Breastfeeding and I were not friends. Ok, fine, I totally tried to get breastfeeding to like me, but it was like, um, NO.
We certainly did not have an easy relationship: poor latch, poor weight gain, clogged ducts by the dozen, mastitis three times, pumping after every feeding. There were many, many times I asked myself why I kept going. The fact that I was so strung out about it certainly couldn’t have been great for the baby. Yet, I continued.
I continued for six months, at which point Colette decided she was done with nursing, thankyouverymuch. Now that I know her a little better, I’m kind of surprised it took that long for her to stop. Nursing requires a sister to focus for longer than 2.5 seconds. You can’t look around when you’re nursing. You can’t squawk at the dog. You can’t investigate every noise within a three-room radius. You kind of just have to chill, and my girl is not a chiller. I continued to pump for another two months after she peaced out and then called the whole milk-making thing quits.
Am I glad that I continued to nurse, even though it was anything but smooth sailing?
I’m not saying that just because it was good for the baby. Of course it was good for the baby to have that bonding time, and to get all of those mama’s milk nutrients. That goes without saying, really.
Because here’s the thing: breastfeeding was good for me. What I’m about to say is going to win me the Most Dramatic Statement of the Century Award, but here goes:
Breastfeeding saved me.
The first few months after Colette was born, I don’t even know where I was. I think of that time and it’s a big blur. There was the usual sleep deprivation and craziness that goes along with a newborn. And then my mom died. I’m pretty sure I had an out of body experience for an entire four months. I mean, I was out of it. I was scared. I was sad. I thought I was never going to feel better ever again.
Except for when I was breastfeeding. That was the only time during those first few months when I felt at peace. I was right where I was supposed to be: feeding my baby, holding my baby. In those moments, I was doing the right thing. I was loving her and caring for her and cherishing her. It was just me and the baby, me and the baby, and nothing else mattered. It was the only time I felt grounded. And, if I’m going to be honest, it was the only time I felt hopeful.
So now, despite all the crap that went along with it, I look at my time nursing Colette as a gift. It was my anchor, and through it I was able to find my way back to myself.