I’m done breastfeeding.
After 27 months of not having any reason to stop breastfeeding, I decided I didn’t need a reason. I just wanted to.
This marks the first time in eight and a half years that I’m not pregnant or nursing, with the exception of a few months in between the end of nursing and a new pregnancy.
The first time my body is finally my own again.
During pregnancy, I happily welcomed the increased protein intake and food avoidance and exercise allotment and all manner of weird aches and pains. There was an alarmingly large amount of bleeding and body distortion and still, it was nothing if it was to be expected of motherhood.
I nursed through fever and sore nipples and the stomach flu, more than once. The baby remained latched as I retched over her into the trash can. And then she retched.
I pumped at work in the school’s library closet nicknamed “the milk barn,” as a poster of Patrick Stewart encouraging me to read watched over me, and I heard teenagers outside the door trade obscene insults. Still, I willed the machine’s “wocka wocka” rhythm and gentle prodding to encourage letdown and pump enough to get the baby through the next day’s daycare.
Even when the tech coordinator and driver’s ed teacher mistakenly interrupted me on separate days. Despite locked doors and posted warning signs.
When I was home with our third baby, I didn’t have to pump. I was just home. All the time. There was 24/7 milk delivery on demand.
I’m not sure which I preferred.
And I had it easy.
I had pregnancies without complications and straightforward births, all three times. My body sustained no permanent damage. With the aid of a thankfully aggressive nursing consultant at the hospital, I nursed fairly easily.
It was a privilege. I believe that fanatically.
I can also be glad it’s over.
This is the time to take back my mom bod. Even as it will inevitably be a mom bod forever, it is mine and no longer responsible for producing or maintaining life. I will still be a jungle gym and a pack mule and a source of comfort (I hope), but a little bit of the pressure is off.
I can eat spicy food and drink a second glass of wine and gobble extra sugar and I’m the only one who will suffer the consequences.
It’s a new kind of freedom.
I celebrate this new phase, even as I’m grateful to have had these years before it. I am suddenly independent of these new lives, my loves, and I am thrilled to be on the other side.
Now all I have to worry about is aging.