I stopped nursing in January and I feel clueless as a mother as a result. It didn’t happen overnight… It stopped being our go-to solution over time, little by little. I was both happy and sad with each milestone that took us further away from nursing. I was totally touched out and nursing him had become painful by the time he self-weaned in January, so it wasn’t such a big deal for me at the time.
Months after weaning, my son got an ear infection and a week after that, he fell off of the couch and injured his shoulder (days later, we found out that he actually fracutured his collarbone). Moments like these made me cry inside because milk, mommy’s milk, would have been the answer a year or two ago. Milk in the ear to help with healing (yes, it works, we’ve done it) and continued nursing for comfort and an immunity boost; mother’s milk to calm and console him dealing with a broken bone. But without my magical healing remedy, I was left with cuddling, rubbing, and being asked not to sing.
I am currently pregnant with my second child. She is due October 21. My son is excited to be a big brother and to have a little sibling/sister, but I can tell that he’s suffering from lack of attention from me. He’s been super emotional, inconsolable and defiant. He is understandably having a really hard time right now, and I’m having trouble helping him get through it. He has had so many changes happen to him in the last year and a half, yet I feel quitting nursing is the biggest one! In my third trimester now, I’m physically unable to lift him and it is hard for the both of us. He can’t lean on my stomach because it hurts and my lovely child just doesn’t know how to be gentle. He is obsessed with my breasts right now too, but doesn’t want/know how to nurse anymore.
I wish this weren’t so. I wish I could still place him on a boob and make his world better, make him feel better, make him feel nurtured and loved and cared for and kept, in my bosom. I wish I could nurse his boo-boos away, I wish I could squirt milk on everything still and heal it. I wish I could gain understanding through nursing sessions. Alas, I cannot.
I don’t regret our nursing experience though, not a single moment. I hope to nurse this new child just as long, if not longer. I hope our ending is sweet and easy. I hope she self-weans just like her brother did. I hope she gets ready to wean before I do. Why? Because for me, breastfeeding is life. As a Black woman, just breathing or existing is not life. We are hurting and damaged and hurting and traumatized as a collective. We’ve been ripped from the bosom literally and figuratively, and we have been made to feel like strangers in our own skin as a result. In this age of healing, we must heal ourselves, our mothers, grandmothers and foremothers; our babies, their children and their children. This healing starts at the breast. Our revolution will start at our mothers (our own) bosom.
I don’t care if “breast is best” or “fed is best”. I’m NOT here to demonize mothers for formula feeding. My feelings about formula companies are not relevant to this. Breast is healing, breast is healing, breast is healing. My foremothers were forced to wet nurse their oppressor’s children, they were forced to nurture their future owners, rapists and abusers. They were taught to give their deepest love to their biggest haters and they did. They left their children *home* to survive on pot liquor, longing, distant love and fear. We were starving, dying and crying for our mothers and they were forced to be elsewhere, feeding another woman’s child. Our mothers were raped, abused and told it was their own fault, often citing our voluptuous breasts as the reason for the sexual violence inflicted upon us. In the generations since our enslavement, our mothers have made us ashamed of our breasts and we learned to cover them up early in life, lest we fall victim to the violence of men. I, myself, was uncomfortable in this body with large breasts since an early age.
In nursing my son, I not only nurtured him but I also nurtured myself. I reclaimed my body for him, for us, for me. It became mine. Throughout this journey, I’ve learned to belong to me, which has made me a stronger and more confident mother. I learned to let go of the rape and to process the molestation. I was able to cry over it and mourn. I taught myself real self-love that wasn’t seeped in feeling sexy or attractive to the outside world and instead, was soaked in self-awareness and understanding. I know that nursing my son has healed me, healed my son and I believe that it has also healed my foremothers too.