A Breastfeeding Journey: The Middle of the End

“I’ve been melted into something too easy to spill. I make more and more of myself in order to make more and more of the baby. He takes it, this making. And somehow he’s made more of me, too.” Brenda Shaughnessy

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It’s the middle of the end.

The beginning of the end was probably a few months ago when I started full time work and (occasional) over night visits with the boys dad. But this week I realized, it’s definitely the middle of the end. And I feel a little sad about it.

We never really know when it’s going to be the last time we do something until it’s over. Then suddenly we realize, “Oh my gosh! That was it.” Luckily, I do not believe my breastfeeding relationship with Luke is completely over, but it’s certainly slowing down, and possibly coming to an end faster than I expected.

Breastfeeding becomes much more challenging when you suddenly go from 24/7 service to being away from your child a minimum of 50 hours a week, and an occasional entire weekend. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been able to maintain pumping at least once during the day while I’m at work. When the boys are gone from me over night, I pump as often as I can, and through that, I was able to maintain a small stash of breastmilk for when Luke and I were apart.

Lately, I have been unsuccessful in the pumping department. I’ve wasted countless hours of accumulated time sitting hooked up to a pump with no milk to show for it, if I find time to pump at all. Luckily, Luke is almost 16 months old and drinks other things. Breastmilk is really just a bonus for him at this point, but it’s still sad to not only have no stash left, but also to not be able to produce one like I once was.

It’s like the end of an era.

Additionally, I am aware that boob size does not equate to milk production, but here lately, my boobs seem to be shriveling even faster than my milk supply. Between breastfeeding and working out, these suckers are like the incredible shrinking appendages. They’re like deflated balloons attached to my chest. Thankfully, despite their miniscule size and my lack of pumping success, Luke has had no problems getting milk when he nurses…most of the time.

“Nursing does not diminish the beauty of a woman’s breasts; it enhances their charm by making them look lived in and happy.” Robert A. Heinlein

One day this week, amidst chaos and running late and bad moods, I ran around like a frantic chicken with my head cut off, with a 26 pound baby clinging desperately to my body as he tried to enjoy some breakfast while I gathered myself and his brothers for the day ahead. After 25 minutes of attempted multi-tasking and still no signs of my body understanding its mission for the morning, I gave up and sat down. I relaxed and convinced myself to “go with the flow,” willing my body to not fail me and my son on this day.

After a total of about 45 minutes, there was finally success! I was relieved and thankful that my body eventually did its job, but I was certainly not impressed with its performance.

Underneath my rushing and franticism and stress, I felt the twinge of sadness that comes with the realization that maybe my 2 year nursing goal is not going to be possible.

It’s not over til it’s over, and we have still managed to succeed at least in the morning and the evening each day; but it appears my body is struggling to keep up. Luckily Luke isn’t so much in it for the milk any more and seems content enough to just be close to his mama, so I’m cool. But it is one more reminder that my baby is growing up and pretty soon, one of these nursing sessions will be my last.

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When that day comes, I will have to release my son into toddlerhood knowing my body served him well and it’s time to move onto another stage. I had hoped we would make it to 2 years, and who knows, maybe we will. But it does seem that this is the middle of the end.

In some ways, I’m excited to have my boobs back, what little there is left. I’m kind of looking forward to not having anyone dangling from my chest in the middle of the night like a wild koala bear, and the potential for actual uninterrupted sleep for longer than 5 hours at a time.

But I am also sad to lose it.

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I’ve been nursing one or more babies almost continuously for the last 2 and 3/4 years of my life. I’m honestly not sure how to function when there isn’t a need for a nursing break. How in the world am I going to get Luke to sleep when I lose the magical life giving power of my boobs??? At some point pretty soon here, I’m going to have to realize that he is a big boy like his brothers and is no longer my little baby. He’s becoming more and more independent and my boobs are no longer the center of his world. They’ve done their call of duty and apparently, my body is thinking it’s about time to call in the troops.

