My name is Mel. I'm Henry's mom, and today was my 1,297th day of breastfeeding my sweet boy. I had always wondered and worried what the *Final Nurse* would be like. I imagined we would mourn and celebrate it together- that we would find a suitable way to mark the occasion - that it would be difficult for him...and for me. I thought about how I might bring it up, assured myself that it would be his decision (as a firm believer in BLW), and started planning it in my mind so I could be ready.
The journey has been filled with obstacles- a C-section, a tongue tie, delay of my milk coming in, weight loss, a heartbreaking week of feeding formula with a syringe, working / pumping / long-distance commuting, illnesses, surgery, and most unexpectedly, his severe asthma- making him prone to frequent respiratory infections and other distress- times during which nursing was his only nourishment for days on end. Above and beyond that, dealing with the lack of normalization around breastfeeding a toddler had its own challenges- looks, unkind words, discrimination, and isolation (even among some mom friends).
I learned a week ago of some new challenges I'm facing that need to be resolved. To take care of this... and myself, I need my body back. It was emotional that the decision was no longer ours, but mine. I struggled with how to tell him, how to explain that this special thing between us would be ending. How to empower him to feel like it was his choice too in some way. How could I lessen this blow?
I told him, "Mommy loves you and you are such a big, grown up boy- you know." He smiled proudly.... "One day soon, you'll be so grown up, you won't need to nurse with mommy... how will that make you feel?" I asked. He looked pensive, and a bit shocked. "Well Mommy, I don't know what I'll do if I'm scared or get hurt... nursing helps me feel better."
(tears). "I know buddy....but maybe you could help me think of other things Mommy could do when that happens to make it better?" I suggested.
"Well- I like hugs and kisses.... and when I fall, you bring me ice or a band-aid and that makes me feel better. But I'm not ready to stop nursing yet"- he announced.
The discussion ended, he nursed, went to sleep and had a normal day at school. Tonight I brought it up again.... I asked him if he had thought about it. I told him we should decide together - sometime in the next few days (when he was ready) when he'd be okay to have a "last nurse". I asked him.... "So buddy... (he's learning numbers)...in how many days would feel right to you?" He looked up at me and said "I think ONE day would be okay".
**Knot in Throat**
"Oh really? So you'd like tomorrow to be your last nurse? Would you like to go celebrate somehow?" I asked him. "No Mommy.... TODAY is the day......I want now to be my last nurse. I'm all grown up now, so I don't need it." He explained with all the confidence in the world.
I felt embarrassed to cry..... here he was... all brave, all certain. And I was fighting back the tears. This thing we had worked on for so long.... was ending.
I told him as he leaned in, "Mommy is so proud of you!"..... He looked up at me, smiled, pointed and said , "No Mommy..... I proud of YOU". Then he latched on one last time, grabbed my hand, closed his eyes and nearly fell asleep. I tucked him in, kissed his sleepy face..... and it was over.
I never thought I would be successful in nursing - certainly not for 3plus years.
I'm grateful for this group, your support and friendship. Your encouragement in the face of the unique and sensitive challenges that come with breastfeeding, and the great humor too.
Nurse on mamas.......and cherish every moment.
I do hope that I will one day have another angel to nourish, comfort, and breastfeed. The world has it so wrong about this special superpower we have. Sending each of you all of my admiration and sisterly respect-