As with everything in this motherhood journey, I am once again experiencing two conflicting emotions with the end of one chapter and the start of another. When I was pregnant with Everly the one thing I obsessed over was if I would be 'successful' in my desire to breastfeed her for the first year of her life. I was constantly worried that I wouldn't produce enough milk, that she wouldn't learn to latch, that it would prove to be too painful to endure...etc. Everything about becoming a mom is terrifying. Will I know when I'm having contractions? Will my water break? How bad is it really going to hurt? Will my body make enough milk? Can I keep a baby alive? These are the questions I can bet most pregnant women have while they are nesting and obsessing over registries and nursery decorations. Looking back I can see just how ridiculous it all is to worry so much. In the end the baby is born and it doesn't matter if she was born 'naturally' or via c-section. The baby is fed and it doesn't matter how!
Then it happened, she was here and she latched immediately (however, poorly). Damn did it hurt! Now I'm asking myself a whole new set of ridiculous questions but we pushed through and we learned and we bonded and we grew together. My goal was to nurse her for the first year of her life and then suddenly BOOM - She's a one year old. It's the day of her birthday party and she has only nursed twice all day. And then the following week she barely nursed at all. This was it! My baby was weening herself. She was being so independent about it too! I was proud...but I was sad. It was over.
I wish I knew it was going to be over just like that. I wish I had paid more attention to our last nursing session. I wish I had gathered every moment from that last time and stored them away as memories. I wish I had smelled her head one last time, looked into her eyes one last time, memorized the sound of her breathing. I wish I had taken my time, I wish I hadn't rushed her because family was getting into town and I had 'more important' things to get to. It's true when they say you never know your 'last' with your baby until it's already passed. My baby no longer needs me in that way anymore - and that's good! But gosh, is it bittersweet.
To all of my pregnant friends or friends who have babies that are nursing or still drinking out of bottles in your arms... slow down. Take your time. Take photographs in your mind and store them away. Take actual photographs and videos of you with your babe in this stage. I did and I cherish them so much. Smell their little heads, rub their little cheeks and ears, kiss their little toes. It happens slowly, and then all at once - they aren't so little anymore.
I'm right there with you Mama, feeling every emotion at once.