As I write this, I am nursing my son late at night after he returned home from a long day at grandma’s. I had a long, busy day too, hosting our annual Friendsgiving, and I had no time to pump during the day. I feel sick to my stomach, headachy and so relieved when he is finally able to latch on and give us both some comfort.
My son will be 11 months old next week. Incredible how time flies. I remember being pregnant thinking, If we’re able to, I’d like to breastfeed for one year, and then I’ll probably want my body back. One year will be perfect. I also remember my attitude about breastfeeding before I got pregnant: what a weird concept. I mean, you’re feeding another human with milk that comes out of your nipples. I thought a year-long goal of breastfeeding sounded generous, finite, and doable.
The snowy, stormy, winter night that Lenny was born our breastfeeding journey began. Minutes after he was born, the nurses placed him on my chest and the first thing he did was root around until he found my breast. Neither one of us knew what we were doing, but we were doing it. I was determined to figure it out together.
By taking breastfeeding day by day, we’ve managed to still be at it. I’m determined to make my year-long goal, but it occurred to me the other day that it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing deal. Even if, after the end of the year, I still feel like I “want my body back,” maybe we can wean during the day and keep our nursing sessions to once in the morning and once before bed. Maybe we cut back to only once a day. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, how we could still breastfeed past the year mark, but cut back a little. I don’t know yet what I’ll decide.
Of course, it also occurred to me that it’s not solely my decision. What if Lenny decided to self-wean before the year was up? He would be ready, but would I? Despite thinking of it as such a foreign act in the beginning, I’ve come to really love breastfeeding and the connection it allows Lenny and I to have. It’s our quiet time, our comfort time and, often, our nap time. Nursing has become as important to me as it is to Lenny. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine our daily routine without it.
Our breastfeeding journey hasn’t been easy. We’ve conquered slow weight gain and supplemental formula feeding by syringe, clogged ducts, the joys of pumping at work,and a lip and tongue tie revision. Yet here we are 11 months later, still going strong. And, for now, there’s no sign of us slowing down. I don’t know when we’ll decide to stop breastfeeding but, just like on that first snowy evening when Lenny was born, I know we will figure it out together.