I have dedicated my body to another human life for the past six years. Trying to conceive, being pregnant, recovering from birth, breastfeeding. Then right back at it again for the second time. This intense and amazing process has blessed me with the two most beautiful boys this world has to offer. (I am biased, I know).
But it has taken a toll on me. On my body. On my self-confidence.
Starting to wean my last child from breastfeeding feels like the end of an era. I am very emotional about it. It's hard to fathom that this is something I will never, ever, have the opportunity to do again. Because it has truly been one of the greatest honors of my life.
But even though it's sad and a bit overwhelming, I am ready. Really ready.
Lately, as I sit in the dark, in the middle of the night, I let my mind wander. Utterly exhausted, nursing my baby to sleep, I think of all the things I will gain back...
I am ready to claim my body back as mine.
I am ready to go braless, even if it's just to sleep at night.
I am ready to no longer leak through every bra, shirt and sheet I own.
I am ready to get back to the gym, without two sports bras and leak preventing pads.
I am ready to be able to leave the house for more than 3-hour increments.
I am ready to have someone else take on some of the middle of the night feedings (sorry, darling).
I am ready to go to my closet and pick out anything I want to wear, without having to consider whether or not it will be easy enough to nurse in public in.
I am ready to no longer be attached to my breast pump (literally and figuratively).
I am ready to never, ever, ever wash another pumping part again.
I am ready to not feel like I am constantly hunched over.
I am ready to no longer feel the pain of engorgement.
I am ready to no longer feel like a 24/7 milk-only diner.
I am ready to no longer have to whip out my breast at a moment's notice in a restaurant, on an airplane, in the middle of a crowded farmers market.
But, with each newfound freedom, or return to my old self, comes a sense of loss for each of the beautiful memories this part of my motherhood journey has given me.
Never again will I be the sole lifeline for my boys.
Never again will I be able to produce food from my body.
Never again will I be part of the strong squad of breastfeeding mamas.
Never again will I feel the way my son fits perfectly across my lap, all curled up as he eats.
Never again will I glance down and see his tiny yet chubby hand holding the top of my shirt.
Never again will I see him pop off my breast, still sucking mid-air, as he drifts off to sleep.
Never again will I be able to soothe him as he wakes from a night terror, just by nursing.
I know with each day that passes, it's one day closer to my "freedom." But at the same time, one less day that I will get to share this type of bond with my son.
So instead of daydreaming in the middle of a feeding, I now take pictures—both with my phone and with my mind. Of all the tiny details. Of his sweet lips, long eyelashes, his chubby hands.
I am trying to sear into my brain this remarkable experience. Because in a flash, it will be over. And so goes motherhood... From one stage, you go right onto the next. Each is equally beautiful and difficult in its own right.
But this part of the journey? This stage has been pretty special, and one I will never forget.