Little Man’s wail filled the hospital room as the nurse placed him in my arms. A couple hours later, he snuggled up to me to nurse for the first time. We had our challenges, but a lip and tongue tie reversal later, he became an expert nursling.
So expert that he woke every forty-five minutes to nurse.
Even at night. For the first few months of his life. By his first birthday, exhaustion and co-sleeping had become part of my life. I didn’t think we’d ever stop nursing. While I loved our sweet cuddles, I reached a point where I felt emotionally and physically drained. All the time.
He stopped nursing during the day–and I loved it.
I still nursed him to sleep and when he woke at night so we still had our sweet moments. Then, I stopped nursing him to sleep. He started falling asleep on his own.
Then, slowly our nurse sessions dwindled.
In those wakeful moments during the middle of the night, we continued to nurse. I wanted more shut-eye, but all he wanted was me.
As we planned our first weekend getaway since the kids were born, I knew it was time. I’d grown to hate nursing. The morning before we left, I cuddled my son for one last time. I soaked in those last moments. He held my hand, and I kissed his cheek. Then, he sidled down off my lap and took off for the truck he’d left on the floor of our living room.
I shed a tear or two, but I knew it was right. We’d made it twenty-two months, longer than I ever thought possible.
When we returned from our vacation, I couldn’t wait to hold him, but I feared his response. What would I do if he started crying desperately to nurse? Could I really say no?
I took him in my arms and he beamed up at me. I cuddled him close. Just like the day before, he sidled out of my arms and ran. Through the next week, he asked to nurse here or there, but he didn’t cry when I said no.
I gained my freedom. And yet, it was bittersweet.
Like a light switch, he started sleeping longer stretches at night. I’ll admit I’m a soda-addict so maybe, it’s because there was no longer any caffeine in his system, but I also think he doesn’t have anything to wake up for anymore.
I love the extra sleep. He’s learning to put himself back to sleep, something he’d always done at my breast.
However, while on our anniversary trip, we realized that many of my chronic pain problems were minimized by a good night sleep. I reluctantly (and enthusiastically) handed nights for to my husband.
Bittersweet. I love that he’s sleeping longer, but I miss our nighttime cuddles.
Bittersweet. I love watching Little Man grow into his own little person who runs and plays and laughs, but I miss my little baby.
Bittersweet, because I’m no longer connected to him in the same way. But I’m still connected. Just like I’m connected to my daughter even though she never nursed.
I’m soaking in these days with a four-year-old daughters who’s learning to read, write, and count. I’m soaking in these moments with an almost two-year-old who doesn’t stop from the moment he wakes to the moment he crashes.