This photographer beautifully captures the last time she nursed her daughter. It can be a heartbreaking moment for a lot of moms - wanting to soak in every second of that last time, not even sure if the last time is the last time, knowing that part of your nurturing is ending and that you and your baby are always, continually moving forward.
With my first child, I got pregnant when she was about 5 or 6 months old (oops) and went back to work full-time the next month (ugh). I pumped at work half-heartedly. I didn’t like pumping at work, it was so awkward. Heck, I didn’t like pumping at home, either. Also awkward. Eventually I just quit pumping, I got more pregnant, and my daughter spent more time away from me than with me. One day when she was around 9 months old, I offered to nurse her… and she refused. I joke that she rejected me, but now that she’s a ginormous 3-year-old who can count, do “crazy trust falls”, put on her own clothes, and speak her mind (often, and loudly), the abrupt end of our breastfeeding relationship breaks my heart. I wish I had seen it coming so I could have done something to prolong it - maybe I could have pumped more? Quit my job? Who knows.
My second child, on the other hand, would have nursed forever. I chose to end our breastfeeding relationship when she was just shy of her second birthday. I remember those final nursing sessions, the intensity and range of my emotions: Impatience. I was ready to be done nursing. Tenderness. I didn’t want her to grow up all of a sudden. Dread. I didn’t want the last time to be the last time yet. Quiet. I would try to nurse her in an otherwise empty room, so I could focus on her little hands, her hair, her closeness. Pain. She was a scratcher, a biter, and was on and off constantly because she was a busy toddler who couldn’t be bothered to sit still and nurse for a full session. Distraction. I had another child to tend to, and a million things to do. Pressure. I heard some negativity from someone close to me about how old my nursing child was. My head and heart were overflowing every time she nursed towards the end.
I try to be conscious of being emotionally and physically connected with my children now that no one is nursing anymore. I have had to work hard at staying close to them without the ease and immediacy of breastfeeding. But I am happy with my decision to stop nursing my younger child, and wistful about the end of my older child’s breastfeeding. There’s truly a lot that goes into it, and into every other milestone you cross together - be it weaning from breastfeeding, bottles, or pacifiers, learning to walk and talk, navigating daycare, work, and playdates, and that's just the early years. I do want you to remember that though you and your child/children are always and continually moving forward, you’re doing it together.