10 Things to Savor About Breastfeeding

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breastfeeding

I have been very lucky. I have had the choice to breastfeed all of my children. Not everyone has the choice; not everyone wants the choice. But, though I have had my own share of hurdles in the adventure that is motherhood, nursing is something that has been relatively easy and effortless for me. Not painless, mind you, but mostly free from the trials that some women face.

Some days, I need to remember why I choose to breastfeed at all. Those are the days when I feel like if another tiny human touches me again, I might scream. They are the days when my breasts are sore and cry out for a week without a bra on 24/7 or any sucking action whatsoever, whether by baby or pump. Some days, I would do anything in my power just to wear a normal Le Mystere instead of my saggy, uncomfortable nursing bra.

But I know that in another six months, when I am beginning to wean my very last baby, I won’t remember the gruesome details so much. The experience will already be part of my memories, and after four babies, my memory itself is unreliable. I have approximately two brain cells left now, I am convinced, and they are needed in their entirety to walk straight and drive the car. So before the Mommy Amnesia sets in, here are ten things I will miss about nursing my babies, though please note that these things are not breastfeeding-exclusive. They just happen to be the things I think of when I think about nursing…

1. The quiet moments of nursing, the forced time to sit and be still. As a parent, stillness is not only rare; it is luxurious. I savor the time I can claim just to sit or lie down with the baby and be together, focused on her. After four babies, I have mastered the art of walking while nursing, but I try not to practice that skill. The chance to hit the “pause” button — even now, when it is definitely complicated to do so in the midst of three other children and the rush of daily life — is too precious.

2. Lying beside the baby and feeling her little feet and tiny toes flex rhythmically against my stomach or leg while she nurses. I love those dainty toes connecting with me. Too soon, her body will be long and lanky, like her brothers’. She won’t be the chunky ball of wonderful rolls and curves that she is now. I bury my face in her sweet cheeks and scrumptious neck while I still can.

3. Bright eyes looking up at me, and the way she stops and stares at me quizzically all of a sudden, like she just noticed I was there too. It takes her so by surprise that she stops nursing for a moment and just looks at me, locking my eyes with hers. When she was tiny, she stared for a second, then continued to nurse, though slowly, like she was taking me all in or making sure that I was something she was okay with having right above her head. Now that she is older, she will stop, pause, and sometimes break into a big, milky, gummy smile. It is tough to hold a latch when smiling. Those gummy smiles are the sweetest.

4. The chance to stroke soft little cheeks and tufted wisps of baby hair, the smell of soap and milk together.

5. The baby sometimes balls her fists up and holds them so they are together, as if this act of nursing takes all her concentration and might.

6. When those teeny-tiny hands stroke and fidget while she nurses. She loves me, and she doesn’t even know what love is yet.

7. The way she bobs her head from side to side when she is preparing to latch, stretching her lips and wildly searching for her target like a baby animal. It’s a little scary seeing that coming for my breasts, but it’s also cute.

8. Dozing off beside a nursing baby, waking up to a baby asleep with her chin on my breast. In a few short years, will that little face really tell me in a fit of anger that I’m not her best friend anymore, like her brothers did? How will I ever send that face off to Kindergarten to be cared for someone else for the majority of her waking hours?

9. The feeling of being her homebase. There is not much in a baby’s world that cannot be solved or soothed by nursing. In so much of parenting, I feel a little helpless. In contrast, nursing is like holding a superpower. I know that as time marches on, my baby’s little problems will become the bigger problems of bigger kids. I know too well. I’ll miss the ability to create world peace for her with just a simple gesture.

10. Most of all, the baby I am nursing. In no time at all, she’ll be running after her brothers and leaving me behind. I’ll get to wear my proper bra and drink a beer guilt-free, and my breasts will dry up and once again look like tube socks half-filled with uncooked rice. But I will never have my baby back again. And that will be all right and as it should be, but that does not mean I won’t miss her.

Comments

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  1. 2

    Nicole(Whole Strides) says

    This is so true. Breastfeeding was incredibly hard for me and was never anything but challenging. But now, with some time between me and those experiences, I remember it fondly. I’m a little sad that it’s something I’ll never get to experience again. It’s a really special thing to be your baby’s one something. I share parenting, I share the role of teaching and guiding, but breastfeeding was all mine.

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  2. 3

    Marybeth says

    “I have approximately two brain cells left now, I am convinced, and they are needed in their entirety to walk straight and drive the car.” Nearly died laughing!!!!! I can relate.

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  3. 4

    jennifer says

    I was watching my 5 year old son the other day and a smile broke out on my face as I teared up a little. My most precious memory is that of him nursing. He would pause, and stare up at me. When Ispoke to him he would smile that “gummy, milky, oh so sweet smile” and I would melt. I still do at the memory….

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  4. 6

    My Half Assed Life says

    I nursed both of mine and when it goes well? It’s heaven. I have never napped so well as when I had a baby at breast. The forced calmness that becomes genuine relaxation. The squirmy toes. And those long deep looks – as if they are studying you. You really brought that back to me. Thank you.

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  5. 9

    MILF Runner says

    I finally weaned my youngest last summer. This was a lovely and poignant trip down Memory Lane for me – thank you so much. After over a dozen years of nonstop nursing, I could relate to each and every part of this – love it :)

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  6. 10

    Aubrey says

    I read this with tears streaming down my face. I nursed all three of my kids – my twins until they weaned themselves at 12 months, and my son until I was forced to wean him at 10 months when I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and had to start aggressive medical treatment. Looking back 4 years later, I can still honestly say that was the hardest part of the diagnosis process. I knew he was my last and I had planned on nursing him as long as I could so weaning him early was devastating. Every one of the things listed here are things that I miss so much. He’ll turn 5 next month. He starts Kindergarten in the Fall. He’s officially no longer a baby. But I’ll always have those memories, even if I didn’t get them for as long as I wanted them.

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  7. 11

    Jenny says

    I had to look away several times while reading this, to collect myself. I have such fond memories of nursing my babies. It was, for me, one of the most exquisite bonding experiences of motherhood. It makes me sad to know that I will never do it again.

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  8. 13

    Zippo says

    This makes me really hope I can nurse my next babies… I ended up pumping exclusively for my first, and I felt none of these things for that cursed machine, I can tell you!

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  9. 16

    buffi says

    My youngest (of three) is nearly 10 years old now. I LOVED nursing my babies so much. People wondered out loud if I would ever stop nursing my last. He was 2 1/2. I still miss all of that so much. Savor it while you can!

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  10. 17

    Stephanie @Mommy, for real says

    I am preparing to wean my youngest this month, at 16 months old, and this post reminded me why this is so bittersweet. Number nine really resonated with me. Beautiful!

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  11. 18

    Amelia says

    I have never commented here before but this made me cry. My nine month old is starting to lose interest in nursing and I’m already starting to miss everything on your list.

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  12. 19

    Melissa Lawrence says

    Wonderful post — I love your writing. It made me cry. I didn’t want to stop breastfeeding my last baby and I still miss it — I miss that intimacy and being able to shut out the world and just be at peace with my little baby. Thank you for writing this. Melissa

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  13. 20

    Alexis says

    Your post should be retitled:
    “10 Things to Savor About Feeding if You’re a Mom.”
    Not a single thing in your top 10 was unique to breastfeeding moms
    Everything you wrote is what formula-feeding moms rank as their top 10 too.
    That was your top 10 while breast-feeding.
    Those were my top 10 formula-feeding.
    *I’m sure this post was not in anyway meant to be divisive.*
    I’m just saying breast feeding have much more in common than breast feeders would ever like to admit.

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