A Special Time
Beth Anderson Goldman
Yarmouth, ME, USA
From New Beginnings, Vol. 26 No. 1, 2009, p. 13
I breastfed my first child, Jacob, who is now 28 months old, until he self-weaned at 22 months during the second trimester of my pregnancy with his brother. I never predicted that I would breastfeed my baby for so long—especially during pregnancy! Before he was born, my goal was to breastfeed for two months, then six months, and then one year. Then I realized that arbitrary time limits made no sense and, somewhere along the way, I knew I'd continue nursing him as long as he needed me to. I never could have imagined how much breastfeeding would mean to me and to my child—it's so much more than simply a way to feed a baby.
When I learned I was pregnant again, part of me was looking forward to tandem nursing, but when Jacob self-weaned before the end of my pregnancy, I realized it was the perfect ending to the fabulous nursing relationship we had shared. It happened so gradually, in fact, that I'm not even sure of exactly when his last nursing session occurred, which makes me a little sad, but also proud that there was no trauma or regret for either of us. And I certainly do remember plenty of sessions we shared throughout his infancy and early toddlerhood.
When my second son, Samuel, was born, although the labor was very difficult, the moments afterward were happier than I ever could have imagined. I had made it clear to the nurse during my labor that I wanted to try breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth. The nurse laid little Sam next to me immediately after he was born. After a few minutes, we tried nursing and I was fascinated to see him trying so hard. He was able to latch on after about five minutes and nursed for quite a while, which was amazing. The nurse left him in bed with me for about half an hour before taking him to the nearby bassinet to clean and weigh him. It was so nice to have that time, just me and my baby, with my husband there, too, and not have my baby whisked away onto a cold table to be poked and prodded the way Jacob had been when he was born.
The birth of Sam was much more difficult than that of Jacob (whose birth I actually enjoyed and for which I didn't have any medication). However, the time after Sam's birth was absolutely magical: I bonded instantly with him, as though I'd spent a lifetime knowing him and not mere minutes, and I attribute some of that to breastfeeding so early, sharing those precious first touches and cuddles.
Sam is now two months old. During a recent nighttime feeding, I was gazing at him and reflecting upon how special the nursing relationship is for my baby and me. Of course, there are nights when I'm overtired, and I wish he'd sleep from bedtime until morning so I can get more rest. But more often than that, I'm grateful for the special time we share at night with no distractions, just the two of us alone in the dark, time that is unique to this short period in his life and in my life as a mother.
Breastfeeding and the support and friendship I receive through my local La Leche League Group mean so much to me during my ongoing journey as a mother.