Breastfeeding has been a special experience for Lake and me. It’s all the two of us have known in relation to each other. It’s been the one constant amidst all the other changes in the past two years. It’s been an act of loving kindness, of devotion, and of straightforward simplicity. We developed a rhythm of sorts, a biological schedule of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and nightcap day in and day out, rain or shine through work and weekends. Never a bottle, always from the breast, only a few occasions hand-pumped for yoga retreats. Later, out of convenience, skipping meals or constantly snacking as the circumstances allowed. At times it was a rather organic process such as being on holiday, just the two of us. My friend Julia referred to it as “open bar.” Or maybe it’s Lake’s version of slowing the pace, of Slow Food! Truly, breastfeeding Lake is one of the highlights of my life. I wanted the opportunity to breastfeed my baby for a long time and to have this dream manifest has been a true joy. The feeling has been mutual, too… Lake relishes his Num Nums! as he calls it.
Now, is it time to say goodbye? That is the big question weighing on my chest right these past days. We have met the 12 month minimum recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and we met the two year minimum recommendation from the World Health Organization guidelines for breastfeeding. Clearly he no longer needs to breastfeed. Though he certainly still seeks it out. When he hasn’t seen me for a few hours, or when injured or jet lagged he is apt to inquire about and request breastfeeding. It’s comforting for sure. It’s also nutritious and healthy and yummy for him! Lake will say num nums, or even now more recently num nums? politely inquiring, asking permission. If I say “möchtest Du [would you like] num nums?” He will exuberantly reply Ja!!! Last week he did for the first time call num nums “Essen” The German word for food or meal.As in, “Sitz Essen. Essen Num Nums!” That did take me aback a bit. It reminded me of my grandmother’s story of how long she breastfed. She said when her son looked at her and asked her directly for the milk, that made her feel like a cow, and reached her limit right here! Milkies is for babies, not children! So for nostalgia, here’s Lake’s first Num Nums:
Now, with Lake at his Grandparents on holiday, this is a natural opportunity to cease and desist with the beloved milkies. It would be so easy but it’s still so hard. The decision becomes so final. There’s no turning back once we stop our num nums connection. And it’s so special! On Saturday we had dinner with my in-laws on Bainbridge and my mother-in-law shared her grandmother’s wisdom. She and her sister had not been breastfed, so when she was pregnant and perhaps strategizing how to feed her newborn, her grandmother leaned in and said: “breastfeed-you’ll love it!” And so she did.
This is our second time now, since Lake turned two years old, where we’ve been separated for multiple days. The first time was the yoga teacher training retreat last month. I had planned to have that be our good-bye num nums. But I pumped instead. I couldn’t let go. It’s so final. Then the first thing he did when I got home from the four day retreat (where he got on swimmingly without me of course), was to leap into my arms and wriggle himself downwards and sideways in order to breastfeed.
There were points when it was a bit much for me, (as in when he was jet lagged and drinking all night for three nights in a row!), but not to the point where it’s worth turning him down or trying to introduce a pacifier. I always sought to enjoy this incredibly special bond knowing that it’s such a unique time together. Now, either way the cookie crumbles, we’re getting close to the end, to the bittersweet Goodbye Num Nums. Michael commends me for my valiant effort, though it may not even end up being within my power at all. Today when I sat down to pump my daily few ounces, only a few drops squeaked out of leftie. I knew it was inevitable that Num Nums would eventually come to their natural conclusion. This current separation might very well be it, so I had Michael take one last photo before Lake left. Will it end up being a photo commemorating “The Last Supper?”