Friday, June 8, 2012

we put away the boppy

"Lydia, did you want to nurse?"

first latch

but did I cry? No. I didn't get as emotional as I thought I would about something so poignantly life-changing. we are done nursing, the boppy is put away, any evidence that I was a breast-feeding mother has been shoved in a closet to await another baby; my pump parts sterilized, boppy pillow stuffed behind Lyd's 4T clothes, bottles and nursing pads bagged and stored.

this was a massive chapter in my life, one filled with the amazing feeling that I was doing something so good for my daughter. in the beginning I was defensive and angry that more mothers didn't breastfeed; in retrospect it was probably my frustrations with the whole process that contributed more to my anger than anything else. as we established a routine and nursing was second nature I lost the anger and replaced it with a less-than-subtle (but slightly more tactful) passion for wanting to make breastfeeding a possibility for every mother whose goals were unrecognized.

here we are now, finished at almost two years old, and I am a breastfeeding counselor for public health. it's a supplemental income, but I wish beyond anything that it was much more than that. it's an emotionally charged job, the feelings about breastfeeding in this area are so convoluted. I hear so many "well, we'll try, but if it doesn't work out, it's ok"'s. I hear "Formula is just as good. I never nursed my other kids and this one won't be different." I hear from moms who have suffered sexual abuse, who couldn't bear the thought of having someone attached to their breast. and then I get moms who are champs, maybe it was difficult to get it going at first, but they rose to the challenge. honestly, the best successes are the small ones, they lead to the bigger victories. one of my clients called me yesterday to tell me that she made it through the day (she has a one-week-old and is dealing with figuring out the best positions to navigate around a c-section), and asked if I could come over to a) give her a hug and b) make sure baby was latched right. we make it through one day, and then another, and another...until you wake up one morning and realize you've been nursing almost two years.

all I have learned about breastfeeding: its superior nutritional content, the bonding time with your baby, the calorie burn your body sustains to make milk, all of it boils down to this--it was the best thing I did for Lydia. she is bright and healthy, our baby is growing up into such a fun little girl. I will miss (ok NOW I'm getting all weepy) our nursing time, but, like Lydia, I feel that this chapter of our lives has closed succinctly and appropriately.

how did you deal with your baby weaning? did you baby-led wean like we did, or try another approach?

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