A Prayer for the End of Nursing


Post Author: Rachel Wrenn


After Mother and Child, lithograph by Pablo Picasso (1905); charcoal drawing by Austin Shelley (1999)

After Mother and Child, lithograph by Pablo Picasso (1905); charcoal drawing by Austin Shelley (1999)

O Lord, you have searched me
and known me.

You knew the moment when that sweet baby skin
first touched my chest
when that sweet little mouth
gaped like a fish
when that shocking moment of connection was made:
Mother. Child. One.
You knew.

You knew the struggles, and the pain.
The mostly sleepless nights
The one- (two-) (three-) (three-thirty-) a.m. wake-up calls.
The disconcerting, disorientating, barely-functioning
delirium/delusion/hallucination/exasperation/rage…
And still
the sweet baby skin and the gaping little mouth
the instant peace and the murmuring suckling.
You knew.

You knew the feeling of miracle
that awesome moment of realization
that exactly what they need
is exactly what I have in me
and everything that is me
(milk, body, heart, arms)
is given freely to sustain and nurture their life
—and then that awe-full moment of recognition
of deeper appreciation
for the words “this is my body,
given for you.”
This is my body, given for them.
You knew.

You knew the rhythms and the hours
of nursing and pumping
of sleeping and snuggling
of crying and impatience and the frantic, shaky, waving tiny hands
as the shirt gets caught
or the store clerk goes too slow
or a hundred other impediments leap up
between the present moment and MILKRIGHTNOW!
You knew.

You knew the feeling of panic
the counting of bags in the freezer
of hours between pumpings
of ounces in the bottle
of months/weeks/days
until this all could be DONE
secretly knowing how hard it would be
for it all to end.
You knew.

You knew the feeling of gratitude
for those rosy lips, parted in sleep
for that instant smile when we’ve been apart
for the feeling of expansion
of my heart
of my life
of yet another way I will live out my vocation as your child
by stewarding and tending and nurturing my own child;
the awesomeness of being part of your Creation—
quite literally.
You knew.

You knew the twinge
the first twinge
that first moment when they start to pull away
when the solids that were rejected
or tasted and then used as hair gel
become interesting, delicious, good
and the sessions of sleepy suckling snuggling
start to lessen.
You knew.

And you know now
The feeling of wrenching
of tearing
of separateness
because it all is done.
The sadness, the mourning, the loss
interwoven with the relief, the joy, the pride
the cords of reassurance and the embroidery of gratitude
that we made it this far in the breastfeeding marathon
that I gave them this much
that this experience of oneness, of miracle, of struggle
of sleepy suckling snuggling
will live on in my body
as they once lived in my body:
nourished, cherished, cradled
in a safe place of sweet memory and thanksgiving
You know.

And so:
give me comfort
give me peace
give me reassurance
that though this type of sustenance is through
my hands, my body, my heart, my spirit will still be needed
to feed
to quench
to tend
to care
for them.

Just as you do for me.

You knit me together in my mother’s womb:
knit my heart together now.

Amen.


Rachel Wrenn pastors at Prairie Star Ministries, a five-point parish on the prairie in Southwest Minnesota. She grew up in Washington, Minnesota, and Alaska and received a degree in French Literature from Pacific Lutheran University. She attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul and is married to Tim Wrenn, also a pastor. They have a daughter, a son, and two cats.


Image by: Austin Shelley
Used with permission
28 replies
  1. mom of four
    mom of four says:

    Thanks for this poem. Having nursed 4 kids for a combined total of over 4.5 years (and still nursing our youngest now) I really appreciate these words. It’s hard to put into words, as you have so well, how incredible and spiritual it is to care for a baby in this way day in and day out. Your final thoughts… (And so…) are so appropriate and sweet. The end of nursing is so hard yet such a relief. Comfort and reassurance are so very needed.

    Reply
    • Rachel Wrenn
      Rachel Wrenn says:

      Thank you for the wonderful compliment! It is such a spiritual experience, so weighty, so wonderful. Blessing on your continued sleepy snuggling sessions!

      Reply
  2. Jocelyn
    Jocelyn says:

    Oh my goodness! This was amazing! I loved it! I’m in tears as well. My last baby is 2.5yrs old and still wants to latch on, I let her sometimes and the feeling of closeness is amazing, But now I’m pregnant with our last baby and it just brings me to tears to know that I won’t be able too nurse them anymore. But this poems words are exactly how I feel. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  3. Mandy Phillips
    Mandy Phillips says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve read it over and over since I first read it in the middle of the night while up with my own little nursling. It’s so perfect.

    Reply
    • Rachel Wrenn
      Rachel Wrenn says:

      Oh wow, that’s so cool to hear! Enjoy the sweet part of the journey, and may God give you strength during the tough parts!

      Reply
  4. Mike
    Mike says:

    Oh Lord, bless the fathers too. We got up to warm and feed the little one so she could get much needed and well deserved rest. Keep the memory of the tender moments we had with our child alive in us. Keep it fresh and let it strengthen us as they walk away for their lives. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen

    Reply
  5. Leah
    Leah says:

    Stunning. Everything I felt and experienced during the breastfeeding portion of my life. The joy, pain, sacrifice, and grief when it was all over. Thank you for this.

    Reply
  6. Sara
    Sara says:

    The baby of my four children is 9; the oldest is 17. This poem is perfect in so many ways–as much today as it would have been 17 years ago. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Reply
  7. Kristina
    Kristina says:

    My son just weaned himself two nights ago. I had no idea that it was the last time he would nurse. He is 1 year and 1 week old. I am relieved but also very sad that it is gone. This prayer is just what I needed and says everything I have been feeling so very beautifully. Thank you for sharing it!

    Reply
    • Rachel Wrenn
      Rachel Wrenn says:

      Ahh, what an interesting time of independence, isn’t it? Congratulations for making it a year, and a prayer for the mixed emotions that go with it!

      Reply
  8. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Oh, thank you! My youngest (and last!) of my six children weaned herself this year way before I was ready. That was months ago and it still makes me tear up.

    Reply
  9. Fiona
    Fiona says:

    Oh my goodness! I am in tears here! My youngest is almost finished breastfeeding at 15 mths and I thought I was ready. .now after reading this I am sad!! It is a wonderful prayer and one I will continue to pray in the weeks ahead. Thank you Rachel and God bless you.

    Reply

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  1. […] nurturer/sustainer of life. Yet I wouldn’t want it any other way. Rachel Wrenn’s poem, “A Prayer for the End of Nursing” beautifully captures this mix of emotions that I […]

  2. […] By Rachel Wrenn. Originally found here. […]

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