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Our first latch.

There is nothing like the bond between a mother and her babies. All mothers and their babies, whether breastfed or not. But nursing has strengthened that bond for me and has been something I have absolutely loved. I’m not ready to let it go completely. Thankfully, neither is Luke and I think we still have some time despite my body’s recent push back.

I am so grateful for our nursing journey and am trusting my body to adjust accordingly as we continue. But I am acutely aware that while this is not the end, it is the middle of the end, and it’s a bitter sweet feeling.

So for now, I will just enjoy however much time is left of this nursing relationship. I’ll breathe him in and appreciate each time his tiny body wraps around mine as he melts into me, knowing that even when this part of our journey ends, a million other things are just beginning.

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19 thoughts on “A Breastfeeding Journey: The Middle of the End

  1. It is really is so bittersweet as they outgrow stages. For various reasons, I didn’t get to nurse my older three, so, when Davy latched on like a champ, it was such a thrill. There were those tired times of feeling much in demand, but there was such a sweet closeness as well. Keep enjoying every moment, every stage. They go quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I’m so glad you got to experience nursing your youngest. It is such a beautiful thing and I am going to miss it desperately when its gone for good… Thankfully, he seems to have regained more interest and we are still going fairly strong, so maybe I have longer left than I thought! 🙂

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  2. I’m right there with you! I’m just trying to enjoy every second of mine and my sons nursing relationship. Because we could potentially be done any day. All of your photos are so sweet! I only have one photo of myself nursing because I’m a chicken. Good luck! We can support each other as this time in our lives come to an end!

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    • Oh absolutely Tarynn!! Take some pictures while it lasts, even if they’re just for yourself. That really is who they’re for, but then you will have picture evidence of such a special bond. I love seeing pictures of my mom nursing us… There aren’t many, but they are so cool! He’s actually hanging on more than I thought so maybe the days aren’t as numbered as I thought, but yes, I am loving each and every time I get to nurse this wild nugget! It goes so fast. I’m glad we can support each other through this bitter sweet time of growing up that our babies insist on doing!

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  3. I’m sad to read that you may have to stop sooner than expected. I’m glad that you see it’s the end ahead of time andcan cherish what time you have left to nurse him. Its amazing what our bodies can do and such an amazing thing that you have done for your son. I hope you have wonderful times snuggling with him in the weeks ahead. 🙂

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    • Oh thank you Ashley!! That is sweet! I’m happy to report he seems to be happily nursing and maybe it’s not ending as fast as I thought; but I am still cherishing each time because you never know when it will suddenly be the last! I’m still aiming for 2 years though if my body will not shut down the factory! haha

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  4. I really loved reading this. Enjoy it and embrace it 🙂
    As I wrote before my son self weaned at 11 months, since then I cuddled, layed next to him, patted his back and be in his room until he fell asleep. Tonight I feel lost, he kept standing up and just not interested to going to sleep. So I left, he didn’t cry, he was happily entertaining himself and after 10 minutes got himself to sleep.. It’s sometimes hard to acknowledge that they’re growing up. Sigh. Are we ever ready for it?

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    • Aww… I don’t think we are ever ready. It really is so bitter sweet, and each stage has beautiful things about it, but it is hard to let go of these sweet and precious little moments. Although I’m sure we will have them forever, they’re just going to be different as they get older. Too bad we can’t bottle them in their youth and keep them forever that way haha

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  5. I agree- the bond does deepen when you breastfeed. I nursed both of my boys- 10 months with boy #1 and 14 months with boy #2. It is sad when you know its coming to an end. Take pride in that you gave your son the best possible nutritious start in life! And enjoy having your boobs back- run out and buy a new pretty bra 🙂

    http://madcraftingmama.blogspot.ca/

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    • Haha great idea… Do you think they sell really beautiful training bras? Because that’s about the size these tiny tat as are now!! LOL, totally worth it though. I wouldn’t trade nursing my boys for anything in this world!!

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