My son has stopped breastfeeding. My vivacious, smiley, loves all-the-food-in-the-world 12 month old has suddenly decided he does not want to get his milk directly from me. You can tell because of the real tears (real tears, seriously?!) on his face, crying like I’m torturing him as he turns his head away from me over and over again.
My relationship with breastfeeding is complicated and I have to say I’m more than a little surprised to be sad at its end. But here I am, 12 months and 15 days (who’s counting) since this little boy was born, feeling a little panicked that I can’t exactly remember what the moment was like the last time he did feed (yes the app tells me it was yesterday morning at 6:58 am for 4 minutes but what did it feel like??). Was that really the last time? Did I enjoy it enough? Did I read on my phone too much? Did I cherish and honor our special relationship? Don’t I hate words like cherish and honor?? And yet it feels like an important ending to our relationship and while even early on I sort of resented being a glorified moo-cow, somehow, I’m a bit melancholy at losing the role. I secretly thought I’d never even make it to 3 months, or if I was lucky, 6 months, it was just so hard at first.
Weeks and weeks and weeks of very little milk, painful feedings, pumping 6, 7, 8 times a day and night and still having to (sigh) supplement with formula, every 2 hours going through a 45 minute ritual of feed-pump-bottle repeat, over and over again, it was all just so much at first. All the while I mourned the continued loss of autonomy, of freedom, that after nearly 10 months of pregnancy, I could still not drink a beer without feeling guilty.
But then it got better. And we got better. And I wasn’t just a glorified moo-cow, I was a mother. And I fed my child and I played with my child and I danced with my child and I laughed with him and I have watched him grow into a pretty hilarious, fantastic human being so far. I am more than just a source of nutrition for this little baby, something that has been a much murkier issue for me than I realized. So thanks kid, I’m gonna grab a cold one, or three, and cheers your entrance into toddlerhood, the moo-cow is going to pasture.
Kelly Powers-Hamp is remembering how to be a human being after a year of figuring out this new role of motherhood. A native Chicagoan, she is a working legal professional, devoted wife and friend, as well as a fierce mother to a one-year-old with no sense of self-preservation and endless curiosity. She is much more than breakfast for the baby.