When I was pregnant, everyone prepared me for many of the hardships that come along with having a baby – labor and delivery, the recovery, the sleepless nights, etc.
No one prepared me for the journey of breastfeeding.
“Of COURSE I’ll breastfeed!” I said while pregnant, never really giving it a second thought.
Everyone tells you how it’s the best thing to do for your baby, the perfect combination of nutrients for a newborn, it’s FREE, you should do it at least ‘til your baby is one, blah blah blah.
What NO ONE tells you is how hard it is.
How it is one of the most selfless things you will ever do for your child.
How you can crack, and bleed, and become infected, and feel like they’re going to fall off when your newborn starts nursing.
How you can get thrush (three times! even when your baby is 11 ½ months old!) and have random sharp boob jabs and even more painful nursing sessions.
How you can get mastitis (twice!) and literally feel like you’ve been run over by a train while being stomped on by a herd of elephants. (Do elephants herd?)
How all of these things can happen simultaneously, and meanwhile, since your husband unfortunately doesn’t also produce breastmilk, you’re the only one who can meet your newborn’s needs when she has to eat every two hours over, and over, and over again.
How sometimes, for some babies, getting the hang of breastfeeding with the proper latch and without nipple shields can take weeks, or even months.
How you’re hungrier and are supposed to consume more calories when you’re breastfeeding than when you’re pregnant.
How you often have to completely alter your diet and watch what you eat and drink because certain things don’t agree with your little one.
How your tiny little innocent baby eventually gets teeth and, well, the pain starts all over again.
How, if you’re a working mama, your day revolves around pumping. And pumping. And pumping. And wondering why you’re not pumping enough. And worrying how you’ll ever pump enough.
How you really will cry over spilled milk.
And yet here I stand, just a few weeks away from calling it quits, from reaching my goal of one year… and I’m a little sad about letting it all go.
Because despite all of those hardships I just mentioned, there’s nothing quite like looking down at your sweet baby in the quiet of a still morning, and it’s just you, and her, and nothing else in the world matters even the tiniest bit.
If you remember, we struggled for ten long, painful, tearful, frustrating weeks. I’m not sure how I made it without throwing in the towel… But I’m so glad I was stubborn enough to not give up. I’m SO proud of myself, SO proud of Cameron.
As we head toward the end of this chapter, I honestly have mixed emotions. I’m definitely a little hesitant to let go of this bond with my sweet girl, but I’m also looking forward to having my body back to myself… I haven’t had my body to myself since the word “pregnant” popped up on that stick on a cold January morning.
I’m excited to live a life without nursing bras, and nursing tanks, and breast pads, and painful nipples, and leaks, and pumping, and engorgement, and that pins and needles feeling. I’m excited to let my body readjust and get back on track and function properly so maybe we can consider giving our little girl a sibling. And honestly, I’m excited to live a life where I can eat and drink whatever I want, whenever I want.
It’s been quite a journey with you, breastfeeding. We’ve had our ups and downs. I must say, the ups have made the downs totally worth it. Because though it’s been tough at times (and that’s putting it lightly), being able to provide my little girl with her main source of nutrition for her first year of life has been incredible. Watching her gain weight, knowing that every ounce and chubby thigh roll came from my body was unbelievable. Seeing her learn the sign for “milk” and use it to tell me when she was hungry left me in awe. Having that quiet time with her, knowing that she needed me and depended on me was indescribable.
But here we are… at the end of our road. Our relationship has run its course, and it’s time for things to come to an end.
It was good while it lasted.
And let’s be real, breastfeeding – I kicked your *ss.