Bittersweet Endings

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I’m officially done nursing babies.

I have nursed five babies.  The first one was only for about 6 weeks – but it totally counts because breastfeeding is hard work!  The next 3 nursed for about 8 months each and then decided they were done.  No idea why.  It was always very abrupt.  They would nurse just fine and then one day they didn’t want to nurse anymore.  Every single time I was both happy and sad.  Breastfeeding is both wonderful and hard.  My babies were so attached to me during the time that they were nursing.  So much so that they would rarely take anyone else for any extended period of time.  It was exhausting.  All of my babies nursed through the night and none of them slept through the night until at least 8 months old.  Again, exhausting.  Totally, totally wonderful and worth it – but exhausting nonetheless.  My fifth baby (who happens to be my only boy) nursed until about three days ago.  This is well past the eight month record set by the previous babies.  He turned one in mid-March, so he actually nursed past his first birthday, which felt like an enormous accomplishment for me.  At the same time, I knew it was about time to wean him (because of the attachment issues).  Many, many moms nurse well past the first birthday and I think that’s wonderful.  We just knew that for our family, it was coming time to make a change.

This baby is my last baby.  He’s the last one.  I’m very comfortable with our decision to not have anymore babies (for many reasons), but it is still very bittersweet to know that he is that last baby I will ever nurse.  So, I have been determined to really enjoy this time with him.  I’ve been very sentimental about nursing my last baby.  We made the decision to wean him in a couple of weeks.  I was mentally and emotionally preparing myself to be done.  I have been both excited (goodbye ugly nursing bra) and a bit sad.  A few days ago I ended up with a massive ear infection that required medicine that I couldn’t take while nursing.  So, I stopped nursing.  Just like that I’m done.  No warning, no preparation, no last time…done.

In my parenting journey, there have been so many of these bittersweet endings.  Last time the pregnancy test will read positive.  Last time I’ll go to the hospital to have a baby.  Last time I’ll buy little baby onesies.  Last first bath and last first steps.  Last time nursing my last baby.  Each time I felt the same emotions.  It’s all bittersweet.  But it’s all so wonderful too.

A very wise woman once told me that the purpose of parenting is to “teach and train your kids to leave”.  Every time I hit one of these bittersweet endings I remind myself of this purpose.  I want to raise amazing babies that turn into amazing kids and then amazing teens and eventually amazing adults.  I want to teach them and train them to be world changers.  I want to celebrate every step they take on their journey toward independence.  I want to treasure all of these lasts so that I will remember the role that I have played in each of the firsts.  How beautiful it is to be a mother.  How incredibly blessed I am that God would allow me to share in the lives of such amazing little people.  I am so grateful for each of these bittersweet endings and I pray that God will prepare me for the even more difficult endings to come.

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