So, you're a breastfeeding parent and either you or your child has decided it's time to wean. Knowing the best time to wean your baby is not an exact science. Maybe you decided to nurse your child more than a year and giving up the boob was their call. Perhaps you had problems with breastfeeding your baby and it inspired you to call it quits after giving it the old college try. But once it happens and your breastfeeding days are over, you can look back on the experience as a whole... and that's where things might get weird.
If I had a dollar for every time an older mother told me, "Enjoy [aspect about your baby's life or your life while you have a baby] now, because you'll miss it when it's over," I would be wealthy enough to start a foundation dedicated to making sure no one ever said that to anyone ever again. Ugh. Look, here's the deal: It might be true, but you saying it as I'm trying my damnedest to manage my preschooler's public meltdown is not friggin' helpful. So please read the following list knowing it is uttered in the spirit of sisterhood, no condescending blindness to your current struggles. It is merely a head's up that maaaaaaaaaaybe you'll miss these things at some point, and if you do you won't be alone in it.
Constantly Being Needed
Unless you combo-feed breast milk and formula (or have a generous lactating babysitter), as a breastfeeding parent, you and you alone are your child's food source for a while. It is, I assure you, super annoying. Wanna go away for a weekend? Be prepared to add extra pumping sessions for the next couple weeks to stock up. And don't forget to have a plan in place to relieve your engorged breasts while you're away. Want to sleep through the night? Well, your infant is hungry, so tough crap.
Still, there may someday be, in a weird way, a nostalgia for the days where your little literally needed you and only you for something so fundamental.
Being Grabbed All The Time
My son lived with his hand down my shirt for the first three years of his life (even though he was weaned at 17 months). We called him "Nuzzleboob." My 20-month-old daughter currently clings to my breast like it's a door and she's Rose in Titanic. She. Will. Never. Let. Go.
It's irritating. I am confident that I, personally, will never miss it... but you never know, I guess. And I can see someone, at some point, thinking "Aw. Remember when my kids were so obsessed with my tatas and couldn't keep their hands to themselves? That was so sweet."
Middle Of The Night Feedings
There were definitely times with both my children (usually around 3 a.m.) when they would wake up for a feeding and it seriously felt like we were the only people on Earth who were awake. When that happens every night for months and months, it totally sucks... but when you look back on it (usually after a good night's sleep) you think "Aww. What lovely, quiet bonding time. Just me and my baby..."
Breastfed Baby Diapers
I know. Seems weird you'd ever long for a poopy diaper: I assure you, my children presented me with monsters. But ya know what? They're waaaaaaaay better than the diapers that happen after solids are introduced. Breastfed baby diapers smell like bread or popcorn or something that's basically innocuous. So while it sounds crazy, you may definitely find yourself longing for the days of those oddly-bright, seedy poops.
The Physical Act Of Nursing
Having a small human child suckle at your teat can be a very weird feeling. Often, it can be quite painful at first as you both get the hang of things. But even in the cases where nursing becomes second nature, the sensation can still be sort of awkward. But you may one day miss that awkwardness... especially if it makes you think of those little on-boob baby smiles.
"Nursing Baby Yoga"
This is especially prevalent among toddlers or infants approaching toddler-hood. Your antsy little gymnast will want to see if they can nurse upside-down, sideways, with their foot in your face, and a million other inconvenient positions. When you just want to feed them and move on with your day, this is irritating. When you don't actually have to do it and just remember it, you can see the humor in it.
Being Forced To Sit Down For However Long It Takes To Feed, Several Times A Day
If you just want to do a household chore, talk to house guest, fit in your workout, or any other task that requires both hands and standing, it can be annoying to have to sit down and feed your baby. But there will probably come a day where you were like, "God, I wish I had something that could pull me away from whatever I'm doing right now." It also builds in some (relative) rest periods in your day, not to mention one on one time with your wee one.
Your breasts continually filling with breast milk can give your hooties a nice little pick-me-up. Having breasts that inflate at regular intervals can be annoying when it comes along with all the other stuff that goes along with engorgement, but when you take bigger boobs in isolation, maybe they're something you can be wistful about later on.
For the last several years, all of my shirts have been ones I could pull down over my breasts for easy nursing access. They are stretched out and look absolutely awful... but they are comfortable AF. So one day I can see myself resenting the idea that my clothes will no be chosen strictly for pragmatic, comfort-related reasons, and I do not have the built in excuse of, "Oh, ya know #breastfeeding life" if they are looking shlumpy.
Nursing In Public
There are a million logistical issues that can go along with this to speak nothing of the crap some moms get when they feed their kids in public spaces. That said, nursing in public has also brought about some lovely conversations between me and other nursing moms or formerly nursing moms or even pregnant women who have questions. It can, under the best circumstances, be a kind of community building activity.
Being Your Child's Sole Source Of Comfort
There was a time when my husband would try to comfort our crying children, and they would just shove him in the face and say, "No! Mommy!" because mommy had the Magical Boobs that brought instant relaxation. Frustrating but, like being constantly needed, it may one day give you the warm fuzzies.
Nostalgia is a weird thing, guys. I can never quite decide if it enables us to see things more clearly, cutting through the inconsequential details that muddle our in-the-moment experience, or if it creates an inaccurately rosy depiction of the past so that we can complain about our present. Perhaps we'll never know the truth, but nostalgia is real and we run the very real chance of having it haunt us once we wean our kids.