of strangers, and without thought, I’m trying to wrestle my shirt off through my laughter, I just want to get that baby to latch onto me, I miss him inside, I’m empty, already, but I have something to give him, it’s nothing but raw instinct. The ambulance workers make me wait until we’re in triage at the hospital. That night, I sit awake, all night, and I nurse him, longing to take him home, to be quiet together. I hold the perfect dome of his soft unstitched head in the palm of my hand, and cry with relief.

Here I am: thirty-two, nestled into my own bed, freshly washed with damp hair, and a nearly 10-lb brand new baby girl beside me, her hungry mouth on me, and I look up to see my husband, wonder in his eyes, beside and around us like a parenthesis, and he says softly that this is the favourite sight of his life, always, ever, these moments.

Here I am: crying with pain and longing, bleeding, googling correct latch videos at 3:12 in the morning.

Here I am: arranging blankets in the church pew for discrete purposes only to have chubby arms yank blankets off and suck with noisy bluster and longing, until everyone in the radius is grinning.

Here we are: on the pier by the ocean, in the coffee shop, in the mall. Here we are: at the market, at the church, in our family bed. Here I am: nursing one baby, while a toddler boy sits beside me patting her hair gently, and a kindergarten girl sits on the other side, cradling baby feet, and the baby keeps popping off to grin her gummy smile at them both.

Here we are: in the middle of the night, first thing in the morning, noontime, all times, sleeping, awake.

Here I am: snapping open nursing bras, tucking in bamboo cloths, applying Lansinoh, praying for grace, avoiding dairy.

Here I am: being changed, transformed, worshipping God in the sacred everyday gift of this radical act of giving.

Here I am: in the early days, falling asleep and snapping awake, crying when the milk lets down, drinking water, balancing on the nursing pillows, staining shirts, burning with a fever from mastitis a time or two.

Here we are: together, always together. Here we are: connected, carrying the same blood and milk and bones.

Here I am: with a real breathing metaphor of contentment and peace, with a milk-drunk, blissed-out, flour-sack of a baby, thick with goodness, and something breaks through the veil between earth and heaven, I understand down in my marrow and now I can’t think of God as anything other than Abba.

Here I am: stronger, bolder, fearless, empowered, soul-quieted, a giver, nourished by nourishing, a mama.

And here I am now: nursing a squirming and disinterested toddler, every once in a while, and knowing that one of these times, it will be her last time, and it will be my last time to lay skin to skin, tummy to tummy, with my own babies, breastfeeding, and that time is coming soon.

 

baby, breastfeeding, love, parenting
  • http://twitter.com/chicagomama Brenna D

    Oh, Sarah. Now I’m in tears. My third stopped after six weeks. And no amount of prodding, pumping, diet change could change that. And I knew she would be my last to feed. Oh, we’ll have more children, but not that way, and I still have an ache. Thanks for sharing your momma heart with us today.

    • Mme Zalopha

      Many women who have previously breastfed do successfully breastfeed adopted babies. So, if you were thinking of babies and not just older children coming into your family, you may not be done. See here if interested: http://goodiesformom.blogspot.com/2009/11/tale-of-breastfeeding-my-adopted.html

      • Kelly Goza

        Thanks for sharing this! I’m nursing my 3rd little guy (8 months) and we’re in process of adopting… I want to nurse that sweet baby too:) Great to hear of others story!

        • Becky

          I’ve nursed both my boys who joined our family through adoption. If anyone wants info on how I induced and nursed them, here’s my blog. http://lessonsfromaninfertilesocialworker.blogspot.com/ It’s important to me that people know it’s even possible! thank you for this beautiful post, also. as my youngest, who will likely be my last, approaches his 2nd birthday in a couple weeks, I feel us getting closer to the end of our nursing relationship. It makes me so sad, but you’ve articulated it better than I could :)

  • Jessica

    I nursed 4 babies to one degree or another and it’s hard to believe it’s been years now since that intimate time has passed. I miss it.

  • http://twitter.com/RachelRHeath Rachel Heath

    I’m closer to the beginning of this journey… still nursing my 20-month old (with no end in sight, and frequently in public), and I’m pregnant with another. I’ll be breastfeeding for the foreseeable future, and sometimes I resent it, it’s painful during pregnancy, I’m tired of nursing tops and being stared at in restaurants and I miss the glorious breasts I used to have… silly complaints, all of them. You remind me that it won’t last forever. Breastfeeding is a short-lived season in our lives but certainly one of the most magical. Let me be joyful and thankful for it!

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I did the nursing while pregnant thing and it was SO tiring. Grace, grace.

  • http://www.redandhoney.com/ Beth Ricci

    And here I am, sitting and rocking my own third born, he’s 12 weeks old today, and the time is flitting away so breezily. I’m blinking hard at the thought of not embracing these moments enough, not enjoying enough. I’m trying, but goodness, it’s busy, this life with little people. I love this post and the tiny details that come together to make up the breastfeeding journey, and I’m living it right there with you. Beautiful.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      How is he 12 weeks today?!? Gah.

