it’s sort of an in-between sleep and awake swirled around place, that milky time between mama and babe, the sum of all those times as the babe is tiny medium bigger biggest oh so big i can’t let him lean over me to get “the other milk” anymore or my rib cage will implode… it’s a blur, it’s a dream, it’s like it’s happening underwater, it just goes on and on and is both always and never changing. it’s mamamilklove. no two consecutive days or even nursing events are alike, there is always change and growth and newness. and yet, from inside it, it feels like it is never going to end and will always be this way forever. it has been years and years after all. zero, one, two, three, four. and to hear it from the only other person who has a say in the matter, “i’ll stop having mama milk when i’m twenty.”

only by standing outside of it once in a while and looking at snapshots in time can you see the change and even then it’s hard and what you can never see, is the thing you sometimes want to see most, which is the future, how the choices i am making now are going to turn out…

and if you make a choice to commit for the long haul and let the child lead or decide you’re making a new name for it called cooperative weaning, which makes it sound more like you’re both leading, but you just happen to be deciding to keep going not rushing him not trying to manipulate the timing… then you are mostly alone and have even fewer mama kindreds to lean on for perspective, besides those snapshots of self that you only have time for… when you’re lying there nursing for a teensy bit longer than you would like, again, and your head is in that milky in between space which is the only way you survived this long.

mamamilklovesnapshot: latching my nicu baby on in spite of the nurses admonitions, in spite of the oxygen thingie still in his nose, deciding once and for all this is my baby and i make the decisions and feeling so empowered by the amount of weight gain from that first time nursing (because of course he got weighed before and after, lest i starve my child, and the nurses were baffled because the numbers were so high they just couldn’t be right.) his complete relaxation, for the first time. mine, too.

mamamilklovesnapshots nursing on buses, in public places, in parks, in parking lots, in bed, in every room, in the sling, in the bathtub, on the toilet, on the floor, at yoga class, at work…


mamamilklovesnapshot: 8 month old dreadfully sick congested baby. thanking all gods and goddesses for mama milk and its healing power.

mamamilklovesnapshot: crying for mama milk turning to beating on my upper chest for mama milk turning to signing for mama milk turning to “mama milk.” (interesting to me how his first word was mama, but milk was one of the last words he learned. i wonder if he figured the two were one in the same for a good long while there in the beginning.)

mamamilklovesnapshot: you turning one and nothing mysteriously happening to make it seem like mama milk should stop.

mamamilklovesnapshot: 15 months and the relief for both of us of nursing all night long, after working all day, my first days back to working away from him full time. his relief: mama came back. my relief: our attachment is going to be okay.



mamamilklovesnapshot: you turning two and nothing mysteriously happening to make us think we should stop. nursing on demand with a toddler who now took up more than my lap, and a good slice of the bed. nursing at the farmer’s market and projecting lots of things and doing lots of internal dialogue.



mamamilklovesnapshot: you turning three. nothing mysteriously happening… many people no longer aware of us nursing at all, since mostly it happened at home. not that we were asking for their opinions anyway. asking to nurse at age 3 at the farmer’s market and me doing my first real delaying. sometimes. offering again later, if i said i would, when it was a good time. nursing for 5 seconds for owies or upsets now is all that it takes. mama relief every time a bug comes through and we are “still” nursing, “still” able to fall back on mama milk to help heal.


mamamilklovesnapshot: you turning four, with nothing mysterious happening. (i’m noticing a pattern and am now confident that age cut-offs are completely arbitrary. i suspected, before, but now i am confident.) no longer asking to nurse out at the farmer’s market. age 4. big boy, stretching that attachment rubber band.

mamamilklovesnapshot: a month ago. napping becoming sporadic. nursing to sleep at bedtime and on days when naps happen. wake up nursing still a long blurry sweet snuggle time. nothing in between (or should i say too much else to stop and have mama milk in between). almost never even for owies. still some middle of the night nursing once in a while.



mamamilklovesnapshot: this week. falling asleep at night listening to me read the hobbit. still telling me the order of nightly business before bed including “potty then brush teeth then read hobbit then milk” but then reading “just one more page” until his eyes close. mama amazement and wonder at watching eyes close without any milk involved whatsoever. almost no more napping. almost no more nursing. almost. wake up snuggle time nursing, as i guessed, is the last holdout. almost. and here comes cold and flu season. and mama doesn’t mind/secretly rejoices about that one time a day, the 5 days a week her boy is waking up with her.

mamamilklovesnapshot: yesterday. yellow jacket stings on his leg. “oww it hurts!!! i’m getting poked a lot of times!” big bad owie owie owie. huddled on mama’s lap getting slathered with baking soda. no mention of mama milk. wow, a mama thinks to herself. wow, this really is going to happen.

