My baby girl is 5 months old. She is a beauty. She is calm, happy, sweet, and giggly. She sleeps when I want her to, which is a lot. She loves me. I sure love her. The other day as I was nursing her, I had this intense, almost overwhelming desire to just give it up. I wanted to be free of the pain and the bondage of nursing. And the damage to my physique.

This is the third child I’ve nursed. Both my boys were still nursing a couple of times a day on their 1st birthday. I had gotten comfortable, the pain had ended, I’d been able to exercise and look more normal. I even got to stop wearing those crappy nursing bras that are so incredibly not flattering, since they would nurse first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. They were both around 8 months old when they made the transition to 2 feedings a day.

So I can hold out for 3 more months. I want to give my little girl everything she needs. I know if I stop now, she will probably not suffer any psychological or physiological damage. I probably won’t either. But I can’t imagine spending huge amounts of money on something I can make for free. And I do love holding her, letting her scratch the fats around my waist with her razor-sharp fingernails, seeing her try to grin and suck at the same time, and watching her fall asleep every single time she eats.

And it’s not like I can reverse the damage done to my poor body. I’ve given my pound of flesh. Or I’ve been given my pound(s) of flesh. Manufacturing a person is exhausting. I’ve come to believe that the process has many built-in fail-safes. To protect the developing organism, the mother is made to feel tired, sick, and in pain. The mother is then less likely to engage in dangerous activity. Or any activity. The child is not self-sufficient when it emerges, so the nearly broken parent has time to heal, while the infant continues to grow. Nursing a baby human who eats every couple of hours keeps that mom from going out into the world too soon or too fast, when she would do almost anything to be able to get back on her feet.

I want to break away, but I feel a responsibility to this little person not to. I also need her dependence on me. I know she won’t need me for long. So really, I’m not ready to quit.