One year ago, you entered my life. And you’ve been a pain in my neck ever since (seriously, breastfeeding posture gives me a crick).
In the beginning, you were awkward and confusing. Sure, I was lucky the boy took to you like a duck to water. But I did not. I had to constantly wonder how much milk he was getting and try to keep my sleepy snacker awake long enough to get a “full feed.” I still have no idea how much a “full feed” actually is. After all, the girls are not equipped with measuring cups. Still, he gained weight, so I figure he got what he needed.
Do you feel like maybe we spent too much time together? Almost every waking hour for the first 2 months? And then, several times a day (and night) for a whole year. I needed some personal space from you, but didn’t get much. Why didn’t I just get a babysitter more often? Because the boy wouldn’t take a bottle, Breastfeeding. That’s why. You just had to be so irresistible that he wanted nothing else. Usually, he wouldn’t even take bottles from his dad. Dad couldn’t take a night shift for several months. When I’d hear him snoring in the other room, I resented you, Breastfeeding.
And the 2 months of colic. Was that your fault? Deep down, I still blame you…Remember how stressed I was and how I tried to cut dairy and adjust my diet but it didn’t work? Not much can come between me, cheese, and ice cream but you tried to. Man, I hated you for that.
While we’re on the subject of things I hated you for, allow me to rattle off a few. I hated my nursing wardrobe but didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on new clothes. None of my “before baby” pants fit and I couldn’t even use dresses as a solution. It’s frowned upon to pull a dress up over your head in public. I hated having to plan my outfits around whether it was nursing-friendly or not. At least my cover-up was cute. Too bad he constantly pulled it off, though. It was like a sauna.
Pumping? Major time suck. He wouldn’t take a bottle, remember? I pumped so that I could attempt to give him a bottle so that I could dump it down the drain. What was the point of that?
I haven’t forgotten about the mastitis, either. How could I? I had it 3 times. Nursing through the pain, sweating buckets, feeling faint…It was awful. Teething wasn’t much better. You just expect me to sit there and take it while my son repeatedly bites me, Breastfeeding? Really?
I’m sorry this letter has the tone of hate mail. It’s just that you put me through the wringer. The part that really ticks me off is that the whole point of this letter is for me to tell you good riddance. I just can’t figure out why I’m crying while I say good-bye. Maybe it’s just the hormones (those are your fault, too). Or maybe, deep down, I don’t hate you as much as I think I do.
I know some women do not choose you, Breastfeeding. I understand that. No judgement or mom shaming here! I also know there are women who choose you but you do not cooperate. That makes me feel like maybe I took you for granted. I forgot that you are a gift. A privilege. What an honor to be able to offer my very self to sustain my baby. When I was pregnant, I remember feeling in awe of how God made a woman’s body. I remember feeling so powerful. I could grow and sustain a life. Breastfeeding, you offered an amazing extension of that miracle. I was given one more year to provide the nourishment my baby needed. Thank you.
When I was in the midst of it, it was easy to focus on how much you took from me. But, now that I’m weaning the boy, I realize how much you gave me. Intimate snuggles with the little life that I had a hand in creating. Day by day, he’s gaining independence. As the years pass, he’ll move farther away from me. But for one year, Breastfeeding, you kept him close.
I discovered that you are like a lot of things in my life. Working my way through college, getting an advanced degree, launching a career, training for a half marathon, buying a house and keeping it up, building and maintaining a loving marriage. Everything I’ve ever done that was worth doing required a substantial investment and a lengthy commitment. Sacrifice yields blessings. You are no different, Breastfeeding. In the words of Jimmy Dugan on A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” You were hard, Breastfeeding. But, you were also great. One of the greatest things I’ve ever done.
Maybe I’m not really trying to say good riddance. Maybe it’s more like, good-bye for now. Thanks for the memories. Until next time.