Dear Breastfeeding

Dear Breastfeeding,

It has been weeks since I last saw you. I didn’t know our last encounter would be the final one, but that darling little girl decided 15 months was quite enough time to nurse, and she was ready to call it quits.

There was a time when I didn’t think I’d miss you. In fact, there was a time I wished for our relationship to come to an abrupt halt.

In those first days, I kind of hated you. I hated how you made me feel, both physically and emotionally. I was bleeding, cracked, and chapped, and you made me mutter the most profane words every time my baby latched on to my tender and tired chest. I hated how you made me feel like a failure for not loving the whole experience and for dreading every nursing session. You made me feel inadequate and like less of a mother, and I resented you for a long time.

But I kept up our acquaintance – whether out of pride or fear or guilt – I kept it up. After a few weeks and a lip and tongue tie correction for my little one, I didn’t dread our encounters so much. You still confused me to no end what with waking up with breasts as hard as coconuts and 3 am pumping sessions just to find some relief. But we were working together. Maybe we didn’t like each other, but we weren’t enemies anymore.

Then around the five-month mark you were a bit of a tool and gave me a string of nightmares. Clogged ducts, milk blebs, a yeast infection the doctor said wasn’t actually a yeast infection, leaving me helpless to figure out what the hell that horrific shooting pain keeping me up at night was.

Again, you subsided your animosity toward me and showed signs of friendliness again. By then, the darling baby girl was starting to consider solid foods, and you and I became far less dependent on one another. I think that helped our relationship, making it less strained and stressful.

By the time she was approaching a year, we almost called it quits for good. When the little one decided to start biting the hand (or boob) that fed her every time I tried to nurse, I thought the end was nigh. We were two weeks shy of our year-long goal – so maybe this should go ahead and be the end? And as I contemplated ending our acquaintance, I felt my heart start to hurt and my uterus clench in protest.

Lo and behold, I knew I’d miss you, and I wasn’t ready for you to leave. I’d long for the quiet mornings and evenings we spent together, rocking slowly and gently in my baby’s dimly lit room, pouring a little bit of my soul and substance into hers. I’d wish for the days of looking down at her chubby face and her legs that had grown impossibly long and fallen off the nursing pillow she used to occupy so little of, and I’d miss you.

And you pulled through. Her one-week bite-mom-fest ended, and I got a few more months with you. This time we were dear friends. We’d been to hell and back together, and now we were on one final tour, enjoying what time we had left. It brought me a joy and fulfillment I’d never known before. Instead of stress, frustration, pain, or failure, you gave me an intimacy and peace that is a gift restricted solely to motherhood.

Our last months together felt like a reward for the first months of hell. I didn’t think I’d look back on you fondly, much less look forward to meeting again one day with any other babies, but I do. My heart will always swell with joy when I think of being able to pour a bit of my own life into my baby girl’s, and it has given me a bond with her that is fearfully strong and mighty powerful.

So thank you, dear friend. I wish our time had started a little more easily, but I will forever be grateful to you for enduring with me, and for giving me some of the sweetest moments of maternal joy I could have ever hoped for.

Until we meet again,

Becca

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