With a wave like flick of my daughter’s wrist and the “eh” noise in the tone I know so well I know it is time for milk. We have taught my daughter the sign for milk, but in her frantic hangry baby state of mind it has become this super urgent wave instead of the squeezing motion that she has been taught for milk. Sometimes the wave and the “eh” are followed by a pull at the shirt and sometimes even a direct chomp on my chest with her lovely little teeth. Our once calm breastfeeding relationship is now a full-on Olympic sport complete with acrobatic poses of all sorts and a gold medal to mommy if I make it out of each feeding without having a nipple ripped off.
While I know how lucky I am to have made it past the year mark of breastfeeding, I can’t help but long for those earlier days. Now, I am not going to say our early days of breastfeeding weren’t without there challenges like engorgement, cracked nipples, positioning, and adjusting to the demand it placed on my time and my body. I miss my calm little newborn though some days. I miss the way she snuggled into my chest nursing so sweet and calm and eventually dozing off where I would snuggle her for hours- I suppose a part of me just misses how little and dependent she was.
Before I became a mom, I never would have imagined myself breastfeeding and once I did, I never would have thought I would make it this far. I have always been the type to be prepared, but this has been a journey that I could not fully prepare for. I can honestly understand why some mothers choose not to or are not able to continue for whatever reason. Breastfeeding is a full-time responsibility added onto the responsibility of raising a kid(s), taking care of a household, and in most instances working a job. Somedays it is flat-out exhausting and will leave you “touched out”. I remember in the early days I felt so much pressure because I knew my daughter depended on me for ALL of her nourishment. This meant I had to maintain my supply and had to be mindful of what I was consuming. I quickly realized that although I had given birth and thought that I had my body back, my body was still not mine. It was crazy that before I was a mom my breasts were considered a sexual object that must be hidden. But now? All modesty is out the window. I mean, I don’t know I will ever see them as a sexual entity for the remainder of my breastfeeding time, if ever again. They have taken on such a different and profound purpose that only I was able to provide my daughter and to me that is so special. This is just one of the many ways that breastfeeding changes a woman. We go from being our own people to essentially being owned by this little person- and with good cause.
Can we just touch on all the nursing clothes out there? Nursing bras can be a pain. I was a bigger chested woman before I had my daughter and proceeded to get larger after I had her. Over a year into our breastfeeding relationship and I still cannot find a bra that fits, supports, and is accessible all at the same time. Not that it really matters we spend so much time hooking and unhooking, adjusting, adding padding and so on. Let’s be honest, it is so much easier to ditch the bra all together, especially if you are home. I eventually gave up on all the nursing clothes as well. They all were given and “A+” for accessibility but did nothing overall to flatter my body or not feel like I was wearing and awkward number of layers. Maybe I just never found the right nursing clothes, but this has been one of my biggest peeves about nursing.
Anymore, as eventful as our breastfeeding relationship dynamic is it has just became normal to me. I just sit on the floor in my living room and instinctively lift my shirt, and if I am wearing one, I unhook my poorly supportive nursing bra and prepare for attack. We have gone beyond being able to nurse off one side each feeding, a full-on meltdown will ensue if both breasts are not free for her consumption. So, I sit there, no modesty left as the acrobatic feeding ensues. Sometimes she will turn her head to see her favorite show nearly yanking my nipples off with every turn while others she will turn upside down as she climbs me like a jungle gym. Some days its crazy to me to think that the same little baby that cracked my nipples because her latch was not right, can now put on a three-ring circus act all while maintaining a proper latch. In all honesty, I am so use to it all that I don’t even notice it until my husband or my mom who visits comments on the show that my daughter puts on while breastfeeding. Its almost became like a badge of honor to breastfeed through all the craziness.
As crazy as our daily breast-feeding sessions are, I absolutely love our first thing in the morning session. This is the session that makes the crazy day sessions worth it and makes me hold on to our breastfeeding relationship tightly. It is rough to try to peel my eyes open when I hear my daughter awake on the monitor, but it is made easier when I get to start the favorite part of our day. I go into her bedroom that is adjacent from mine with the same routine. She shows me where her paci and wubby are and then hands me her lovey and whatever animal she has in the crib. We then head back to my bed where we snuggle and side nurse. This may sound all pretty basic, but it is our one special time throughout the day. It’s the one time of day that neither of us are distracted by the many distractions that surround us. We can just snuggle, and I can talk to her and just really be in the moment with my baby girl. I can just cherish this precious, fleeting time with her.
Breastfeeding has had its lows and times where I absolutely considered throwing in the towel. The highs though have made every low worth it. I have been so blessed to have maintained this relationship with my daughter and know the day we end this journey will be bittersweet.