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.
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.