      • http://www.redandhoney.com/ Beth Ricci

        I know. It defies logic.

  • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

    I remember the last time that my youngest nursed. He looked at me with these eyes that said, “You know, I’ll do this for you, but I’m done,” and I knew that it was our last time. Every now and again I still feel that tug, even though that part of parenting has been over for some time. I miss it, but there are adventures ahead, and there are other kinds of closeness to be had – oh yes, indeed.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Oh, Alise – that’s the EXACT look I get from Ever right now. Waaaahhhh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=550318280 Katherine Willis Pershey

    Oh my stars, Sarah, you have not merely made me cry here. You have made me weep. I am smack in the middle of the hard stage of nursing, which for me is the era in which my babies are not babies but toddlers who want to nurse alllll night long. It’s almost enough to stir resentment in this tired mama. To be reminded of the beauty and purpose and goodness of this task is invaluable. Thank you. And blessings to you, mama, because this is tough.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes! Evelynn was my no-sleeper. she’s sleeping now but still,that’s the only tme she nurses – middle of the night! So tiring.

  • WiddershinsNodule50

    $http://goo.gl/lBrUP

  • http://profiles.google.com/lisa.mamula Lisa Mamula

    Oh Sarah. You know that you not only write your heart, you write all our hearts as well, don’t you? I hope you do.

    I did what you’re about to do. I nursed my (hopefully) last baby for the last time. It was just under a year ago, and I remember that time. The precious times before, in the hospital, in church, in the hammock in the backyard. And I remember the last, and they are all precious. You’ll remember, though, because you’re making yourself take notice now.

    Thanks for your words.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I love how we all come together, Lisa. Love knowing I’m not alone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.chripczuk Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk

    I’m thirteen months into nursing twins and heading to a 2 night retreat this weekend with no real plan of how my husband is going to handle the babies (and the older two) during their morning and evening feedings. I’m not ready to be done nursing, not quite, and weening two isn’t something I can seem to get figured out yet, but the thought of facing the dreaded pump is beyond me. So I’m praying for grace for us all. I can’t believe this time of my life will be done soon too.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Twins! So brilliant. Praying for grace. I’m leaving mine for the weekend coming up, with the same absence of a plan! Great minds….

  • monkeytoes

    I don’t know what to say. I have tears streaming down my face. I am a mom of three and I also work as a breastfeeding counselor. I can never quite put words to the sweet sacredness of this…

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      It defies words, doesn’t it?

  • dorothea78

    Oh, this is so beautiful and just exactly where I’ll be in a matter of months. Our 3rd (and we believe our last) is 12 months old now and I can see him beginning the process of being finished. It has been for me the exact experience of worship and holiness and wonder that you describe; I have been so blessed.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I love how you ended that – I have been so blessed. Amen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/estaann1 EstaAnn Ammerman

    My youngest is 11.5 years old. Thank you for the unexpected reminder of those most beautiful moments I spent with my girls. Every stage is a chance to have an intense bond. It just is different. When you listen and really hear them, it fills their hearts just like the milk from your breasts filled their bellies. It is very comforting to them. Knowing that you care that much to value how the feel and take the time to let them express themselves gives them life-giving nourishment. It’s the nourishment that helps them grow to love themselves.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes! that’s so beautifully said.

  • Cecelia

    Mmm. Your lovely words do this miraculous task real justice. Thank you for taking me back to when my babies were there.

  • SortaCrunchy

    My girls are now 7 and 5 and I can’t believe it’s been so long since they were my little nurslings, always at my side. Even to this day, I miss it so much. I miss being able to scoop them up and give them such calm and warmth and peace and so much of myself.

    All of the scientific and health-type reasons aside, I feel like I’ll always be advocating breastfeeding because of that potential it has to change us in such intense ways. It’s such a sacred thing, even when it’s awful. The real breathing metaphor of contentment and peace. Yes, yes, yes.

    Gosh, this is beautiful. What a gift. Thank you, Sarah.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I keep thinking of you as I see Lovelyn’s photos of nursing her little twin girls. Such a beautiful season ahead for you. And thanks.

  • Iba

    I miss nursing my baby son. He’s 20 months old now, my third and last child. He’s the one that latched easily, nursed like a champ and I was finally on my way to really nursed my baby. Then, he discovered mobility at 6 months. That was the end of it. I tried so hard to get him to nurse and he refused. He couldn’t be bothered to stop and nurse. He wanted to move. I pumped but slowly, it was no longer enough.

    This is so bittersweet.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Very bittersweet, I know.

  • http://twitter.com/life_edited Amanda Williams

    And now I want another. This is intensely beautiful and tender, Sarah.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Well, that’s good news! :-)

  • Kelsey

    Oh my goodness Sarah, the tears flowed so easily while reading this. It is such a spiritual experience, yes. I have many months till my firstborn weans (I hope! he’s only 9 months now), but I already wonder what alternatives we will discover for comforting, and for when he’s desperately sleepy and desperately can’t go down without nursing. This was a beautiful testimony of such a sacred time.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes, you do find new ways and new things in the new seasons but this is a special one, for sure.

