Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Commemorating the end of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding the third and final nursling

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

After eleven years of breastfeeding three babies, with part of a year off for one pregnancy, I have officially weaned: myself, my babies, my body. I no longer lactate. I have no nurslings. I am done with my breastfeeding time.

Of course, this is bittersweet. I thought a lot about what I did and didn't want to do to commemorate this change in my life. I didn't want to know when the exact last nursing was, for instance. Karsten petered off around age three and a half, and I let that be vague in my mind. I didn't want to know: This is how it ends. I didn't want to worry it wasn't the bestest nursing session ever or wonder if it would repeat. I don't know when the last time was, and that's fine by me.

I needed some time to both grieve and celebrate. Grieve for the end of this period of my life that was wrapped up in childbearing and baby-rearing, in carriers and nursing bras and teething toys and sweet sweaty toddler hands on my neck. Celebrate hanging up my nursing bras and feeling in control of my body again, of having stronger boundaries once more on who can access what and when.

I wanted a memento to cherish this time in my life that spanned three babies and more than a decade, so I deliberated long and hard about breastmilk jewelry.

I eventually went with these beautiful earrings from Hollyday Designs. I typically just wear earrings when I go out, and I like something silver and dangly and that makes a statement. These fit the bill. (I bought these earrings myself; this is not a sponsored post.)

Unfortunately, I was down to literally my last drops of breast milk. I didn't realize as Karsten was winding down that my milk supply had dwindled so thoroughly. I knew his latch wasn't great anymore and that he'd stopped using one breast entirely. That one was no use at all, and the other was barely squeezing out a dab or two of milk whether I hand expressed or used an electric pump. I no longer had any frozen milk stored, since I'd used it up or given it away.

I was feeling frantic, wondering if my dreams of breastmilk jewelry were dashed. I wrote Holly and explained my dilemma, and she said she didn't need much in volume. So I kept hand expressing, every day, truly a drop or two at a time. Eventually, I had maybe a teaspoon or two to send in, so I dithered with it in my freezer for a long time, then finally gave it a hard wish for luck and sent it off.

Because the process had taken so long and I'd delayed even further out of anxiety that the milk wasn't enough, by the time my earrings arrived, I was well and truly past my breastfeeding days. When I opened them up, I was thrilled. They were just as beautiful as I'd hoped, and they work perfectly for my style while also giving me that special warmth of knowing they represent the close bond I've shared with all three of my children for so many years.

Have you looked into commemorative jewelry to celebrate the end of a season in your parenting journey? What did you choose?


Maddy said...

Dear Lauren,
I have enjoyed you last heartfelt posts very much. I should have written sooner, but wanted to write a thoughtful reply. Some how I never found the time and I have decided that a less than perfect comment is much better than silence. This is kind of a long comment since it covers several posts. I have followed your blog since I found myself nursing my three year old nearly eight years ago. I am happy that you have found a way to commemorate your nursing experience. I have not, myself. I nursed my two girls for a long time and found that long term nursing was worth it but often lonely. Few grown up people appreciate it's significance to you and your child, and when you finally stop, most people seem to say or think, "Gee it's about time." I am sorry that you have been through a rough period recently and hope you are still doing well now. I do not struggle with the need for silence and solitude now that my kids attend school, but I remember that my mom, who had three kids like yourself and a very busy husband often did. When I was about thirteen, I remember her complaining about it and mentioning that she was greatly helped by Anne Morrow Lingbergh's book, "Gift from the Sea." which was about the author's thoughts when she spent a month in solitude on an island. While we were young, my mother never much time for herself, but somehow reading about someone who did for a little while helped her a lot. I have never read the book myself, and may take it out from the library when I go there next. I also find that going out under a wide sky with my family, fills that need for silence for me, even if I am not alone. Anyways I follow two other blogs with writers who have big families and say they are introverts. I also have a friend who blogs and is extremely shy. I find it somewhat surprising that shy and quiet people feel brave enough to reveal themselves on the internet. I am not so brave. I too am a bit sad about the decline of blogging. I think the care and editing and careful thought and attention to detail that goes into a blog post yields a something of great value and you should be proud of what you have done. You write beautifully. I will most likely never have a blog, but have toyed with the idea of doing a guest post on Halloween candy chemistry. I liked your post comparing your youngest boys pictures to your child hood pictures. My children don't resemble me much. Upon meeting my daughter, one friend said,"She's cute but she doesn't look like you." It was OK with me. My time at the computer is up. Best wishes.

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