For almost 2 years I have lent my body to another. I endured weeks and weeks of morning/afternoon/night sickness as I developed a tiny little human. My body stretched and contorted to accommodate the growing little angel that was going to appear. Then 10 months later, my body readied itself for the ultimate moment of greatness, and I birthed into the world the most beautiful baby girl. The following months were dedicated to days and nights of non-stop feedings, skin to skin contact, and around the clock care giving. I no longer knew the body I once knew, for it had been changed forever, in more ways than I even understood. This body that was housing a beautiful creature, now was transformed into a new body that evolved to feed the creature that emerged. My body was hers.
After 11 months of breastfeeding, it’s almost surreal to know that I am the sole reason she is healthy, growing, and so so smart. My body knows exactly what she needs to develop at every age and milestone, and I find that fascinating. I have healed her, and she has healed me. I have nourished her, and she has nourished me. We have a reciprocity that can’t be denied, taken, or lost. Our bond will last a lifetime, despite the fact that one day she will not need me in the same capacity that she does now.
I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to breastfeed my daughter. Was it always easy? No. But no good thing comes easy. There were times it was painful, and there were times it was beyond excruciatingly painful, but I kept on. Once we finally fell into a rhythm, and learned each other, it was wonderful. I knew that I was what was best for her, and I owed her the best. So, I fought to keep going, and it was a battle worth fighting. The weight gain that led to the chubbiest baby rolls I’ve ever seen, the little smile she gave me after each feeding, the cognitive development skills, the milk drunk induced naps, and her healthy immune system was all based on me unselfishly giving her my body.
I was an advocate of breastfeeding from the moment I knew I was pregnant. I didn’t listen to all the banter on how hard it was, and the statistics on how so many women gave up after 3 months. I didn’t let people deter me from feeding her wherever, and whenever, I wanted. My only mission was to keep my daughter growing strong, and I didn’t care if it ruffled some feathers, or was greeted with an outpouring of cheers. I was not put on this earth to conform to social norms. I was put on this earth to nurture a child, and so far, I succeeded in that. If I never do one more great thing in this life, I will feel accomplished knowing I beat the odds, and kept my child fed from my very body.
I know that our time is going to come to a close within this upcoming year. I can feel it. At one year into breastfeeding, she is not feeding as often. She is busy taking in the world around her. She is walking, and touching, and smelling, and listening to all the pretty things that cross her path. She is gaining independence and self-awareness. She is transforming into a toddler right before my eyes. Sure, she still nurses for comfort, for nap times, and for a quick drink, but the long, snuggly, nursing sessions are few and far between. Yet, the fact remains, I will gladly let her come to me as long as she wants, because I am her point A. I am her place of safety. I am her north star. I am her mom. But, I know, that there is going to be a time in the near future she will self soothe, she will not need me to heal her, and she will not need me for that quick drink.
We are about to hit our one year mark with breastfeeding on February 3. I feel so much pride and success in this. It was my first major goal to hit, and we are going to hit it. If you know me, you know goals are incredibly important to be reached in my world, so I am elated we will hit this mark. I can rest easy knowing I did what was best for her in the first year of her life. Many women never make it this far, so I feel validated in this achievement; while still secretly hoping we get to 18 months. I don’t think I am emotionally ready to take my body back. I’ve been sharing it for so long now, I don’t even know what I will do when it is just mine again. I’m not quite ready to get off this path that is so pure and beautiful. And even though I know that one of our first adventures will come to a close at some point, I do know that it will not be our last adventure. So, I guess I can settle in my mind that I did a good job, and that she is strong & healthy because of me. And I know, sooner than later, it’s time to start thinking about letting go of this chapter & letting my body be free.
But, my hearts just not ready.