  • Lorrie

    My youngest is 26, and my eldest, now 30, is nursing her first, 3-month old. I remember those hours of nursing as some of the sweetest of motherhood. This post brings tears to my eyes, tears of gratitude for those memories that I’ll always have.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      What a lovely circle, Lorrie!

  • http://twitter.com/erikalifeartist Erika Morrison

    Just <3. Makes me want to go back in time SO bad.

    And Sarah Bessey? You will never stop breastfeeding, it's just so much of who you are – you will have your aching fevers and incorrect latches, wake in the night and laugh during the awkward moments, lay skin to skin with the world and always let down your nourishment . . .

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Now you’ve given me something to think about, Life Artist, yes, you have.

    • http://annieathome.com Annie | annieathome.com

      Yes, yes, yes.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jackandellasmum karen huber

    beautiful. I didn’t think I’d miss nursing my babies as much as I do. thanks for sharing this amazing, intimate, divine gift.

  • http://www.facebook.com/megan.friedokra Megan Ferree Cobb

    Oh. You. I had to hold my breath and read this in snippets so I didn’t hyperventilate and melt into a puddle of tears. I feel you, sister. I had to finally just “accidentally” forget to try to nurse my youngest again after 26 months of nursing and two extra months of him being Pretty Much Done and me being … So Very Not. And it was only about half a year ago (he’s over 4 now) that I could let myself look back and know that last time was The Last Time. (Does that even make sense?) Because I really couldn’t do it any other way or I’d still be nursing my really-REALLY-over-this-now-Mom boy for “the last time” every night at bedtime. It was an amazing experience, one of the Top 5 Blessings Of My Life.

  • laura @ hollywood housewife

    I barely breastfed, but this still touched me so deeply.

  • http://wheremyheartresides.com/ Ashlee

    I am four months in….breastfeeding my first baby and after those two first horrible weeks of bleeding and crying, I never thought the day would come when I would say “I love breastfeeding!!” but I do. I DO love breastfeeding. This made me appreciate it even more.

  • Amanda M.

    This makes me cry. So beautiful. I nursed both my babies for 14-15 months. I hope to have more babies, but because of medical issues, they will not be biological. My sons were both NICU babies, and my oldest was in there for 7 weeks. I pumped for the first few months – oh the tears I cried over that wretched but necessary pump – and the sleepless nights when he came home still on a bottle b/c we had to count ounces and supplement calories for his tiny little body.I felt all I did was feed him and pump and start again. He didn’t latch until we got some help from an expert. Many, many tears cried over trying to nurse – and eventual success. And once it got easy, I felt so blessed (most of the time) to get to do such a thing. Beautiful moments, they were.

  • Elizabeth

    oh the momma beauty, the momma love, and the mystery of the bond. Thank you Sarah from my mother’s heart with love and precious memories of these times in my own life. One of those life treasures that I will savor too, mother-child intimacy at its pinnacle.

  • http://twitter.com/racetowardsjoy Sarah Lowe

    oh my goodness I can hardly write this comment through the tears that are flowing. This was absolutely beautiful. I am so blessed by your precious heart and precious words, thank you so much for sharing them. I had such an emotional time when my first took her last “meal” from me at 18 months, but a few months later got to start all over again with my now 8-month-old. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced and I am so grateful for God’s design.

  • Diana Trautwein

    Sigh. Beautiful. True. The turning of the seasons-so bittersweet. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/HeatherCaliri Heather Caliri

    The sheer intimacy of it is astounding. It’s that last hold they have on being part of us. And my time is ending soon. I’m mostly ready, but also feeling loss, like you.

  • Becca

    this made me well up- it is written so beautifully, and feels so close to home. there’s nothing sweeter than knowing that baby needs you and so bittersweet knowing that’s the last time you share that bond. (spoken as a mommy of 3 healthy sized babies and the 3rd who is almost finished nursing! *sigh*

  • Amanda Medlin

    Oh my goodness, that brought tears to my eyes. I just finished nursing my two year old a few months back and I miss the connection we had. I hope to have another someday, but you never can be sure, so thank you for helping me remember in such a real and vivid way.

  • Danielle Doan

    Here I am reading this as I nurse my 16 month old and weeping…

  • http://howtotalkevangelical.addiezierman.com/ Addie Zierman

    Beautiful.

  • http://annieathome.com Annie | annieathome.com

    This was beautiful, Sarah. In my head, I’ve re-titled it: “In which Sarah Bessey Makes You Want to Have Another Baby.”

    • Holly

      Yes. Yes she does.

  • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

    Wow, this struck me as I wrestle my own three year old girl to bed right now as she pops out of her bedroom door again and again.

