When we became pregnant with Emma we knew this would be our last. I actually started preparing myself then for the day that would come when I would no longer nurse this fourth and final baby.Sounds silly, but I know myself and I know the pain I felt when I stopped with Leah. I never imagined I would have a baby who loved to nurse as much as sweet Emma Lynne. When I started slow-weaning her it was not like Leah who I was going from 3-4 feedings to one. It was about 6 or 7 feedings I had to work through. The timing of it was set just because I was going to be gone at bedtime for 3 nights in a row. Recital. Last year I sat through the recital with contractions 7 minutes apart or less (after laboring all day) until intermission. I saw my lovely Chiara perform and within minutes we were headed home, then headed to the hospital. A year later our fourth daughter is here and she will be joining us for the recital Saturday evening.
Emma has been down to nursing just at night for about a week before we slowly cut the last one out. For a few weeks I have not been letting her nurse to sleep. Sometimes she was fine with that and other nights she expressed her dislike in a very loud fashion. I know it is not hunger that causes the screaming, but that was our alone time. Our "cuddle time"-to quote Miss Leah. So, I have been spending a lot more time holding her. Caressing her head and cheek (something I started doing when I first ever nursed her). Just filling in the gap for less nursing.
The few days following up to our first night apart I nursed her downstairs on only one breast and then David and I brought her to bed together. She was not a fan. She looked at David and I swear in her yell/cry she was saying, "What the heck are you doing in here? " The first night as I held her and talked softly (Daddy in the room) she pointed with her hand to the rocking chair. She knows. She wanted me to sit and nurse. That moment was tough. "Sorry baby, all done." We laid her down and she cried. I rubbed her head and belly until she calmed down and we left the room. She cried for about ten minutes. Not too bad. She slept all night. The second night was much the same. Though she did wake at night (a rarity) I was able to get her back to sleep without nursing her.
That last night....Wednesday....I asked David to take a picture of the last time I will nurse a baby. I know there will come a day when it will not be so fresh in my mind. A day when I will want to recapture that moment. Of course my sweet, loving husband, who knows my heart was more than willing to do this. This is a change of seasons for him as well. I could not take my eyes off her. I wanted to soak it in. Fully be present. I let her stop when she was done. We took her to bed and I felt peaceful about our decision.
Yes, this is an end. But, I am fully aware this is also a beginning. We have never been in a place where we are done nursing, done with teeny-tiny baby and not already pregnant or hoping to be pregnant. New season. New chapter. People have been asking me if this is tough. If I am having a hard time with her not nursing her or ever again. No. Like I said, I have been preparing myself for this day since she was born. Also, the one blessing to her being a "colic"/fussy infant is that it wore me out nursing her nonstop for the first 5 months.
So, with joy and expectation we will all enter into this new season, this new chapter. I will hold this baby and nursing season close to be heart for the rest of my life. I realized the honor and privilege I have to be able to nurse my babies. I pray my doing this will encourage them to do the same some day.
Emma's final time nursing....mine too.