The Joy Of Breastfeeding

A Personal Look Back

I’ve stopped offering my breast to Naveen during the day; limited it to early morns and evenings. My baby will be one at the end of this month, heralding the close of this maternity leave.

A younger, childless friend of mine said the thought of breastfeeding a baby gave her the heebie jeebies. I got where she was coming from. It’s not something you can appreciate by imagining. It definitely falls under the understood by doing category. And even then, it’s certainly not the same for everyone.

I tried to express my experience of it to her. But my words fell short. I had adverbs aplenty but was inept at stringing the thoughts together articulately enough to explain just what a wonder nursing has been for me. Not everyone has been so lucky. I’ve known a handful of women who’ve found it difficult, painful, and even unnatural. And many who couldn’t produce enough to sustain their babies. As with so many facets of motherhood, we all experience it in unique ways and you won’t hear me preaching. But oh indulge me.

Let me tell you how it’s been over here. Let me gush. Let me get downright sentimental. There’s nothing like the intimacy of it. I have loved a man. I have loved a dog. But loving a child has undone me. And nourishing that tiny body via my own? Well it has unravelled my carefully constructed ego. Forced me to see outside of myself. I understood again what a miracle life is, what a purpose mothering could be.

Also, it has been convenient and free. And that it could very well be why Deaglan and Naveen took so long to sleep through the night didn’t faze me one bit. The fact that La Senza* sent me on my way empty handed did not discourage me either. I knew I’d lose the bulk once I stopped nursing. I knew I could hold off having that second or third glass of wine till the kids were eating all solids.

It doesn’t make me Mother of the Year; I’m not waiting for a pat on the back. I’m waxing nostalgic. I’m looking into my future and peeking over my shoulder. I’m inhaling the baby scent of it all because I know it will be gone in an instant. And I’m wondering if I will remember the best parts. Not the exhaustion. Not the desperate need for five minutes to myself. But the soft intimacy with a tiny being. The knowing of each other on a heavenly scale. The warm sound of suckling in the dark. The ecstasy.

Kim McNamara is a freelance writer, wife, and full time working mother. Her writing was included in the anthology About her: Stories of Grace, Grit, Grievance and Gratitude (Metaphorical Ink) and she has also been syndicated on Blogher.

Please visit her blog to read more of her writing.