    Our nursing journey was rocky, difficult, she screamed for the first month and couldn’t latch, fell asleep hungry from the frustration and I cried all night long for weeks wondering why my willing body couldn’t help her gain weight.

    Yet here we are healthy, over a year of nursing shared together, I sustained her with my body and in many different ways I still so, as I read her stories and she strokes that mole on my face, the one I don’t like.

    This sustained me to wrestle her down one more time, took me back to the root of it all, and I’m so grateful Sarah.

  • http://www.facebook.com/renee.mcintoshdavis Renee McIntosh Davis

    And here I am, reminded of my years of the same. Now, I live through others…. Lactation has defined me. I am grateful. I am so very grateful.

  • paula

    oh my that is so touching! im crying with joy and wonder and connection to all the mothers who have ever breastfed!

  • Tara_pohlkottepress

    beautiful. beautiful. beautiful. after a spit fire mama and daughter pride fight, i cradled her to chest in a fierce hug to keep us together, and oh… I felt the phantom let down, and my soul wanted to bring her back to my skin. because she wears my heart tucked right up in hers. this bond, even when completed just keeps giving. so do your words, you know that?

  • http://turquoisegates.com/ Genevieve Thul@Turquoise Gates

    You just never know what life will bring. I breastfed my four, until I was diagnosed with cancer when my youngest was 8 weeks old, and I had to wean him at 7 months for treatment. I cried for weeks as I drank sage tea to dry up my milk and stuffed his little hands in my armpits to keep him from nuzzling into my shirt, and bound my breasts, and forced the bottle until he gurgled but finally drank. I had pumped 3 months supply, nipples bleeding, heart bleeding, long dark hours of the night. Then my daughter, 3, got a brain infection, and she couldn’t sit up anymore, talk, anything. Gave her a bottle for a while. Got pregnant. Lost the baby. Had a break in cancer treatment. My milk came in on the baby’s due date. I spent two days in the shower, massaging engorged breasts. My daughter, a little better now, licked the milk from my dripping shirt, and asked to nurse, out of the blue (she had weaned herself at 12 months, out of the blue as well). So I said yes, please, please, nurse these aching breasts. And she did, for a year, and she grew for the first time in a year since she’d been ill, and her brain started to heal from the breastmilk and it was miracles all around. She nursed until she was 4 1/2 and I had to have my next cancer treatment. I wrote this to her on her last weaning day: http://turquoisegates.com/2010/12/to-my-youngest-daughter-on-her-weaning.html.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cwhiteduck Carrie Whiteduck

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’ll be sure to hug my little one a little longer and a little tighter today. I am sorry to read that you and your family have been through so much.

      • http://turquoisegates.com/ Genevieve Thul@Turquoise Gates

        Carrie, yes, do, always and ever, hug them longer and hold them dearer. One can never go wrong in that!

    • http://www.facebook.com/lindsey.gray1 Lindsey Dermid Gray

      Absolute poetry..thank you so much for sharing this beautiful, painful, honest time of your life. I wish I could hug your entire family!

      • http://turquoisegates.com/ Genevieve Thul@Turquoise Gates

        Thanks for the virtual hug, Lindsey!

        • Flor

          this is absolutely beautiful. Sorry for all the hardships, but you are one exemplary mama.

          • http://turquoisegates.com/ Genevieve Thul@Turquoise Gates

            Thank you – trust me, through the hardships, one feels far less than exemplary!

    • Kim @ The Bird’s Nest

      Tears are pouring from my eyes. What a remarkable story.

  • Holly

    In ancient writings, the word “wean” meant “to ripen”. I was so comforted by that idea as my second child and I prepared for the inevitable. To know that we had both ripened to a place of readiness, that we had both been nourished along the way, well, it made every single second completely worth it. Grace to you as you both fall gently from the vine.

  • http://www.redeemingthetable.com Kamille

    And I am worn & exhausted, but I see the hidden beauty still in the still small hours. Maybe it’s like Elijah not seeing God in the fire or earthquake, but in a still small voice–nursing at night, only we mamas can do.

  • brandi

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. I needed the reminder of how special this time is, even when it is exhausting and binding and OH MY GRACIOUS I CAN’T WITH THE PUMP, I JUST CAN’T ANYMORE. My girl is 10 months, barely a baby anymore it seems, and even though I so desperately want to sleep I will miss it so much when she’s done.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erin.l.adams.1 Erin Lutz Adams

    This made me teary. Breastfeeding is beautiful. And my little Kendall is on the end side, too. She will usually nurse when she wakes up the morning. And most days, that is all. You’re right – one day, it will be the last feeding. Done. (Gulp)

  • Peggy Brown

    Sweetness….remember when I was 47 and my third, and last, son was three years old — drunk with “pumpkin juice”, as we called what I fed my little pumpkins :-) — and as his blue eyes looked up at me I asked him if he was ready to be finished with pumpkin juice. And, after three glorious years, he was — and I was — and there was no trauma and all was well. What a blessing it was to go down memory lane with you… :-)

  • KathleenBasi

    Sarah, this is so beautiful, that last paragraph making my tear up. I’m so aware of that time coming on fast, too–my little guy is only 9 1/2 months and already only half interested…and I’ll be glad to be free to wear whatever clothes I want, free to arrange schedules without worrying about nursing him at naptime or bedtime…but I’ve loved nursing, and I will be saying farwell with a pang.

