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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