I've said this before – but before I became a mother myself, I had ideas in place about breastfeeding — it was always in my plan, but I had this idea that I'd do it for a year, and then quit; because anything after that – anything that veered into the too-old bracket – was just creepy. I thought that if a child was old enough to ask for it, that they were certainly too old for it altogether.
What I didn't realize, though, was that the moment they become old enough to ask for it is, in fact, the precise moment in which the entire process becomes infinitely more easy and natural. The guessing games end, and the road travelled hand in hand begins.
From her very first moments earthside, this girl of mine was a boob girl. She latched to my right breast immediately, and stayed there for 45 minutes while a team of doctors stitched my third-degree tear back together. From that day onward, she and I were a team. I'd heard stories of women who'd introduced a bottle too early and who'd inadvertently ushered in nipple confusion, and I was wary of the same thing happening to us; so my husband and I were sure to wait as long as we could. We tried sticking a bottle in her mouth at 10 weeks; and she made it abundantly clear that oh, hell no; no way on earth was this going to be a thing. Why were we shoving this plastic nipple in her mouth when she was clearly starving?? Where's her mama's milk already?
She wailed; we wept.
I was exhausted. I needed a break. I was all touched out from having signed that lease on my body; it wasn't mine at all anymore and I desperately needed some modicum of my autonomy back. The days were long, and the nights were longer; I was a human pacifier. My touch, my skin and my milk were all she needed in order to get by.
She fed; I complied.
A year of our lives went by, and I couldn't believe I'd ever thought I'd put an end to any of this so soon; we were only just getting started! Look how little and sweet she is, I thought! We needed each other. Pure chaos could swallow us whole — but the minute she latched on to me, we found solace. It was rest, it was peace, and it was a coming together that was integral to our relationship.
She never did take a bottle.
She's four years old now. We're tethered to one another; we always will be. We'll go months without any of this and I'll be sure beyond shadow of a doubt that she's done, until it happens again. I'm not sure when she'll give up nursing for good; and anytime she feels is right is okay by me. But until then, I'll gather this girl up in my arms and give her all the love I've got. She is my only; she is my walking miracle and my heart on two feet.
Here is where we find and gather ourselves — to connect and recharge, to love and be loved — for as long as we need. Here between us is eternal hearth and home.