  • http://www.tanyamarlow.com/ Tanya Marlow

    i love the way every single thing you write feels like a precious gift

  • Lindsay Privette

    Here I am: with my beautiful, smart, just-barely-three-years-old girl who still climbs into my lap every night and asks for milk. I’ve been trying to prepare myself for weaning for a year and a half now, but somehow neither of us can manage to let it go. Please keep us updated, really. I know so few women who’ve nursed toddlers, so I am always interested in how they’ve done it, how they’ve weaned, etc.

  • http://simplemom.net Tsh @ SimpleMom.net

    Darnit. Didn’t mean to cry here in the coffee shop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cwhiteduck Carrie Whiteduck

    I can totally relate to your story, I have had my last child and he is 3 months old, he’s a little squirmy guy and often tugs and pulls and would be happy nursing 18 hours a day if I let him. Thanks for sharing and best wishes :)

  • Leah

    You made me cry; that was so beautiful — and sad. I too am nursing a busy little toddler, and I don’t think she’ll want to nurse as long as her brother did. I treasure it, because these days really don’t last forever. They are full, so full, of grace.

  • Jen

    so beautiful. My toddler started forgetting to nurse and is down to once a day now…It is weird to think one of these times will be the last time. At times I wondered if he would ever just stop on his own. I thought that seemed impossible, but I feel it coming. It’s been such a beautiful and sometimes difficult journey to let him lead. To give so much of myself. I can’t imagine a better way to learn to give, I am changed for the better. And yes, you do make me want another baby.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lindsey.gray1 Lindsey Dermid Gray

    This brought tears to my eyes as I read it while (initially mindlessly) breastfeeding my 7 week old daughter. Quite simply one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever read, and I don’t think I’ll ever mindlessly breastfeed again. Well, maybe at 3 AM… :)

  • http://www.mamainchile.com/ Tamsin M

    I LOVED this post…you write so beautifully. So glad to have found you :)

  • Lisa

    I have such wonderful memories of nursing six beautiful children. The first two baby girls I nursed for a year each, the next baby girl until she was three because she couldn’t tolerate milk from the store, and the three little boys that followed, 18mos, 12 mos, and 12 mos, respectively. Wow! 9 1/2 years of my life that I miss so:) It was so worth it, even with multiple experiences of mastitis with a couple of my babies.
    Lisa

  • angela

    I had to wean my then 18-month-old when I became pregnant again b/c of complications, and now I’m looking forward to when his little sister is born in a few months.

  • Carrie E.

    That is beautiful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/crescentclee Canita Lee

    Just……yes.

  • Bri Floor

    I had to stop breastfeeding my one and only baby when she was 6 months old due to my health. I have Systemic Lupus and the drugs that allow me to not be in crippling pain caused my breast milk to be toxic to my one treasure, my daughter. She’s coming up on her 1st birthday, now, and I’m still mad, still hurt that I couldn’t feed her longer. I’m mad with myself for being sick. I’m mad at my doctors for encouraging me to give up this sacred thing. And, most of all, I’m sad. My heart breaks, reading your post and remembering how wonderful it felt, just me and my girl. My heart breaks because I no longer have that cuddle time with her, that time when I could retire to a room and drift off into soft sleep with her, inhaling the perfume of her head. Thank you for writing about your experience. I wish I could’ve had more babies and to have been with them like this.

  • http://twitter.com/EcoBlogz Anastasia Borisyuk

    Your post made me cry. Thank you for reminding me of how beautiful this is, nursing my littles, what feels like all day long :)

  • Em

    Absolutely beautiful!!

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  • Linda

    When mothering is just too hard for you, some thoughts…..

    Dear Mothers,

    I can only speak for myself, tell you my background and my own

    story. You have to find your own answers and make choices that YOU are

    comfortable with, no matter what anyone else advises you to do.

    I had my first baby in 1969 at 25 (5 years after getting married). I knew

    I was going to breastfeed…no matter what! I read the LLL book (all

    there was on breastfeeding that was “correct” at that time….La Leche League

    was only 10 years old then). I did great, no problems, tried a little

    cereal at 4 months (though there was no indication for it) and nursed my first baby for what I considered a long time (2 years). This hyper-dyper kid

    weaned himself…just too busy to nurse.

    I was cajoled by my childbirth ed teacher (now a friend of 44 years) to go

    to a La Leche League meeting. I was very resistant. I am not a

    clubby person and do not like formal organizations, in general.

