Today Silvia and I officially finished nursing. I’ll start off by saying that I know there are some, particularly in the most natural circles, who will say I should have gone another year. But I had my reasons for stopping now as apposed to later. And, regardless, there is always someone who will tell you you shoulda, coulda,….and you have to feel good about what you’ve successfully done. I feel great about having breastfed Silvia for over a year. She was exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of her life, at which point I introduced organic cereals, fruits, vegetables and eventually other foods. And over the course of the next 6 months the breast milk she was still getting became less and less important as she started to get nutrients from many other foods. And this morning, as I watched her nibble on her whole grain toast spread with organic cream cheese and pomegranite jelly, and sip on her grass fed cow’s milk, I know she’s well on her way to eating a varied, balanced, healthy diet.
But this isn’t about the food that she’s eating, it’s about how the greatest SIT of all happens when you start nursing.
Nursing seriously might be the hardest part (think back to the pain, the cracked and bleeding nips, the latching issues, the constant worry that he/she isn’t getting enough) of new motherhood. Of course, it is also the greatest joy, greatest bond, and one of the most rewarding parts of being a new mom. [Those joys and the bond can obviously be replaced by others when nursing isn’t possible….I’m passing no judgement here.]
But, because this is about the SIT, afterall, here it is: nursing is the cause of the greatest slowdown of all. When a baby is little, even up to 6 or 8 months, you can lay themdown on a blanket or bouncy seat and get stuff done! As long as her belly is full and her diaper is empty, a tiny baby will happily sleep or sit her way through loads of laundry, showers, dishes, phone calls, emails, and even a few minutes of shut-eye. But when it’s time to nurse, all of that must come to a stop. Sure, you could still find a way to talk on the phone, check emails, and do a number of other chores, and at first I fell victim to the multi-tasking gods who said I could still get stuff done while my new baby suckled her day’s nourishments from my breast. Until one day I realized that these were precious minutes. I didn’t want to waste them, distracted by checking emails on my iphone, googling the endless stream of questions filling my brain, or anything else. I wanted to fully engage in and experience the wonder of this new life growing and changing before my very eyes. So, before long, I started to simply sit while I nursed. Not talk, not watch, not surf, just sit. And in the beginning that meant upwards of 10 hours a day! As the months goes on, the hours spent sitting and nursing decrease but the preciousness of it grows greater. As I nursed Silvia over the past month or two I would stare down at her 1 year old face, so grateful for the gift we had experienced and the bond created as a result. And I found myself grateful, too, for the ability to slowdown that I learned as a result. I think that for the rest of her life and mine I will be able to witness more fully the moments in life because I learned to slow down and simply sit.
Nursing my children (I have 3) was the greatest time in my life. When I weaned each of my children it was the saddest day mixed with some happiness. I knew I would greatly miss the time we had to sit together and be just the two of us. However on the flip side I really was happy because they were entering a phase where indepence could start to grow.
“Little children, from the moment they are weaned, are making their way toward independence.”–Maria Montessori
Kudos to you for all the wonderful gifts you have given your daughter, including breastfeeding. However long, however hard or easy, you shared a beautiful experience! And thank you for sharing your motherhood journey!
My mother-in-law got onto me for going so long with my second child. I went about 1 1/2 years with him and almost 2 years with my daughter. I only lasted 6 months with my 1st child. You know when it’s right for you no matter what anyone else says. I cried with my daughter because I knew this was the last time I would be able to give such care. But I knew it would b alright!
This post made me cry. I’m still nursing my 1 year old, and it’s one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done in life.
Congratulations on a successful year! It’s an enormous accomplishment to stick with it for so long. It becomes a full-time job (on top of your full-time job).
When my first son was first weaned, I was afraid that I’d lose that special bond and one-on-one time with him. And although I wasn’t breast feeding him anymore, I was able to continue nursing him: we still maintained physical contact through snuggling, and we still spend chunks of meaningful time just enjoying each other’s presence. Nursing goes beyond breast feeding for us, and I think for a lot of other moms (and dads), too. It’s a poignant thing, to move from breast to cup, but it’s also sweet and exciting because so much more comes along with it. I’m not eager to get my second son weaned, but I know when the time comes, we’ll still have our special snuggle time together. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the next stage, too.