Breastfeeding can be exhausting, exasperating and seem never ending. I’ve been thinking more about this lately as I've returned to work and am witnessing new babies and families figuring out the early days of breastfeeding. I'm on the other end of my breastfeeding journey now and it's a very different place.
I remember distinctly one day last summer, when my son was 8 months old. He had refused a bottle adamantly since 5 months of age. I wanted just a few hours where I could get away without worrying about whether he was ok or needed me. I’d left him with my mom. When I got back from my time out on the lake my mom was frantic because my son was not going to be soothed and had been screaming for half an hour. I felt bad for my son, but also so frustrated and just done with the fact that I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything for more than a few hours.
But here is the thing about this. Whether you are able to breastfeed or not your child will need you to a degree you never thought possible in their first years of life. That constant need for love, food, affection is exhausting. It’s also temporary.
I reminded myself of this that day in the summer. It’s temporary, this constant need my son has for me. It now feels like all I did was blink and he’s 14 months old. I leave for 12-13 hours at a time to go to work, and he’s fine. What I love is the look of happiness on his face when he sees me when I get home. He literally throws down whatever toy he’s holding to run to my arms. I love the time with him, close to me, rocking beside his crib as I breastfeed him before bed and in the morning. These times keep getting shorter, as he slowly transitions from needing me in that way. He is still going to need so much love, attention and discipline as he grows and starts to explore the world in other ways but this link between us now will soon be over. I feel so grateful to have had the ability to breastfeed him this way and allow it to end gradually, on his terms. I’m excited to see what kind of little person he’s becoming.
For now, though, I hold him close when I can, and I know that this is only temporary.