#anopenletterto is an open letter to someone with a hashtag in front of it.
It’s been three weeks now since you last fed. I knew it was the last. We were on holiday having a cuddle in bed together and you were looking into my eyes which you don’t usually do; I remember clearly thinking “cherish this, it might be the last”, and it was. I like to think you told me so, to prepare me and protect my heart from breaking so hard. I took in all your features; your lovely eyelashes, your chubby cheeks, the way your eyes wander round the room while you feed and best of all the beautiful noises you made.
The squeaking, swallowing and sighs of happiness.
I’ll miss so much about feeding you; the way it connected us like nothing else ever could. If you were overwhelmed and upset in a crowded situation we could sneak away and recharge together and you’d be right as rain afterwards. And the way your eyes rolled when the milk let down and you looked so so happy and relieved. I’ll miss how you used to have your feet/fingers in my face/ribs/mouth as you fed. I’ll miss how even at 15.5 months you still only wanted to be fed like a newborn in the cradle position.
Most babies as they get older want to sit upright to feed or hold the boob themselves; not you! You were still insistent that I hold it in place for you while you lay across me. As much as it brought me to tears at times I’ll miss how impatient you were with your feeding, from day one you were not willing to wait for the let down! You got more and more impatient with age, having one sip and coming off to frown at me and shout “ehh!”; as though I could flick a switch and it would happen! Funny boy. You’re so communicative and expressive – you always have been. I’ll miss looking at you and knowing that I’m growing you; for two years, one month and 10 days I grew you, first in my tummy and then with my milk. Now you’re doing it.
There’s other things I’ll miss too, things I didn’t expect.
I cried in front of the mirror last week as I realised I was still wearing my nursing bras with clips on. I don’t need them now. My breastpads are redundant. I can’t go to my breastfeeding groups where I made so many friends. I can wear clothes that don’t have boob access. I can get a tattoo. I can be a tester for Unilever again. I can go away for the night. In a lot of ways, it seems, I’m more free than I was. Liberated if you like. But as exciting as that is, it’s also pretty daunting. I liked being tied to you. It’s all I’ve known. In needing me you’ve made me feel so important, so valued and so safe. It’s been me and you; our perfect dyad. We had a bond that no one else had when I fed you. Now, you don’t need me *quite* as much. And believe me, that’s a difficult concept to get my head round. In some ways I wish I could keep you close to me forever.
But do you know what? The sad, nostalgic thoughts are only small, fleeting ones. The overwhelming emotion that’s flooding through me right now is pride. Absolute pride. I look at you and realise I’ve done something right in my life. Yes, you don’t need me quite so much now, but how amazing is that? At just 16 months old you are so fiercely independent you give me a run for my money! You are confident, secure and bright as a button. You have chosen when to end your nursing journey. Slowly but surely you’ve reduced the frequency and length of your feeds. You’ve done that. If it were up to me I’d still be feeding you now; I wanted to get to an age where you could ask me for it and tell me what it meant to you. What does it taste like? How does it make you feel? I guess I’ll never know your experience of it, but the look in your eyes told me enough.
Thank you, Caleb, for blessing me with the honour of carrying you and feeding you. I’ll hold all the memories in my heart. As much as I’ll miss so much about nursing, I’m so ready for the next stage in our journey together. It’s still you and me, my love. Forever and ever.
Jessica is a stay at home mum who does some part time domestic cleaning. In her spare time she likes to hide in the kitchen eating chocolate so she doesn’t have to share it with her mini beast.
This piece is a part of Season V of PTL which is run in association with: All About Trans.
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