A Goodbye to Breastfeeding

Full disclosure: I’ve never been a #BreastIsBest crusader. I truly, deeply believe that how a mother chooses to feed her children is her decision and I don’t want to is a good enough explanation for not choosing to nurse. Motherhood is so hard, I can’t understand for one single second why we judge each other for bottle vs. breast. So, bottle-feeding moms, please do not feel in any way judged or condemned by my sadness about our nursing journey coming to an end. I know, just like you, that my abilities and strengths as a mother go way, way further than my boobs. 

This has been a long time coming. We’ve battled a zillion drops in supply (fought with Fenugreek, lactation cookies, and a million hours attached to a pump), two bouts of mastitis (OUCH), and nursing strikes. But, now, it’s time. I know it, Holly knows it. As much as I love the bond that we’ve established (her and I are like peas and carrots), nursing is starting to bring us more problems than I feel its worth. Still, two days ago, when she nursed for the last time, my heart was in absolute shambles.

I didn’t plan on breastfeeding being so important to me. I did it simply because I knew, nutritionally, it was the best option. Heck, it was also free and formula is hella expensive. I committed to 6 months and feel so incredibly grateful to have made it as long as we did. Along the way, nursing Holly became more than just “doing best” for her. It also became a way for me to slow down, to snuggle, to catch up on scripture or The Kardashians (If you’re judging that juxtaposition, I don’t blame you). My husband will tell you that I’m not great at slowing down, at soaking things in. But nursing demands it. It demands you feed yourself (otherwise your supply suffers) and it biologically demands that you take care of yourself. That you stay hydrated. That you not be too stressed. That you get enough sleep.

Slowly but surely, nursing sessions became my favorite parts of the day. I marveled in the way her hands would search for my face, the way she’d smile in between sucks, the feeling of her breath slowing as nursing sunk her into a deep sleep. The books, the blogs, they were all right about breastfeeding: it gives as much to the mom as it does to the baby. It kept her (mostly) healthy when Finn brought home many toddler bugs, and the way she flourished made me so proud. I am so proud that, between pregnancy and breastfeeding I sustained a life – using only my body! – for well over a year. How amazing is that?

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But now, for many reasons, I feel the time has come to stop. Since she was introduced to a bottle, she has little patience for the breast (which is slower) and now that she’s mobile and active, her desire to cuddle me long enough to last a whole nursing session has dwindled. And, because I’ve been her only food source for so long, she’s pretty much against anyone else coming near her, and I’m ready to share her (KINDA) with her dad and grandparents.

I am ready. I think she’s ready. Ten months was a good run. I’m proud of myself. Still, I’m sad and will miss this incredible bond she and I have forged. I hope this won’t be the last time I nurse a baby, because it really is the most amazing experience.

She may not be at my breast anymore, but she is always and still my baby.

New mamas, I know it’s hard. Your nipples are bleeding, you don’t know what you’re doing; you’re sleep deprived and it hurts. Stick with it. Just a few more weeks, and I promise you, you won’t regret it. I am so glad I did.

 

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