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My favorite thing about a 2nd baby is that there still are A LOT of firsts. It’s the first time brother has ever had a baby. It’s the first time, YOU’VE had to experience brother with his new baby! Living life through your firstborn’s eyes bring an extra dose of joy to welcoming a new little one.
Welcome, Shepherd Lewis! You’ve brought love into a home that was already bursting with happiness!
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Welcome Theodore Robert!
He came into the world on September 19th at 6lbs 12oz and 18 3/4 inches. Just the sweetest little babe you’ve ever seen. He’s totally bowled mom and dad over with his adorable little face and has flooded their world with love.
I want to showcase some of the more touching images by presenting you with some of my favorite black and whites from his session.
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“A woman’s life isn’t worth a plateful of cabbage if she hasn’t felt life stir under her heart. Taking a little one to nurse, watching him grow to manhood, that’s what love is.”
~Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries
I honestly can’t remember how long I nursed my first babe. It was past a year, probably ‘modestly so’. You know, his first birthday rolled past and we quietly switched from a morning and a night feeding to just the one bedtime feed until things slowly drifted away.
With my second son, I was so ill and intent on finding a diagnosis that after 3 months of refusing to stop nursing just so that docs could test some drugs out on my symptoms, I finally decided we needed to stop so I could focus on my health. Nursing him lasted a very precious 9 months.
With my baby, my sweet, and probably last baby; I clung to nursing like he clung to me. First of all, 12 months came and went and it didn’t slow down his duration or length of feedings. At 16 months, he and I would still happily nurse 6 times a day.
Once again, my health has come into question. And it was time for nursing to come to a close.
This experience has been one of the most heart wrenching of my life. I know I have had many other hardships that in comparison someone may pause at that statement. But so much depth of identity and facing the inevitable new seasons of life rocked me hard. Harder than I ever expected.
It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve stopped nursing and the tears (for me) keep flowing. This never happened to me before. Maybe, as I said before, it’s because he’s likely my last baby. And the chances of ever BIRTHING a baby again are super slim. If we ever DO decide to add to our family, it’s probably going to be through adoption, which makes the chances of ever connecting mouth to breast and having the role as the sole support of nutrition even more slim. Saying goodbye to those two things is incredibly hard.
They say if you rush weaning it can be just as hard on you physically and it is emotionally. I am here to tell you, “they” are right.
We thought we had a good plan: Cut down the feedings over the course of 2 weeks from 4-6 to 2.
That, in itself, was way too freaking fast. But I did it. Bad Idea #1
Then, the next step: At the point where he was at 2 feedings, I’d just leave.
Yep. You read that right. I drove 800 miles to Florida to celebrate my birthday with my husband and in the process separate myself from nursing… and magically come back to a baby that no longer needed me. Bad Idea #2
Don’t get me wrong. There were good points to knowing that this was going to be ‘the last time’. I got to really soak in the moments. Hold him close and sing him the song that I always sing just for him:
“I like your eyes. I like your nose. I like your mouth, your ears, your hands, your toes.I like your face. It’s really you.
I like the things you say and do.There’s not a single soul who sees the skies the way you see it through your eyes.
And aren’t you glad? You should be glad. There’s no one. No one. Exactly. Like. YOU.”
I got to hear him ask (yes, ASK) to nurse by saying “NUh-se” and requesting to switch to the other side by saying, “oth syed”.
I got to see his incredible blue eyes look up at mine. I got to see that tiny little hand rest upon my chest and lightly pat with just his fingers as his hand stayed steady. I would say, “Thank you for the pat-pat.” And he’d smile, as if he knew that he was making me feel better.
I got to cradle what felt like a too big body for nursing but I still loved it. I looked at his feet and cried at the idea that I wouldn’t just sit and admire his toes for 30 minutes the same way ever again.
We spent time snuggling. And then, as usual, he asked to have something off of my bedside table to play with. Usually my contact case or the tv remote. And then he looked at me and said, “bak aws” (backwards) and went backwards off the side of my bed and was done.
I took mental pictures and physical ones too. I wanted to be ok with it. But the finality of it all was crushing.
I hoped the beach trip would help be a good distraction. I figured I’d occasionally pump while in Florida but only when necessary to lower my supply and make it a smooth transition from milk cartons (believe me, they were never jugs) to plain ol boobies.
Well, guess what? The pump never made it into our luggage but sat forgotten on our laundry room floor for the entire week we were away. We realized this 3 hours into our drive and Christopher worried and stressed about getting a source of relief for me but I balked at it. I thought, “He’s really just been nursing for comfort these past couple of months. I’ve even gone a whole 12 hour day at work without pumping, I’m sure I’ll be ok as I try to dry up my milk.” Bad Idea #3
I don’t know how I was so naïve to think he wasn’t getting any milk. Time proved me wrong. 10 hours into our trip, I was uncomfortable. 24 hours in, I was engorged. Even still, I thought expressing was the better choice over buying a pump.
While I did enjoy our beach trip, my boobs consistently interrupted it. I purchased heads of cabbage to wear and fresh sage to consume to dry up my milk supply. The herbs were bitter. Like rubbing salt into a wound, I was now punishing my palate. And wearing leaves of cabbage around the clock under my bikini was just plain ridiculous. One side became the obvious ‘over-achiever’, making me look incredibly lop-sided (as if cabbage cleavage wasn’t already distracting).
But, most difficult to endure was the emotions. Constantly weepy, I’d go on about how much this was breaking my heart, especially since I know that this didn’t end on mutual terms. The thought of pulling a means of nutrition away from my baby, but also a source of rest and comfort was devastating. Sobs that I’ve never before uttered released from my body. With each wave of grief I felt a release, I also desired to connect with him just one more time. It was like I was my own ocean. Release and Connect. Ebb and Flow. My body was oceanside but my mind would often drift back to the possibility of maybe trying to resume nursing once we were home.
And so I did.
I didn’t just jump right back into nursing. We were home for a day before we saw our kids and I pumped the minute I walked in the door. Releasing the milk that was trapped in my body almost instantly changed my mood. (Hello Hormone Shift!) Suddenly I felt ok about weaning. I wasn’t happy about it but if he was ok, then I’d be ok.
He was not ok.
He wasn’t in a bad way, mind you. But this kid knew that mommy means milk. So he’d ask and I’d distract. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being a softie, a coward, whatever.
And that, really and truly was the end of our nursing relationship.
I have no regrets. Plus, the craziness that I endured of weaning was certainly hilarious.
I am still grieving that loss. Just the other day I was running over my packing list for photographing my next wedding in my head. Trying to go through everything I’d need to for the next day, it hit me that this will be the first time since my son has been born that I won’t need to consider pumping or supplying him with milk. It reopened my sadness and I sank into it wailing into the late hours of the night. The disconnection I feel is normal and I know the grief will pass. In some ways I am so thankful to feel so deeply because it shows just how special of a gift I had.
Nursing has really sucked (pun TOTALLY intended). It isn’t always for everyone and not everybody’s body takes to it easily. But for me, this very last time I may ever have done it, it was totally difficult and totally awesome and one of my biggest and best accomplishments to date. I am so thankful to have had the time and the connection with my baby in this way. My heart will always adore nursing for the very special privilege that it is. And I will miss it very much.
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