    I finally went to shut her up more than anything else! I did not

    take my then 6 month old as I didn’t know you could take your baby to the

    meeting. I was so amazed and felt I had “come home” when I sat at that

    meeting. I had found my “village”. I learned so much about attachment parenting and that I was, by

    instinct, already doing much of it. I never let my babies or small

    children cry, slept with them, wore them and let them lead the way to their

    independence. Letting babies decide when and how long they want to be at the breast, letting them decide when and how much they want to eat IS allowing them to be independent, allowing them to make their own decisions and trusting, honoring them. Letting them know how long they need and want to be held, rocked, carried, slept with Is allowing, and fostering their independence. Babies know what they need. They have their own wisdom and it should be trusted and honored, for however long they are “babies”. It could be years and not just months and that’s so okay.

    After the meeting I asked the Leader how I could become a Leader

    (I am just NOT a follower). She asked me how many meetings I had been

    to and I told her it was my first (and me with no baby…oops)….I cannot imagine

    what she thought of me but she was very polite and referred me to a

    local group much closer to me. The next month I went and, low and behold,

    my good friend whom I hadn’t seen since high school, Brigitta

    Cuadros, was the Leader!!! Many of you may know of her daughter

    Heidi, who has a Ph.d. in breastfeeding and works for WIC in Miami.
    Brigitta took me under her wing and taught me everything I know about breastfeeding. We are

    still good buddies to this day!

    I trained under Brigitta and soon became Leader of the Coral Gables

    group. During that time I had my second son, who slept with us as I

    had gotten rid of the crib sometime during my first baby’s early life,

    though I can’t remember when. He mostly slept with us and it got to be

    a useless piece of furniture. Baby # 2 nursed for three years until

    I got a terrible case of sore nipples (as I was pregnant and didn’t

    know it, at first). I weaned him purposefully but very subtly and

    gently with much great advice from other LLL Leaders and experienced mothers.
    He barely noticed that he was no longer nursing and did not seem at all

    interested when the new baby arrived.

    My daughter had a reflux situation for about the first 6 weeks and

    threw up (with a smile) every feeding on us (I wore mostly towels) and

    then promptly wolfed down another load which always seemed to stay

    down. By 6 weeks, I had milk for twins but she was a big baby so it

    all balanced out. She weighed 8 ½ pounds at birth and about 12 pounds at 6 weeks!

    I knew she would be my last as we had decided on 2-3 kids so I let

    everything go long for her, and as she was # 3, I was a lot more laid

    back and appreciative of every little thing as I knew she was my last

    baby ever. She nursed much longer than 3 years but it was a decision

    we were both happy and comfortable with.

    I must tell you that, as a new and then more experienced mother, I

    had every common complaint that all mothers of nursing

    babies/toddlers have!!! I was supposed to be the LLL Leader and have

    all the answers and be some kind of Mother Buddha but, boy, did I have

    clay feet! I was tired, frustrated, anxious, crabby, bored,

    wondering, at various times, what I was thinking……having these

    kids who were interfering with what I REALLY wanted to be doing!!!

    what that was, I can’t recall.

    Now, my first baby is 43 years old, baby # 2 is 39 & my daughter

    would be 36 this year but we lost her to a car accident in March,

    2001. It will be 11 years this March.

    As a mother who was lucky enough to have a very supportive husband

    and meet so many inspiring wise women all along the way, I would not

    have been able to do what I did without their love and care for me and

    how I felt. They were there to pick me up and take away my fears and

    discouraging moments. They were there to point out how important

    what I was attempting to be and do for my babies and children was to them.

    Forty othree years later, I still have those women and my husband in

    my life, so, in a way, nursing gave me my intentional community and we

    all think the same way about so many other issues throughout the

    years. I am blessed to have them all in my life. I would not be who

    I am today without them so I advise you to cultivate those people who

    are your support system. Love and nurture your relationships with

    them….have a good support system for yourself. It is hard to make it

    without one.

    Forty three years later, I am so proud of me, for sticking it out

    when I really wasn’t in the mood, for being there for my children

    when a part of me really wanted to be free of those responsibilities

    & commitments that I seemed to have made before I really understood

    what they meant. I made my own choices (as unpopular as some of them

    were with extended family and some friends) and they are choices I can

    look back on, live with and be proud of today.

    Especially since the loss of our daughter, do I treasure the memories of her long time nursing and all the nights she slept in our bed, long after she had

    her own bed, own room and was no longer nursing. How I wish I could

    once again cuddle her in my arms today. And how lucky I feel to have two wonderful sons that I am very proud of.
    One is a dad of our two grndkids and he’s just a great dad!

    All of my children are potty-trained, weaned and no longer sleep in

    our bed so there is an end to all that but it is also the end of a

    glorious, rich time of your life when you are needed and wanted and

    loved so unconditionally that you will not have again, once they

    become more independent.

