Droopy eyes, soft mewling noises, and warm snuggles. A small hand comes reaching up and wraps around the breast, hugging it, kneading it, drawing it in closer. Soft let down and enough oxytocin surging through my body to instantly propel me to cloud nine. This is a time for quiet cuddles and quiet thoughts, a time to slow down and breathe them in, memorising their smell and every tiny detail.
Breastfeeding has been one of the most rewarding parts of motherhood for me, one that comes with not forgetting how truly blessed we’ve been to do it twice now. It was hard in the beginning with Maddie: this idyllic picture of the most natural thing in the world shattered when it wasn’t… well… natural for us. Panic taking over as I began to think here I was failing as a mother straight out of the gate, a symptom I now recognise as part of the PPD I went through. We were blessed to have human angels, in the form of midwives and lactation consultants, come around each day that first week to help us hone this skill, one we’d both obviously missed the memo on. But easier it did become, and soon Maddie was breastfeeding like a champ and continued to do so up until she self-weaned at fourteen months.
With Dexter, however, it felt like I had never stopped: just a few minutes after birth saw a brilliant latch and his first nursing session. It felt just as natural as it had with Maddie once we had gotten the hang of it and, with the exception of those early weeks complaints like sore nipples and engorgement, along with a minor thrush infection (and of course, occasionally sending him coughing and sputtering thanks to oversupply and forceful letdown), we’ve been lucky enough to have gotten on with it without any major issues. The pain in those early weeks, the waking up with soaking wet bedsheets, the inefficient cluster feeding, all of those eventually became distant memory and what remains is the soul-calming experience of sitting quietly, nursing my baby while I stare at him in wonder and think “I MADE this! Each of these budding little fat rolls came from ME!” And at nearly fourteen pounds at nine weeks, he’s definitely getting the good stuff!
I thought back to all the countless times I must’ve nursed Maddie over those fourteen months and know that I will have just as many shared quiet moments with Dexter, as it’s my hope to nurse him just as long if not longer. And years from now, when they’re too busy for their parents, when their heads are spinning around as teenagers, and when we tearfully watch them marry the people they love as adults, I will always look back with gratitude for those small, quiet moments softly cuddled in and feeling all at once sleepy and bursting with love from all of those hormones, from the peace that comes with being forced to slow down in a life that is going by entirely too fast and quietly reflect, “REMEMBER these moments, MEMORISE these details, DRINK them in, because one day they will be among the memories you treasure most.” And both Maddie and Dexter will likely not have any recollection of those thousands of nursing sessions, but I will; and for all the frustrating cluster feeding sessions where it felt pointless to put away the boob, all the exhausting three AM feeds and five AM wake up calls, all the embarrassing times I realised, in public, that I have completely leaked all over my top… I will, indeed, treasure them.