It is a word I hear, often, among mothers who have breastfed multiple babies. For the longest I wondered how "breastfeeding" and "healing" could possibly be used together.
When I was pregnant with my oldest, I knew without question that I would be breastfeeding her. She was born with no complications. A cute little thing and her eyes were wide open for those first hours of her life. Our nurse encouraged me to try her first feeding which was very unsuccessful. We tried and tried again. I pumped a TON, determined to not give her a drop of formula.
5 months flew by and there we were. Me still trying to get her to latch and her looking up at me in confusion, with those sweet little eyes. Each failed attempt ended with dad feeding her a bottle while I sat pumping. We did that for her entire first year. I was broken. I had missed so many moments bonding with her because I was attached to a machine. I wondered what was wrong with me that I hadn't been able to nurse my baby.
Once her first birthday rolled around and I was able to give her other types of milk, I began to push those thoughts to the back burner. About 6 month later I found out that I was pregnant with baby number two. Again, I knew that I'd be breastfeeding.
I met my son on his birth day, with a renewed sense of hope. THIS baby was going to latch. I laid in our birthing room bed with him on my chest. Skin-to-skin. He began to root and found my breast. He latched immediately. I felt so releived. Two hours later, he was STILL nursing. I'd unlatch him with my finger and he'd find his way back. He spent his first days of life eating non-stop. I was in so much pain by the time I was discharged that I knew something wasn't right. I'd developed thrush.
After a few months of battling improper latches, thrush, and an array of other complications that can arise in those early months of breastfeeding. We were finally learning what and what not to do. My baby was growing and I wasn't having to pump as much.
Fast forward to one year...
I am now faced with that inevitable question of when to stop breastfeeding. I've made it 12 months and now what? There is no expiration date. My son is happy and his comfort is found in my arms. Who am I to take that away from him? Why should I be so quick to end something that I fought so hard to get a grasp on?
A sweet mom once shared these words, "Why, after all, would one rush to end something so tender and sweet? One wouldn't tear the petals of a rose in order to make it open more quickly, right? We don't have to rush a transition that is already in the works."
I agreed with her. I also realized in what way my healing had taken place. Turns out it wasn't just about being able to physically breastfeed a child. For me, it's more about relinquishing control. The old me, always needed to be in control of everything in every moment. Breastfeeding two children (one by way of pumping exclusively and the other by nursing) has shown me that we cannot control every thing.
So, for now, I will continue nursing him, healing, and letting the chips fall where they may.
Below photos by Katherine Lea of clubscottie.com.