Let me confess straight off: Breastfeeding is “meh” for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m quite a fan of nursing for as long you can, because it’s cheap, there are nutritional benefits, insert other positive scientifically-based statements about breastfeeding here. I believe all that, I really do.
BUT so many people and websites go on and on about how wonderful it feels to nurse, how they feel relaxed and happy, how they look down into their child’s eyes and feel a loving, unbreakable bond as the baby literally sucks nutrients from their body, and I’m like, “You feel what now?”
It’s not that I hate nursing but am too poor to buy formula, or whatever other people might assume. It’s just that for me, nursing is…a thing that I do. A natural bodily function, like breathing or walking or whatnot. It does not feel special, or wonderful, or even out of the ordinary. My baby is hungry, so I put him or her to my breast and then read or putz around online while he or she nurses. That’s all there is to it.
When my daughter was fifteen months old, I discovered I was pregnant again. Pregnancy has never been kind to me and the first trimester is the worst. I got terrible migraines and swallowing pills whole made me barf, so I often sent my husband on nighttime runs to the store to pick up boxes and boxes of kid’s chewable Tylenol for me. On weekends I would sleep for 13 hours straight and wake up still exhausted. When I did throw up my face would be covered in bright red broken blood vessels that even makeup couldn’t cover up. And this time, the symptoms of the first trimester lasted long into the second trimester, too.
You might imagine how difficult it was for me to nurse during this time. I hated it. I may have been fairly apathetic about nursing before but the last thing I wanted to do while feeling utterly horrible was nurse another child. Luckily, my daughter has always been an excellent eater and was eating nearly everything we gave her, so I wasn’t overly concerned about her nutrition. And since she was more mobile and interested in the world around, she would nurse a few minutes and then run off to explore, instead of embarking on the marathon nursing sessions she loved when she was younger. It was easier, but not very fun.
When she was nineteen months old, I was four months pregnant. This particular day I had noticed she’d been nursing even less than usual all week; she’d latch for a couple of moments and then wander off. I wondered if my milk had changed enough that she didn’t find it very tasty anymore. So the next time she came up to me and piped up, “More mak!” I stood up and said, “Okay. Let’s try milk from the refrigerator!” I poured some whole milk into her sippy cup, and she sucked down the entire cup with wide, happy eyes.
And that was it. She weaned right then, no fuss, no warning, did not even try to nurse for the next few days. One day she came up to me and pulled up my shirt but only looked for a while before running back off to play. I had it easy weaning her. I wasn’t expecting it to be so easy and I know I was incredibly lucky that it was fuss-free.
But boy, was I happy. I had five months of not nursing before having to start it up again. There was absolutely no longing or feelings of loss once she stopped. I mention this because I think a lot of people talk about how sad they were to lose the nursing relationship, however I want people to know that it’s definitely okay to feel relief as well. No relationship is solely puppies and rainbows, and that goes for the nursing relationship too. I was glad to end that relationship with my daughter and have time to move on to a different mother-toddler relationship with her before beginning the nursing relationship with my newborn son.