I’ve known this day was coming since I nursed my first baby nearly 15 years ago.
But let’s not pull out the Kleenex just yet. Mama has some reminiscing to do.
Fifteen (almost) years ago I became a mom for the first time. Those first few weeks of nursing had me a Lansinoh drip away from quitting on the breastfeeding gig. I was in so much pain and feeling so unsure of myself. My husband stepped in and told me I was a rock star. Then, two dear friends came to my aid and helped me work through all the hardships of learning the delicate mother-child nursing dance.
I mean, to have only been bitten less than a dozen times after 7 years and 5 months of nursing babies? Unbelievable. We’ve suffered through gall bladder and knee surgeries, broken bones, blocked milk ducts, yeast infections,hospitalizations, near death and more. I’ve nursed in airports, churches, Disney World, bathrooms, hospitals, emergency rooms, offices, every retail store you can think of, park benches, national parks and memorials, funerals, weddings, baptisms, restaurants, cross country meets, movies, flag football games, soccer tournaments, baseball playoffs, Aggie football, in a van (possibly down by the river) and everywhere in between.
I started as a nervous mom who hid in the church bathroom stall, to a semi-confident mom with a fancy nursing cover, to a scared NICU mom bottle feeding that liquid gold and finally to full-fledged confident mama nursing on the front row of church during First Communion.
Other people have praised me, belittled me, hugged me, encouraged me, embarrassed me and inspired me because I chose to nurse my children in public.
All those years of nursing taught me so much about advocacy, acceptance, pain, suffering, confidence and love.
But none of those years prepared me for the day when I would nurse my last child. Ever. I mean, yes, God has a sense of humor (I’ve seen it!) and another baby could grace our home. But, I’m nearing 42 and I realize my nursing days may officially be over.
To be honest, I don’t really know how I feel about it. There is sadness, fondness, elation and relief, but above them all? Gratitude. Gratitude that I’ve been willing and able to nurse so many beautiful babies to their first birthdays, and some beyond. Gratitude that just days before she weaned, Gianna let one of my favorite photographers capture photos of that beauty.
I’ve spent a total of 143 months either growing life or nurturing it. My babies and I have shared more than 15,000 nursing sessions. That may be the definition of blessed beyond measure.
With my sixth baby, I decided to let her tell me when she was going to call it quits. That little stinker latched on, then came right off, looked at me and smiled. Every time I tried to get her latched on, she did it again. I kept trying, she kept smiling.
So as we closed the door on this chapter, it wasn’t the door slam I feared. No, it was the quiet, slow, gradual closing of a most precious moment. Months and years filled with my most beloved memories, quietly tucked away for me to remember. For me to cherish.
To all my sweet babies, thank you. Thank you for giving me such great prayer time, such loving memories and a sweetness I will carry with me for a lifetime.
On to the next chapter of motherhood…
As an important p.s. to this post, my deepest gratitude to Leilani and her awesome PBAP initiative (Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project) for capturing many of the photos you see above. To say I’ll cherish them for a lifetime? Well, that doesn’t even scratch the surface. The most recent photos were taken just days before Gianna weaned in our home church. Under a beautiful beam of sunlight, to boot. It’s as if she knew how important they would be to her mama. Feed the babies, y’all!