It’s been over a week since Ernie last had a breastfeed so I think I can now safely say that I am no longer a breastfeeding Mum. More strangely and breaking with some odd tradition that nature seems to have put upon us… I am also not pregnant. As soon as I stopped feeding Mabel at 12 months, I fell pregnant with Greta, and as soon as I stopped feeding her at 15 months, Ernie moved in and made himself comfy. So here I am now, at the end of 5 and a half years of continuous pregnancy and breastfeeding and for the first time in a while, well since I started doing it, I’m not growing a baby, I’m not sustaining life… I’m just me.
No longer can I lay any legitimate claim on the biggest slice of cake and my extra lie ins are looking dubious to say the least.
I’m not sure how I feel about it to be honest. There’s a big part of me that yearns to be pregnant again, to feel the excitement of knowing that there is something tiny growing inside me, the very beginning of new life, the biggest thing you could ever fit into the smallest space, just a few cells but so much more than that. But is that what I really truly want? Do I want to go through another pregnancy and all the stresses and strains that would put on my body? Could I cope with another ‘first year’ with the complete and utter exhaustion that would inevitably bring with it? Or do I just think that’s what I want because that has become all I know? Or is this my hormones talking? Is this what my body was designed to do, to make me want another baby as soon as the last one starts to need me a bit less?
And then there’s another even bigger part of me that feels liberated and excited. To get my body back, my sleep back, maybe even a bit of time to myself! I’m looking forward to the plans we can make now that we aren’t working around a due date or a new baby that needs me almost 24/7. Maybe it’s time to start working on something else that isn’t another small human to add to my growing collection. Something that isn’t even this blog. Because as much as I love writing and taking photographs, it’s still all about the family, about my life as Mum. And maybe I need something completely separate, a hobby… like running or knitting(?) or…something! I think it’s time to, slowly but surely, start thinking about what it is that I want from life. My life is 99% wrapped up in the kids and on the most part I’m happy with it that way, I adore all the family time we spend together, but maybe it’s time to just start reclaiming a small bit for myself. Because before I know it they will all be grown up and leading their own lives and how will I know who I am then?
But almost as much as it is exciting, it’s scary! Having a baby feels safe to me, and I know as well as anyone how hard it is, but it’s a well worn path, home territory, business as usual. Somehow, falling pregnant again and repeating the old pattern would in some ways be the easier option. Moving on from making babies requires much more bravery. To draw a line under that part of my life is difficult. And when I see other people getting pregnant and having babies it just makes me think ‘I could do that, I’m good at that!’. Because having babies is kind of my thing, as sad as that is to admit.
But I can’t go on having babies forever. I need a new thing. (But judging by these awkward photos it’s not going to be fashion blogging! ha)
Of course I’m Mum to a 1 year old, 3 year old and 4 year old, I’ll never truly be ‘just me’ ever again. I’ll always feel linked to them straight from my heart to theirs and nothing could ever change that. But now that it’s over, I’m realising just how much being pregnant or breastfeeding had become part of my identity over the last 5 or so years. As much as I’ll always be a Mum, there’s something special about that time when you are just sustaining them with your own body, and I’ll never have that again…. unless number four does decide to make a cheeky appearance (well you never know!)
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