Last night I sat with my husband after putting my youngest to bed. She nursed to sleep. I sat at the table next to him, and with no expression told him that her nursing sessions were getting shorter and shorter and I could see the end coming near.
She is 14 months, almost the same age as my other two girls when they ended their breastfeeding journey.
A flood of emotions took over took me. It was hard to swallow. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.
“Aren’t you happy?” he said to me as he pulled me closer.
“You should be so proud”
I was. So incredibly proud. This journey was indeed filled with difficult moments and aside from it all I was able to exceed the goal I had set for myself when I was pregnant with my first almost 5 years ago. I didn’t take one minute for granted, I knew how delicate this gift was, the gift of feeding my daughter, because so many women that were close to me had struggled in so many ways. That made this even more bitter sweet. I didn’t always love the journey but I couldn’t grasp the idea that it was coming to an end. I had fallen in love with these moments. I had learned to love the imperfections of this experience and really be present with my daughter. This time was slipping between my fingers and before I knew it this would all be a distant memory. That emotion was too heavy to bear.
My oldest will turn 5 in just a few months, but it still feels like yesterday when I first brought her to my breast. The books and the articles and the blogs couldn’t prepare me for the joy and the fear I would feel the very first time the doctors placed this 6 pound baby in my arms. I taught her, and she taught me, and together we adapted best we could. With each girl I learned something new and also struggled in a different way. I went into the arrival of each baby fully prepared with the idea of what my journey would look like and realized that I actually knew nothing at all. This was especially true with my youngest Hazel (you can read about her condition HERE). It is even more the reason I am an advocate for women arming themselves with information and support. Every journey is different and we shouldn’t have to do it alone.
My journey has been a long one. 45 months, feeding 3 baby girls, and each journey giving me it’s own curveballs. Each journey starting differently and ending differently. I had days that I cried and I had days I yearned for that connection. The sweet smell of their hair as they nestled up to me. I couldn’t believe how much joy and stress could come from one moment. I remember the ease I felt, almost without a worry in the world as I nursed Lucille and the pit in my stomach on the day she told me she didn’t want any more milk. I remember the sweet moments cuddled up to my beautiful Edith and the resentment that built because my breast was the only way she would find comfort. I remember the day I looked at my baby Hazel and the feeling that her lack of weight gain and severe jaundice were a sign of my failure as a mother. 3 different breastfeeding journeys, and without the support I am not sure if any of them would have been the same.
Throughout those 45 months I struggled with supply, jaundice, latch, clogged ducts, night feedings, gas, learning to nurse under a cover, pumping, two of the three not taking the bottle and the list goes on with things I probably have removed from my memory. It might sound like a lot but really its easy street compared to the journey of many other mothers.
The mothers who cry because their nipples are cracked and bleeding.
The mothers who cry because they have taken everything out of their diet and their baby still has severe reactions to their milk.
The mothers who cry because of over-supply, or under-supply or just because they feel like they can never get a handle on their supply.
The mothers who cry because no matter how much special teas they drink or special foods they eat they just don’t make enough.
The mothers who cry because they sit there alone, in a dark room, listening to the rhythmic sounds of their pump, questioning how much longer they can do this.
The mothers who cry because they just don’t want to breastfeed and they are sick and tired of the judgement.
The mothers who cry because they scan the formula aisle wondering how they are going to be able to afford it.
The mothers who cry because they feel trapped when only their breast can comfort their children. The terrifying feeling of never being able to leave.
The mothers who cry because feeding your baby is hard work and with the stress of it all the only thing building is resentment instead of love.
The mothers who cry because they reached the goal they never thought they would; 1 week, 1 month, 1 year.
The mothers who cry because of disappointment and failure, put on them by others but mostly by themselves.
Everywhere there are mothers crying, because despite their differences their journey is actually the same. A mother yearning for help to make the best decision possible for their children. This is why I am so excited to share this amazing resource with all of you.
Happy Family Infant Feeding Platform is a site dedicated to helping you succeed at your feeding goals, whatever they might be. The goal of this platform is to arm you with the information to help make breastfeeding a reality. But they know firsthand that it isn’t always possible or easy, so Happy Family wants to provide the support and tools to feel confident with your feeding journey.
Despite all of my struggles I only have one picture in my mind of these past 45 months. Two beautiful eyes glaring up at me. A curl of her lip as our eyes meet. Almost as though she was telling me something. Thanking me. Letting me know that together we can conquer it all. Yes I fed my baby with my breast. You might be feeding your baby with a bottle. Regardless of what your journey looks like we all see those beautiful eyes looking up at us. Thanking us for loving them so much as we do. Thanking us for sacrificing all that we have and crying those tears. In this moment, all those tears melt away and all that is left is us. A mother and a baby. There isn’t a more beautiful thing in the world.
If you are a formula feeding mom here is a great resource for you :