Welcome back to The Motherhood Collective, where myself and fellow photographers make a monthly commitment to get in front of the camera with our babies. We are trying so hard to practice what we preach and are holding one another accountable through a monthly blog circle. If you’ve missed the first two months, you can visit them here and here.
This month, I was planning on (somehow) being in an image with both of my boys. However, this month marked the end of my nursing relationship with my littlest boy, Cullen. I’m almost certain there are no more babies in my future, so this has been a very bittersweet milestone to reach. It is closing the door on both that part of his life and that part of my life. The part of being a woman who was able to bear children and fortunate enough to sustain them through nursing. It has been amazing and I am so thankful to be able to experience it all.
I nursed my first born, Charlie, for 30 months. I was a breast feeding warrior, and nothing was going to stop me. I fought my way through three (maybe four?) rounds of mastitis and multiple clogged ducts, all stemming from an undiagnosed lip tie. Once the tie was broken at 8 months, we nursed happily until I weaned him at 30 months. I did this because I had suffered two miscarriages, and wanted the “what ifs” of why it was happening to not include nursing as a possible cause.
Just a month later, I was pregnant with Cullen. My pregnancy and his delivery were everything one could ask for, and once his lip and tongue tie were clipped at a month old, he was such an easy baby to nurse. We didn’t have all of the issues I experienced the first time around, so it felt much more natural and not forced…I didn’t have to work to make it work. After he was clipped, there was no pain or mastitis or clogged ducts…it was just easy. Cullen had already self-weaned down to two times a day by a year old and nursing started causing me pain. I knew I wanted to end our relationship on a high note; I didn’t want to be touched out, I didn’t want to be annoyed with it or angry, and I didn’t want it to hurt.
I decided to plan our last nursing session, so I could remember that moment as the last drop of milk left my body. It was beautiful, as I sat there and watched him drift off to sleep with his chin quivering every so often and half suckling like they do.
March 19th marked the last time we nursed, and our whole nap and bedtime routine has completely changed since then.
It can be difficult finding beauty in the midst of such an emotional part of my life coming to a close.
Fortunately, I found that beauty in this month’s image. Instead of nursing to sleep, he takes a few ounces from a bottle and then we cuddle. He rests his tiny, hot little hand on my chest, right below my neck and looks up at me with his big, blue eyes, silently asking if he can nurse. I smile and hug him tight, knowing that he’s such an easy kid and will be okay when I don’t answer.
I can’t answer because, if I do, my heart will give in.
I know that ending it for my sake is worth the temporary heartache, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I know that my heart is saying to keep going, but my head and body are done. In the end, I was able to know it was the last time. I was able to really be present and remember that moment in both his and my life.
I am writing this to encourage you to think about yourself, not just your baby. It was wonderful to end our nursing relationship without me wincing in pain and without the feeling of annoyance or frustration.
Motherhood involves so much giving, so much selflessness, and putting everyone else first.
To all of the other mothers reading this, just remember that we need to do what is best for our babies, but also for ourselves.
When you are done, please go visit my friend Heather and her sweet girl over at Heather Carraway Photography.
Lentille Photography is a Sugar Land family photographer who specializes in newborn, children, family and maternity photography in Sugar Land, Texas and surrounding areas including but not limited to Houston, Bellaire, River Oaks and The Heights.
If you are you interested in a custom portrait session with Lentille Photography and would like more information, please click here for details on sessions and the heirloom products that are offered. If you would like to reserve your date on my calendar, please click on the contact button above or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I find such joy in capturing a family’s story and would be honored to help you tell yours!