I’m sad today. I feel like my little guy is officially no longer a baby and it’s kind of breaking my heart. Is it the fact that he’s now walking? Saying “hi,” “bye,” and “uh-oh”? Eating any and everything? The owner of eight teeth that makes me feel this way?
I felt a pang each time he accomplished those things. I was so happy and proud of him, but also sad at the things we were leaving behind. But they didn’t feel like the official end to his babydom.
Today we breastfed for the last time. And I’m heartbroken.
Pre-baby I never had any thoughts about breastfeeding one-way or the other, but as soon as I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to. So I read books, I researched it online, I talked to friends who had done it, I took a class.
And what I read and learned each and every time is that breastfeeding is hard! Some babies can’t latch on or it hurts or the mother doesn’t make enough milk or you can get an infection. Or, or, or. The list seemed to go on and on.
So I decided to go into with mini-goals. Instead of saying emphatically that I was breastfeeding for a year as all of the medical professionals and lactation consultants recommend, I decided to aim for the first three months and then we could re-evaluate.
And then Little Ricky was born. They placed him in my arms and he latched on. The nurse came over to explain what I needed to do and said, “okay, so you’re going to want to ... oh, never mind. He’s got it.”
I was so lucky. I had a baby who just knew what to do. It never really hurt me, I always had enough milk for him (except for the first night he was home from the hospital). He wasn’t picky about where his milk came from, bottle or me, so we never had any difficulty getting him fed if I wasn’t around. I know I was lucky! There are tons of women who want to breastfeed and for any number of reasons can’t, so I did not take the ease that Little Ricky and I did this for granted.
Three months rolled around and other than being tired from getting up to feed him a few times a night we were still moving along smoothly. So I gave myself another three months.
At six months, still tired, but still easy, so I said I’d re-evaluate at nine months.
Nine months came and went and I didn’t even remember that I was going to re-evaluate. Little Ricky had dropped down to four feedings a day, he was sleeping through the night, life was good.
And then he turned one. I had always had it in my mind that one year was the big goal and we had made it. We were down to just breastfeeding in the morning when Little Ricky woke up. He had moved on to (organic) cow’s milk for every other meal, which he loved. He wiggled and squirmed through most morning’s nursing.
But I wasn’t (emotionally) ready. Breastfeeding Little Ricky is the most natural, beautiful thing I’ve ever done in my life. So we hung on another couple of months. Him nursing, then sitting up to pat my face, nursing a few minutes, rolling over to check something on the floor, nursing a few minutes, playing with his toes, nursing a few minutes, pinching my nose or pulling my hair.
They weren’t the calmest times but I loved them. Because in between the pinching and the patting and the rolling there would be these moments where I looked at his sweet face, the way his eyelashes fell against his cheek, the way his little mouth worked as he drank and I could see that baby that they handed me in the hospital. I would stroke his cheek and hair and play with his toes and for those few moments everything was right and perfect in our little world.
And here we are at fourteen months and one week. I have made it far longer and loved it much more than I ever expected to. But Little Ricky is done. He’d rather have his sippy cup and play with his toys. And that’s how it should be.
So this morning I sat down with him for one last time. I stroked his cheek and hair and I played with his toes and when he rolled off of my lap to go play I said to him as I have almost every other morning, “all done.”
And I cried. I know this won’t be the last milestone to make me cry and I’m so grateful for the milestones we’ve had and the ones still to come.
But today I mourn this one.