    You will hear war stories and may feel the anger and disapproval of

    some of your older women friends and relatives. I can tell you that

    behind that anger is often grief because as they watch you give so

    freely of yourselves to your babies and children, they feel the loss and regret of

    listening to others and not doing what was in their gut to do. Doing that

    takes courage. So tell them what great moms they are and that they did

    the best they could with what support and information they had at the

    time….because that is true and it may help them to feel less

    threatened by what you are doing or not doing that they don’t agree

    with. They had their time. This is YOUR baby and YOUR time and you get to make the rules.

    I am not telling this story to make you feel guilty for wanting

    what you want or for choosing what you choose. You have to do what

    feels right for you, your baby and your family. There is no one

    correct way of doing things. My answers are not yours, my choices

    are not right for you.

    I am telling you this story to, hopefully, inspire you, to support you by

    telling you I had the same concerns along the way and to let you know

    how much the filter of time can soften the intense demands that your

    babies and small children are putting on you right now. They often need

    your mothering much more than the amount of mothering that you have

    to give! But they are babies for much longer than it looks like on the surface

    and you are their world to them.

    I thought I would never sleep through the night again or have an

    uninterrupted nap, bath, intimate moment, phone call but now, from

    so far away, that time seems and was, such a short nine years of

    intense mothering and nursing in my life & I truly do treasure every

    moment. You will never get those moments back again.

    Take a break, nourish and nurture yourself so that you can give what

    you feel is best of yourself to your babies and children.

    I can only promise you one thing.

    You won’t regret it.

    Hang in there and if you need to talk to someone you can always call

    me….anytime – 305-582-5454.

    Many hugs, Linda

  • Hillie

    I am 54 this year….had four babies that I fed….and when I see my daughter feed her beautiful 5th child, my granddaughter, I get a tear to my eye an ache in my heart and a flood of memories taking me back to my babies that I held so close to me, never wanting them to grow, praying that I could stall time…knowing that that prayer would never be answered……

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  • Corina

    Thank you for this passionate, raw sharing of the many ways it feels to nourish our babies with our own bodies. Your poetic grace brought tears to my eyes and memories to my heart.

  • Renee

    Beautifully written, I especially like ”
    Here we are: together, always together. Here we are: connected, carrying the same blood and milk and bones.” and ”
    Here I am: stronger, bolder, fearless, empowered, soul-quieted, a giver, nourished by nourishing, a mama.” Both these sentences resonate with me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1118091243 Stephanie Williams

    Beautiful.

  • ASquared

    this is one of the most beautiful things i have ever read and it made me cry, in a bittersweet way. I read it while nursing my almost-14-month-old as she fell asleep nestled against me, and my heart always breaks a little every time I nurse her now as I know every day is one day closer to this special time being gone forever. Thank you for this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marty.coleman Marty Coleman

    I love this. It tells us men so well what it is to be you. Thanks.

  • Kelli

    I’m reading this with a 5 day old sweet baby girl asleep on my chest, and tears on my cheeks. My oldest daughter is 3, and besides looking forward to another little baby, I am so excited to have another little baby to nurse.

  • Trebor

    This is so beautiful and brought me to tears. The reminder of the struggles & the joys, the memories from each of my 5 babies. And the journey that 1 day will end with my 3 y.o. toddler who is still tandem nursing along with his 8 month old brother.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.t.oberholtzer Rebecca Todd Oberholtzer

    So beautiful. I miss nursing my babies! I nursed my first for 15 months, my second for 3 years and my third was born at 24 weeks so I pumped for many months because he was too little to nurse. Then I nursed him until he decided he was too busy, I was so so sad but so glad I tried so hard when he needed it so much. Thank you for this wonderful reminder, I feel so warm and happy just thinking about the blessing.

  • Sara

    You made me weep as a hard day of parenting has passed. My 18 month old stopped nursing a month ago. I’m 23 weeks with our second. It’s those precious moments to remember when you want to scream because they won’t eat anything you make for dinner. It makes you want to go back for times when you are their only source of nourishment. At least then you knew they were getting all the vitamins and minerals they need. I pray baby # 2 is as good a nurser as my first. Thank you for such beautiful writing.

  • maryann

    completely moved me!! that was beautiful!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ProudArmyAunt Christina M Becker

    I didn’t nurse my first son but not for lack of trying he just didn’t catch on, 7 pregnancies and miscarriages later I became pregnant unexpectedly with my 8th and final pregnancy, went without a hitch, 5 hours of labor and gave birth to my son January 8, 2009. Caedyn latched on right away and nursed like a champion for 2 years and 3 months when I weaned him from his last nursing. He’s now 3 years and 8 months old and there are days where I miss nourishing him with my body knowing I produced the perfect food he needed to thrive. Having him cost my kidney health but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Sometimes he’ll try to nurse but I say no more mommy milk and he goes off to play. Parents who choose formula just don’t understand what a special bond nursing can bring you and what loss it can spur when it’s time to wean.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rainbow.skye.90 Rainbow Skye

    Like so many others, that made me cry too with the memories evoked. Really beautifully written. Thank you.