15 comments to mamamilklove

  • It's so lovely to be able to allow them to wean themselves. I did this with Isaac too – one week it was everyday, then every other, then once a week and then…done. It's sad, kind of…but when it happens so slowly like this, it's okay to let it go. It really is going to happen, mama. Our babes are growing up. <3
    Debbie recently posted..our autumn garden

    • marybethrew

      debbie- it does make it easier to let go, doesn't it? i think it must also help our bodies physically, letting it go in such a slow and gradual way and letting hormones adjust, etc.

  • Oh! This brought tears to my eyes as I think about nursing my own little one through the coming years. So beautifully written, Mary Beth! Thank you.
    cpcable recently posted..Weekend Review: Purple Leaves, Red Cherries by Tania Elfersy & Andrea Katzman

  • What can I say? That was beautiful. What a journey we get to go on.
    tinsenpup recently posted..Into the Light

  • ah, this is so big, so beautiful. you captured it in words so perfectly…and nothing mysterious happened. like your wee one, fern's love for nummies goes deep and there will be no deciding on her own that "i've had enough". i felt so much love for you, for both of you, in that moment you describe of claiming your maternal knowing, of nursing him despite medical protestations, trusting that deep wisdom that always knows what's best. and that attachment….it really goes both ways, doesn't it? this is such a beautiful post marybeth…thank you so much. i will be coming back to this one, as it feels like solace. xo
    mary recently posted..Squish Squash Squoosh

    • marybethrew

      i couldn't imagine a bigger compliment, mary! solace, wow. that is what i hoped- i hope for my words to touch some other mama, the way a very few mamas' words touched me throughout my journey, in a world where what we are choosing to do is foreign instead of still being just what is done. exactly- and nothing mysterious happened.

  • Love this:

    "i’ll stop having mama milk when i’m twenty."

    And this:

    "deciding once and for all this is my baby and i make the decisions and feeling so empowered by the amount of weight gain"

    And this:

    "you turning one and nothing mysteriously happening to make it seem like mama milk should stop."


    "mama relief every time a bug comes through and we are “still” nursing, “still” able to fall back on mama milk to help heal."


    "mama amazement and wonder at watching eyes close without any milk involved whatsoever."

    What a beautiful post. Yes, wouldn't it be easier if we could know the exact age they would wean? I'm worried what my husband would say if we are still nursing at 4, even though I believe it's purely between the mother and child when weaning occurs. And like you said, the longer you go, the fewer people you know who have nursed that long. It feels so much more like a private thing these days…no one sees him nurse anymore, my mom even thought he had weaned. I guess probably everyone else thinks that, too.

    This post makes me want to write down my own mamamilklovesnapshots before they are all faded away.
    Lisa C recently posted..Raw Pastured vs Conventional Dairy

  • marybethrew

    lisa, you bring up another good reason why the "nothing mysterious happened" has become pretty important to me. and for me it's in retrospect, having had similar anxieties and some angst heaped on from quinn's dad, about arbitrary ages and what it would somehow "mean" if he was "still" nursing at "x" age. both 3 and 4 were like that… well, nothing mysterious happened, and it seems like dada "got it" as well, and he is pretty much one of the only people who even knows quinn is "still" nursing (ha except for the entire internet), and he is never around for it now, so i think for him it just fell out of his awareness. i am sure he would have an issue "if he is still nursing at 5" but maybe it is so below the level of awareness now that he is not choosing that battle with me, or maybe it is yet to come as 5 approaches more closely. my point is, it shouldn't be a battle, and angst doesn't help the process whatsoever. 🙂

  • He's only mentioned it twice, really, but both times it was clear he did not approve of nursing past two-ish. He's not said anything recently, I get the feeling he doesn't like it but perhaps he sees that it's not hurting anything, either.
    Lisa C recently posted..Farm Fresh and Homegrown

  • marybethrew

    somehow i don't picture your husband being very outwardly disapproving… still, being quietly reserved about it, while tolerable, is a different sort of thing than open embrace.

  • 'still, being quietly reserved about it, while tolerable, is a different sort of thing than open embrace.'

    so true.
    Lisa C recently posted..Farm Fresh and Homegrown

  • And now that I'm sitting here dissolved into a little puddle of tears, I want to say thank you for sharing such beautiful memories. My little milk baby will be 4yo in December, and I can relate to some of your more recent feelings – he only nurses to sleep for the occasional nap and at night, and it's such a bittersweet feeling to know that it will end soon. Thank you for putting everything so perfectly.

  • Beautiful! Have this adventure in front of me, starting in February…

  • […] of that mama to attempt to normalize a normal human behavior, a behavior i spent 59 months of my life doing, and i support every mama who is on this mama journey and putting her best foot forward, […]

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