The early weeks of breastfeeding are exhausting—but fleeting

One day you'll need more than breastmilk to comfort you. One day I'll need to carry snacks and water everywhere we go. One day you'll toss and turn at night and for whatever reason, nursing you to sleep won't work its magic as it does now.

The early weeks of breastfeeding are exhausting—but fleeting

To my little nursling,

You are 6 weeks old and I cannot imagine you ever being any different to how you are right now. You are magic and I love you unconditionally.

But, honestly? I am exhausted.

Breastfeeding is exhausting—you seem to want to cluster-feed all the time. You don't like being put down—sometimes you'll fall asleep on my arm only to jolt wide awake the moment I try to move you or pass you to someone else.

But I'm a second-time mom and a seasoned breastfeeder—a nursing veteran, if you will—and I know that this period is fleeting. I know that one day I will miss all of this and wonder how I could have resented even a second of this time together.

I will miss being able to fix anything and everything with milk. When you got your vaccinations you barely made a peep because I was able to nurse you right after and you were comforted by that. When your tongue-tie was cut when you were a month old, you let out an enormous shriek that was instantly muffled as I pulled you towards me to relearn your nursing skills once more.

I will miss you being so portable. I can take you anywhere and never have to worry about you being hungry or thirsty or sad because we have everything we need with us—my breasts for breastmilk.

I'll miss having an excuse to cuddle you all the time. To ignore the chaos of the house around me as you become calm in my arms while you nurse. I will miss the rush of euphoria I feel when I succeed at helping you relax and fall asleep.

I'll miss feeling your tiny body against mine. Your warm, perfect, unblemished skin against my palm as I hold you to my chest. I will miss the feel of your tiny hand on my breast, rather than scratching my face, pulling my hair or tearing at my jewlery—all of that joy comes later! 😂

But soon, I'll miss that too. I'll miss the fingernails on my face as you nurse. The experimental yet excruciating nibbles as your teeth come through.

One day you'll need more than breastmilk to comfort you. One day I'll need to carry snacks and water everywhere we go. One day you'll toss and turn at night and for whatever reason, nursing you to sleep won't work its magic as it does now.

One day you'll have your last drink and I won't realize that it's the last. Perhaps I'll cut the nursing session short because it's late and I need to get ready for work. Perhaps I'll be impatient or get frustrated with you for biting me or pulling on my hair. Perhaps it'll just be a normal, uneventful moment. But the next day, I'll offer you my breast, and you'll say no. The day after that, you'll say no again.

And just like that, our nursing journey will be over.

No more simple solutions. No more immediate comfort when you get your vaccinations. I took your 18-month-old sister to the doctor yesterday and felt helpless as she cried against my chest, the chest she self-weaned from the day before you were born. I wished she still nursed so I could take away her pain and stress.

No more nursing to sleep, nursing past a stuffy nose, nursing on a plane during take-off and landing.

I'll be glad you're growing up, just as I am with your sister. I'll be glad that you were able to nurse for as long as you wanted to, and that together we shared that bond between us. But for now, let me remember to love every time you bob your head up and down on Daddy's chest until he's forced to hand you over to me.

Let me relish the weight of your sleeping body in the crook of my arm, post-feed. Let me find joy in the hours upon hours I spend trapped under your wriggling body, drenched in sweat and milk as you fuss between latches. Let me notice the beauty in all of the mess and boredom and exhaustion that comes with breastfeeding.

Because one day it'll all be gone and I'll wonder how I could have ever resented even a moment of it.

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    To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

    Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

    Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

    And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

    What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

    Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

    In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

    Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

    And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

    For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

    For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

    For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

    I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

    Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

    This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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