  • Effa

    The last paragraph got to me, cos thats what im going through now. My heart aches thinking that one of these days it will be the last day of breastfeeding my 11month old

  • Jennifer Duffy

    this made me tear up – I’m still nursing my 22 1/2 month old and I also know it’s coming soon too, and he’s also my last.

  • Erin MacPherson

    Awww, Sarah, I am so in the same place as you right now. My baby–BABY!– is starting to wean himself, too. And I am not ready to be done. I’ve also breastfed for more than five years now and am in a place where I’m not ready to let go of that last thread to babyhood…but he’s getting big. And less interested. And I’m treasuring every moment because I know that this is it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tara-Porter-Livesay/669810602 Tara Porter-Livesay

    bawling my ever living head off at this.

  • Mommyof4

    My 2.5 year old has just weaned herself. She is my fourth child and my last (unless there is a wonderful surprise waiting for us down the road!!). I am so glad that I nursed my babies and that I chose to follow the lead of this last little one let her self wean, but I am also mourning her moving on. I have cried, I have had moments of heartache when it suddenly hits that I am done with this phase of life, but I am trying to focus on the next chapter and all that it has to offer our family =}

  • NolaChic

    Absolutely beautiful! I can relate and will enjoy this time without rush and with increased appreciation!

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  • KellyZ

    This is simply beautiful. It’s hard to read through the tears. I’m also currently nursing my third and final child, and will definitely mourn the end of this stage of life. Thank you for summing this up so eloquently.

  • jennadeckert

    So beautiful, Sarah. My first born weaned himself around 13 months but my 2nd is still going strong at 20 months throughout the day and several times at night. Sometimes I think she’ll never want to wean but then I know when she does, I will miss it.

  • Sherry

    I’m 67 and still occasionally dream I am breastfeeding one of my babies. The experience was and remains part of who I am. I feel sad for those who can’t or choose to not nurse their babies, for it was the epitome of my parenting experience and one I (obviously) carry with me into the golden years of life.

  • UnexpectedPrego

    I love this post. I wrote about it over at http://theunexpectedpregnancy.com/2012/09/13/love-this-post/! I loved reading about how loving your husband was when you were nursing. The whole thing made me teary eyed!

  • Jessika

    Beautiful & heart breaking poetry. My daughter is 8 months old, and although I plan to let her self-wean, I dread the day it happens. It saddens me to think about it ending.

  • Corina

    I found a link to this story on Facebook, through my midwife Kindra Hersch…and I am sitting here in tears. Thank you for writing this beautiful and intimate tribute to your babies and breastfeeding.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.m.england Laura May England

    Thank you for this beautiful picture of what we do as mothers and how the Lord carries us throughout the hard times. My heart was touched a fresh and re-inspired not to miss a moment of where we are, as this time passes by so fast. x

  • Jessica RenzHamilon

    Words can not do justice to what I feel about what you wrote…

  • Stephanie

    Absolutely breathtaking. I read this, while nursing my 5-month-old baby and nodding my head. Your words resonate in my heart,

  • Stephanie

    Side note: I’d like to hear more about this ending chapter in your life. Do you feel a “certain peace” about not having anymore babies? What has that process been like for you? I’d love for you to expound on that.

  • Rachel

    My heart breaks for you, dear mamma. There really is nothing like it, to nurse a babe. What a blessing we have been given as mothers to be able to do so. What you write is so true, and beautiful. Thank you for sharing and putting into words what so may of us feel.

  • Guest

    Oh this gave me chills. I love it.

  • http://twitter.com/maggieemma Maggie Keller

    When you first wrote this, I was pregnant with our first and wouldn’t have understood. But I have discovered it today, while nursing my 10-week-old, and I so identify with your description of “the early days.” Thank you for sharing this gift 5 months ago, because like all things, God has made it beautiful in its time, just in time for me.

  • Vicki Judd

    You made me cry. Again.

  • Ashley

    My youngest nursed for 18 months. We went on vacation and she stopped I remember thinking. If I had known that morning before we left was going to be the last time I would have sat a little longer. She is three now and to this day when she is tired she will curl up in my lap and pull the neck of my shirt as low as she can and rub her head on my chest. I find such warmth in that.

  • Jessica Gowing

    I never comment on these things… But this got to my heart. My sweet girl is 11 months old and as my first she has this incredible grip on my heart. I’ve feared the idea of weaning even through sleepless nights, struggles of low supply, and my teething biter. There is nothing more special than this bond.

  • Lee

    Thank You!!! For all of us who have been there.. and still miss those moments. I have done many things in my life and feel in my heart that I have accomplished much of which was important to me. Although it is in the past now, the 9 years of my life that I spent breastfeeding, holding, loving and simply breathing in the scent of my three little boys will always and forever be a highlight of my life Proud to be a breastfeeding Momma !!!!!

  • Jessica Lillard

    Sarah! I LOVED breastfeeding my boy. This gave me happy, fond tears of those precious 8 months that I hold so dear. Lord willing I’ll have another baby to nurse one day.

  • Lisa

    Totally made me ball my eyes out:(