When I was pregnant with my girls I always planned to try to breastfeed my twin daughters for 12 months. I had breastfed my son until he was 13 months and it was a positive experience. I was excited to give my girls the same opportunity. Fast forward to their birth I was wheeled down to the NICU and introduced to my three and four pound babies. Hooked up to machines, tubes in their noses, IVs in their arms, I was terrified. As a mother you are supposed to feel warmth when you first lay eyes on your babies, but I was so scared. And then the nurse put this little creature in my arms and she snuggled against my skin and all my insecurities melted. This little three pound wonder latched on to my breast. She knew I was her mom. The nurses stood in awe of our tiny fighter. And so began my breastfeeding journey with my daughters.
One of the blessings of having my girls live in the NICU for three weeks was that I had an amazing nursing staff ready to help me learn how to breastfeed preemies. It wasn’t always easy. During those first initial weeks I remember saying to myself “If I can make it three months I will be proud of myself” and then three months passed and my mantra became “If I can make it to six months…” and then somewhere in the midst of caring for twin babies and a rambunctious two year old breastfeeding became a part of me, a part of our family culture.
I always thought I would wean my girls around 12 months, but then that milestone came and went without much thought. My girls and I were still emotionally invested and it just didn’t seem like the right time. As Luca and Charlotte approached 18 months I started to feel other people becoming uncomfortable with the toddler breastfeeding thing. The questions of when was I going to wean grew in number, my pediatrician wanted to make sure I knew I didn’t have to breastfeed and while breastfeeding in public I could feel the stares. As a society we still are not completely on board with breastfeeding after 1 year. Every couple of months I would gear up to wean and then I just wouldn’t. One day I was talking to my sister-in-law Susanna and she said “Well, do you actually want to wean them?” Funny, I had become so caught up in our society’s timetable of when I should stop breastfeeding my daughters that I seriously had never considered the fact that I didn’t have to stop. And so I thought about my answer to my sister-in-law’s question. Did I want to wean them? I wanted to stop wearing nursing bras. I wanted to be able to have a more flexible schedule. I wanted to wear clothes without thinking if they were nursing friendly. But did I want to wean them? The answer remains No. I’m not ready. It’s complicated, and it’s emotional.
My daughters, now 25 months old, are my last babies. Knowing that once I stop breastfeeding my daughters I will never again have the unique opportunity to breastfeed is difficult to swallow. My emotions are raw. I am not in a rush. This connection we have together is powerful, more powerful than I ever knew possible. I know at some point in the future it will be time to let go. It will be personal and emotional and when it is time, it will be okay. I’ll hold my daughters close and cherish the memories.