Confessions of a formerly nursing mom

Don’t hate me for this, but breastfeeding was actually one of the easiest things about having a new baby. I realize this isn’t the case for most first-time moms out there, and I’m incredibly grateful that it was such a breeze for us. 

TMI warning: my milk came in while still in the hospital and we had a great lactation consultant to help us get started. After the initial discomfort wore off – and wow, was that an unexpected and very painful part of the process – we settled into a lovely routine.

I loved nursing, I really did. I loved caring for my daughter in that way. I fully realize it isn’t an option for everyone, and I have no judgement. I’m just thankful it worked so well in our case. So well, in fact, that my girl never took to a bottle, and we never had to force the issue.

So I nursed. I was never apart from her for more than a couple hours to ensure she didn’t have to go without or have an empty belly. I nursed her to sleep, because she was not a good sleeper and that worked for us.

Well, for a while. Eventually it became exhausting. I never had a break from the feeding and nighttime routine. Though I still enjoyed the feeling of her falling asleep on my lap, I was ready to move on to the next stage. I started plotting a weaning strategy.

But then I became pregnant again, and my supply tanked. I was devastated, actually. No longer was phasing out nursing on my timetable, it was forced upon us. I felt awful that I suddenly could no longer provide comfort or nourishment on demand. We dropped to nursing just before naps and bedtime, and even that became uncomfortable and frustrating.

I soon realized the supply drop was probably the best thing that could have happened. I had such a hard time denying my daughter what she wanted, but before too long what she wanted was simply not available.

It’s been about a month since we last nursed, and I am loving it. I didn’t even expect to breastfeed as long as I did, so I’m thankful for the time we had. But I’m over it, and oh so grateful for a reprieve before our next baby arrives.

I don’t have to plan our outings around feeding times. I don’t have to choose my clothes based on how easy it is to nurse in them. I don’t have to worry about my girl suddenly grabbing at my chest while in public. I don’t have to wonder what people think about me still nursing a child beyond a year old. I’m not the only one who can get this girl to sleep. I’m not the only one who can be sure she has a full stomach.

You know what this is, my friends? This is freedom. Sure, she’s still a crazed momma’s girl who wants me all the time. But now I can have an evening with friends and not feel guilty. I can leave her with a babysitter and not feel anxious. I can enjoy cuddles without wondering when she’ll start trying to pull my shirt down.

And maybe best of all: she sleeps through the night! I’m not kidding, this kid still woke up at night and wanted to nurse almost right up until she was fully weaned.

I’m looking forward to nursing our next baby; I am. But I have a better idea of what to expect from the process now, and a slightly more educated plan for when and how long to keep it up.

Cheryl Hazelton
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