I love this photo because it pretty much sums up how I feel about the journey that Elle and I have had with breastfeeding. As we approach the one year mark, I have been thinking about it almost daily. Something about the whole experience is filling me with the untamable urge to research, write, support and share, for two main reasons. The 1st reason being… in the beginning, it SUCKED! No sugar coating or rose colored glasses. It was one of the hardest things I have ever conquered. But that is what we did, Elle and I together. We conquered it. Through months of aggressive latching issues from my little piranha and long sleepless nights of pain and tears. There were days I started crying before we even sat down to nurse. I was exhausted, it was going to hurt, but she was hungry. And I felt a little isolated, like I was the only mom who couldn’t get it right the first time. It wasn’t due to any lack of support. I had amazing women in my life loving and supporting me, but I knew they must just be telling me it was normal, and that it would pass just to make me feel better. But in the end, no matter what, I knew without a doubt that it was the best thing for my baby. (Notice I said MY baby, I’m really trying to stop the “mommy wars” as I recently saw it called, and not judge other moms for their decisions made for reasons only they themselves understand.) But by God we did it. And one day, just like that, it was like a switch flipped and I was crying for the opposite reason. The second reason why I feel I have to support other momma’s out there.
One day it stopped hurting. One day it became the most cherished part of my day. To know that I was giving my child so many precious gifts all in one moment, that I was meeting all of her needs in one single action. Love, trust, comfort and the best nourishment for her physical and emotional needs. And that is what I want other moms to know. That they are NOT alone, and it was all worth it. ALL of it. I would have endured many more months of the tears to know we would reach that breakthrough day. One day my fear of making it to our 1 year goal just vanished. One year seemed barely attainable in the beginning, since I would be going back to work and trying to pump enough to avoid formula all together. Now, we’re just cruising along and it’s the most natural thing in the world. If I have it my way, a year will come and go and we’ll still be cruising along, for as long as Elle wants to.
There are far too many women who don’t feel supported by their friends, families, often times their own partners or doctors, women feeling ashamed of feeding their babies in public (which angers me to no end) and women who feel their only option is to give up. If I hadn’t had the undying support of my husband, our story may have ended differently. If you know a breastfeeding mama, know that it’s no piece of cake. Give her all the support you have and more. Encourage her, stand up for her. Applaud her! That shit is HARD! And if you are a breastfeeding mom, or want to be one, know that you are doing something amazing and beautiful, the ultimate womanly art. How breathtaking are we to carry, birth and nourish our children! Power to the boobies!
So with all of that being said, I start my road to becoming a lactation counselor. Something that I have been talking about on and off with Aaron for a long time, and never actually committed to. It wasn’t the right time, or we didn’t have the money, or we were too busy. (All my excuses, not his. He’s been encouraging me from the beginning.) And now it is time, because there never is the right time, and it is always the right time. If one woman has the experience that I did because I can help her through it, it will be worth it.