Our ANR Journey One Year Later: Lessons Learned (and Re-visited)

One year ago today, Mr. S and I made one of the most rewarding choices in our life as a married couple–to re-open a committed and dedicated ANR, an experience that we’d shared throughout the course of our long and very happy marriage, that led to our decision to pursue the journey of re-lactation. We spent long moments over the weekend, strolling down memory lane, neither of us able to believe that an entire year has passed–or how much things have changed in that amount of time. With the arrival of our one-year nursing anniversary (or is that our ANR-iversary?) came a lot of joy, and the opportunity for me to reflect on the things I’ve learned, and been reminded of, since our journey began.

1. Love can grow stronger.

I have been in love with Mr. S since the moment we met. For 17 years, he has been my dearest friend and faithful companion, my steadfast calm in the midst of life’s storms. Over the years, we have learned to remain true to who we are as individuals while becoming one within our marriage. While love did not bloom from the re-opening of our ANR, the experience has allowed it to blossom and grow stronger with every passing moment. It has given us the opportunity to re-visit our commitment to one another, to prioritize and re-evaluate what is most important in our marriage, and the chance to fall in love all over again.

2. The fulfillment of mutual needs and desires.

Since the beginning of our marriage, Mr. S and I have done our very best to place the other’s needs above our own, and this has not always come without a bit of personal sacrifice. By sharing a loving ANR, we have been given the chance to lie together on an even plane, mutually fulfilling the other’s needs and desires, selflessly and without sacrifice.

3. A re-birth of intimacy.

Mr. S and I have shared many intimate moments over the course of our marriage; together, we have created three children, and he has stood by my side, watching as I brought them into the world; we have shared joy and grief, celebrated all we have gained and mourned what we have lost, weathered big ups and little downs, but very little has provided the bond and intimacy that breastfeeding has allowed us to share. To be able to comfort, nurture, and nourish him both emotionally and physically has emboldened and empowered me, has made me even more aware of my femininity, and never have I felt more grateful to be a woman.

4. Nothing can truly impede a dedicated nursing relationship.

Over the past year, we have encountered some challenges along the path of our journey, but by staying true to ourselves and our ultimate relationship goals, I have found that very little can truly impede the loving suckling experience. There have been minor set-backs, a need to shift and juggle at times, but these little curves of inconvenience have taught me so much about persistence and determination, reminding me what is most important in my life. It is so wonderful to remember that I am able to accomplish anything I set my mind to, including the ability to provide the gift of breast milk to the man I love. This newfound understanding has erased doubt and uncertainty, bolstered my confidence, and helped me remain both centered and grounded. I have changed so much in just a year’s time, and I like the woman I have become. Having the opportunity to share my journey with others has been a true blessing in my life; although I am still quite shy and very private, my writing and podcasting efforts have helped to draw me from my shell, giving me a self-assurance that I never dreamed possible–and I’m very grateful for these things.

5. Patience is a virtue.

When I began to blog about my ANR, I chose to describe my experience as a journey because, to me, that is precisely what it was: a beautifully magical adventure filled with learning experiences, self-discovery, and unexpected side trips along the way. When we chose to make breast milk together, Mr. S and I gazed into the horizon where lactation awaited, a glimmering destination that we hoped to reach someday. Even though we didn’t know what our future might hold as we began our journey, we chose to stop and enjoy the lovely sights along the way; in doing so, we shared so many joys and blessings, re-familiarized ourselves with one another, and grew, both as individuals and as a couple, and when we finally reached our ultimate goal of achieving full lactation, it was one of the most moving and wholly satisfying moments we have shared. Patience played a very important role in more than just my personal life. It has taken a year to create the Bountiful Fruits nursing community, a year to gain the trust of others, who, like Mr. S and me, have not always found the acceptance and understanding and respect that is deserved within this very private, exquisitely unique, and often highly questioned “alternative” lifestyle choice. I understand the need for privacy, the inability to come forward, the reluctance to openly share such a personal part of your life, and one of the brightest moments in my professional life came just a month ago when I was praised as a “highly respected member of the ANR community”. It was humbling, emotionally moving, a moment I will always cherish, one I will never forget. My dream is to tend to this community so that it flourishes; I will do this with perseverance and patience–and with great hope for the future.

6. You meet people in the most unexpected ways.

I have been blessed to meet many wonderful new people over the past year; some are acquaintances, others have become dear friends, and I never dreamed that during this stage of my life, I would be given such an amazing gift, acquired simply by blogging. No matter the realm of our relationship, whether you are the occasional reader, everyday follower, once-in-a-while emailer, or forever friend, each of you holds a special place in my life–and I am thankful for you.

I never believed that a simple blog launched from a small platform on a warm spring day would blossom into what Bountiful Fruits has become today, but it has truly been a wonderful year. To those of you who have been with me since the beginning, and to those who are joining me now, I thank you warmly, from the bottom of my heart, for your unfailing support and encouragement. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be your guide along the less-traversed paths of the adult nursing relationship.

I look forward to sharing another year with you.

❤️

The Loving Milk Maid