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Saying Goodbye to Breastfeeding

 

I keep asking myself, is this it? Could this be the last time we nurse? Because at any moment now, you may not come toddling back to me.

I thought I’d embrace the freedom that comes with weaning, but it’s hard to let go. Nursing has been your home base when the world outside the two of us feels too big to take in. And now I realize, it’s been my secret place of refuge too.

I know it wasn’t always like this. I still remember the beginning. Counting the minutes, desperately wishing the time would stop dragging on. I sobbed my way through every 2am feeding. Uncomfortable and awkward, my nipples cracked and my back ached. I never imagined I could be both completely overwhelmed and desperately bored at the same time. No one told me it’d be so lonely, even though I was never alone.

Then, somewhere in that mess, we got into a rhythm. We started to know one another. I learned to follow your lead, to finally trust my body, then we fell into sync. Now there’s so much comfort in the routine.

Sure, I’m sick of button downs and V-neck tee shirts. And I’ll want to burn my hideous nursing bras when it’s all said and done. But I’m tired of people asking if I’m excited to “get my body back.” The truth is, my body will never be just my own again. There’s a smile-shaped scar on my belly to remind me of that. My head will never be quiet now that it’s perpetually filled with mom-worry. You are indeed my heart beating outside my chest.

Maybe one day you’ll be a nursing mom. If so, I won’t ask you to stop scrolling facebook during those middle of the night feedings. Or to ignore the painful clogged ducts. I won’t ask you to smile through the bites. Or to enjoy the crack of dawn pumping sessions.

But I’ll tell you to remember the way the baby’s weight feels when she drifts off to sleep nursing in your arms. I’ll tell you to remember the victory dance you did the first time you managed feeding without the pillow. I’ll tell you to laugh when you become a one-woman show trying to keep your distracted babe interested in the breast. Then I’ll tell you to embrace the feeling of being so needed. Because that feeling is what’s hardest to grasp in the beginning, and then the hardest thing to let go of at the end.

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