Letting go. It is the end of a relationship. It is the end of a special bond between mother and child. The end of moments where your heart swells with so much love, at times it feels as if it might burst from your chest. Weaning is a hard time for me. It is time for them to take flight and grow; yet I desperately want to hold on to them as babies for just one more night.

The hours spent rocking, snuggling, and gazing at their soft, perfect skin. Taking in their sweet smell of freshly bathed hair. Letting go of the times when their warm hands rub my face or hold my hand or twirl my hair. Letting go of being able to provide a comfort beyond any hug or kiss. Letting go of healing any emotional or physical hurt by bringing them to breast. Letting go of easing a cold by nursing. Letting go of sending them off to sleep with a full tummy and a content spirit. Letting go of calming their fussiness with cuddling arms. Letting go of babyhood.
Nursing has been one of the most special times of my life. I cherish the moments I have had with each baby, wrapped in a blanket of love. It was far more than providing the best nutrition. It was a relationship, a bond of love that grew with each nursing. While it did not start out as a magical moment, it has become more dear to my heart than any other part of motherhood. It was so difficult and painful in the begging with Hailey that only my stubborn countenance prevented me from quitting. I was determined to provide her with the best despite the severe pain. I had to bite on something while she nursed and stared at the clock with fierce determination, willing the minutes to go by faster. With time it got better and soon became the most treasured moments I had with her. With each baby the beginning was always rough but I knew if I could just grin and bare it for a few weeks, the effort would be well worth it. When working I would skip lunch so that I could pump to keep my supply up to maintain an exclusively breastfed baby. There was great sacrifice but I was rewarded ten fold.
Now as I hold my last baby my heart aches knowing this time is ending. With Hailey I could hardly wait for my freedom and had her weaned the day she turned one year old. Each tour of duty extended as I realized how fleeting a year really is. Karlie was 14 months old and Katilin was 15 months old. With each of them I was motivated to wean so that I could have a few months of my body being all mine before getting pregnant again and I always knew another baby would bring another year of nursing. However, with Hank, there is no baby in the future. Last night Hank did not want to nurse before bed, nor did he at his afternoon nap today. He is telling me he is ready. Never again will I nurse a baby. While my arms will always be open and ready to hold, they will never hold that magic of nursing.


Courtney said...

How is it that with each baby you look more rested, more beautiful?! Cute pics. I'll have to remember to do those shots too.
I was the same way with Cate as you were with H. So ready to wean. I hope my nursing experiences grow as yours did!

Lacey said...

Oh Katie, I know how hard it is!! Nursing is a magical time. And I know it is sad to end. I am so impressed with how long you nursed all your babies and I love all the pictures!! What a great start you gave all of them!

amanda said...

hope you don't mind...i came to your post from lacey's page...i have a 1-year old (today) boy and was brought to tears with your post as i am dealing with the same feelings right now. beautifully written. :)

Jessica said...

You have put together a beautiful post of words and pictures that so eloquently describe your experience. God made us in an amazing way and it really shows in moments like these!