I started my first pregnancy roughly eight years ago. Since then, it’s been a steady cycle of pregnancy to breastfeeding to breastfeeding-while-pregnant to just pregnant to breastfeeding again. Zero breaks. I’ve been directly passing my calories to one or two (or, on and off, when a friend had supply issues, three) babies at a time for eight years.
Lilly has been down to one feeding for a couple of months, and the last weeks, she’s been less and less interested. Now she appears to have quit altogether. Suddenly, I have my body back to myself. I can take medicine without mentally checking whether it’ll pass to baby or affect supply. This is exciting. My body is tired and way past ready for a rest. It’s also bittersweet for all the normal reasons: my baby is growing up, entering a new phase, all of that. We don’t, as of now, have plans for more babies. We’re open to changes of mind or surprise “bonus blessings,” but so far we haven’t had any surprises, so this may well be the end.
On the one hand, I want to celebrate… this body, for all our fights, has brought life over and over again. Thousands of feedings. Mental math says it’s actually close to ten thousand at this point. That’s friggin’ amazing. My boobs are badass and deserve a trophy. And, while we’re passing them out, my uterus deserves one, as well. Five pregnancies (one short-lived) is impressive, I’d say. Also? I can drink coffee again, hallelujah and amen.
But also, eight years is a long time. It’s long enough, certainly, to start to shape an identity. I realize right now that I’ve been in the baby season for so long that I’m feeling a little unmoored when I think about releasing it. Who am I, even, without a baby attached, either inside or out?
I know it’s kind of a silly thing to get all morose about. Women have been weaning babies almost as long as they’ve been having them, and it seems like it shouldn’t really justify an existential crisis. But it’s me, and my hormones are out of whack, so existential crisis, here we come!
I don’t have a solid end for this. I’ll keep moving forward. I’ll grieve the loss of this season (and the self I leave behind with it) just a smidge, and do my best to enjoy the next, like I’ve been doing all along.