I always assumed I would breastfeed -- naively so, not giving a second thought as to any potential barriers or complications. And thankfully, even with a few small hiccups like tongue tie and delayed milk production, I was able to do just that. But I never expected how empowering and important I would find breastfeeding in my journey of becoming a new mom to this tiny human.
In the first few days of being home, we had to have our son on a light bed 24 hours a day to treat his jaundice. His only break, and my only chance to hold him, was every 2 hours in order to breastfeed him. I remember counting down the minutes, the seconds, until I could release him from the light-bed-prison, to hold him in my arms and feed my baby. And I could only imagine the heartache other mamas felt when their babies faced much more serious and confining situations.
It was in those sweet, and what felt like fleeting moments that I became in awe of that time my son and I had together. I walked into breastfeeding with no goals other than to try, no expectations or plans to do it on-demand or on a schedule; but it was in that time that I think my feelings and expectations of our breastfeeding relationship changed. After he was cleared to leave that light bed forever, I was determined to hold him and feed him at any and every chance possible.
We breastfeed on-demand for 18 months. And I enjoyed it (though I will admit I had moments of wondering if my body would ever be the same again or ever feel like my own). I felt empowered that I was able to provide nutrition and comfort to my child, and was/am eternally grateful for the pacifying-superpower that breastfeeding afforded me on several long, cross-country flights.
But no one told me how hard it would be when that breastfeeding relationship ended. I was blindsided! I think I cried about it for 2 months before we even started the weaning process, and before that I spent months agonizing over what it would mean for our relationship and if it was selfish of me to initiate weaning.
I read blog posts, mommy boards, articles -- I wanted to know the secret to weaning in the most painless way possible. And, like most things in parenthood and life: different strokes. I settled on what seemed best for both my son and myself and we embarked on the end of our breastfeeding journey. And within 2 weeks, it was over, and a new chapter of our relationship began.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT?! Despite my doubts, worries, and sleepless nights: WE ARE OKAY. WE ARE GREAT.
Whether by your choice, your child’s choice, or other factors beyond your control, and whether at 2 weeks or 2 years -- it’s okay to feel all the emotions about the end of that chapter of your relationship (and you are in good company!). But also know, it will be okay on the other side of it all. We may not breastfeed any more, and my baby may look more like a little boy with each passing moment, but being on the other side of breastfeeding has helped me see that the bond exists and persists. And I still feel connected as ever to my little boy.