Following the Heart
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 4 July-August 2001, p. 134
My son, Jacob, who is three-and-a-half, loves to nurse. He always has. And so after I became pregnant when he was 16 months old, I listened to my heart and never even considered weaning him, in spite of unsolicited advice to the contrary from some family and friends. I am very grateful that I chose not to end our nursing relationship, because when my pregnancy ended in miscarriage, as had two pregnancies before Jacob was born, I had the comfort of nursing to help me through my grief. I became pregnant again five months later, and took comfort in our nursing relationship once again when I miscarried. I have a precious memory of Jacob nursing during one of the miscarriages. I was using my childbirth breathing techniques through the painful uterine contractions, and he thought my panting was hilarious and kept letting go to look up at me and giggle. Bittersweet as it was, I will always cherish that image.
Four months later I became pregnant again and waited with my breath held as the weeks crept by, with numerous blood tests and ultrasounds. As with the pregnancy that had produced Jacob, after two miscarriages, the third time was the charm. This pregnancy was meant to be, although it still was not completely uneventful.
When I was pregnant with Jacob I had been on bed rest for pre-term labor that began at 33 weeks. This time the contractions began at 18 weeks. My greatest fear was that my doctor would recommend that we stop nursing, but he said that he wasn't concerned since the contractions didn't seem to become worse when we nursed. Nursing through pregnancy was at times a challenge due to nipple soreness that persisted throughout the entire nine months. But mostly it was a joy and gave me precious time together with Jacob. His favorite nursing position has always been lying across my lap, and he continued this, seemingly oblivious to my shrinking lap and expanding belly. He just happily wrapped himself around me. While he nursed, I talked to him about how the new baby would need to nurse a lot, but that there would always be time for him to nurse, too.
Jacob nursed three hours before the scheduled cesarean section that brought his baby sister, Rebecca, into the world. While we were in the hospital, I let him nurse whenever he asked because I knew that was what he needed then. When we came home, he quickly resumed his usual pattern of nursing just once or twice a day.
Sometimes he nurses at the same time as his sister, most often not. He has never shown any jealousy toward her nursing needs. And sometimes he will tell me as he lets go, "Mama, I saved some milk for baby Rebecca."