Breastfeeding was one of the most challenging things I have ever done.
It was also one of the most rewarding.
With my oldest son, Sam, my goal was to breastfeed for one year. We made it to 10 months because of supply issues, but I was still incredibly proud.
With my second son, Elliott, I once again set a goal of one year of breastfeeding. But I didn’t want to put pressure on myself. If we made it past the one-year mark, great. If not, that’s OK. I also didn’t have a plan after that, though I knew extended breastfeeding benefits both baby and mom.
I expected it to go similarly to my first experience, but surprisingly, we made it past a year. We just kept going, and we even made it past the two-year mark.
Elliott turned 2 last August.
We finally stopped nursing last month.
I knew it was coming. He nursed less and less, and when he did, it would be for a very short period of time.
Toward the end, I did my best to savor every moment. I'm not sure what the future holds for us and more children, so I just took it all in like it was my last chance.
As any breastfeeding veteran will tell you, it was a tough journey. Through it all, I dealt with mastitis, biting and all kinds of troubles. But it was all worth it.
While a part of me is happy to have my body back, all to myself, I will certainly miss some things about nursing. And while I am excited for the new phases my children are moving into, nursing will be one I will always look back on fondly.
These are the things I miss the most:
1. Gazing into their eyes. There's something about nursing and connecting with your baby. I would stare at my boys, and they'd stare back at me. There was such a look of love and trust during our nursing sessions.
2. Watching them fall asleep. There's honestly nothing better than watching a tired baby fall asleep while nursing. It was just the most adorable thing, and I miss it.
3. Their funny positions. Both of my kids nursed in some crazy positions, because they wanted to keep nursing but also look around and explore the world around them. It wasn't always fun, because sometimes it hurt. But it was always entertaining to watch.
4. Busy hands. This wasn't always pleasant — pulling hair, sticking fingers up your nose or poking your eye — but looking back, it gives me a laugh. I loved when my boys would reach their tiny hands up to touch my face. It was such a simple, beautiful moment.
5. One-on-one time. When Elliott would nurse, it was just the two of us. I'd take him in his room, and we'd sit and nurse in the rocking chair. As he got older, this time was extra special, because it was a time to focus on him without the distractions that come from the short attention span most crazy toddlers have — him included.