A moment I didn’t expect to come when it did–the final feed. But let’s start at the beginning of our breastfeeding journey. Naively thinking breastfeeding would come naturally and easy, I struggled hard with my first born. Shortly after birth, she tried to latch without success. I felt lost, and couldn’t understand why something so natural could be so hard. The hospital lactation specialist tried helping but my daughter and I couldn’t get into a groove. We were both learning how but it wasn’t happening as quickly as I expected. She was losing weight and I felt the pressure was on.
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A brief moment when I was alone with my newborn in the hospital room, I started to cry. And then a knock on the door. I wiped my tears away and said, “come in.” The person who entered was someone not familiar, she was here to clean the room. As she worked, I tried to latch again, still unsuccessful. She saw the tears in my daughter’s eyes and mine, and in an unexpected turn of events, she offered to show me a new position to hold my newborn where it would be easier for her to latch and feed. I eagerly accepted her help without expectations. With this new position, my daughter latched for the first time, fed, and finally seemed satisfied. It was a miracle. I was so wrapped up in the feed that I didn’t notice the woman leave the room. I never caught her name to thank her. It felt like a movie, where this stranger, an angel, was sent to help.
When we came home though, things didn’t get easier. My daughter refused all and every bottle we tried. She would only breastfeed. But it was still a struggle. Every night she would cry for hours on end, never truly full after each feed. I didn’t want to give up our breastfeeding journey quite yet though, even though I was close after each night. I talked to our then pediatrician about everything going on and she chalked it up to “a witching hour,” but I just couldn’t accept that. There are so many people in the world and if everyone cried for six hours a night, I couldn’t understand how anyone would have more than one child.
So after a month of hard nights, I started digging, Googling, asking friends, joining multiple Facebook breastfeeding support groups, and finally came across a local lactation consultant who specializes in tongue and lip ties. I then booked an in-home consultation immediately and after we met she examined my daughter and it was confirmed, she had both lip and tongue ties. In a sense, I thought it was a relief. A potential explanation to our problem. I learned more about the procedure to correct the ties and made an appointment with a local pediatric dentist. After the meeting, she confirmed and recommended us to move forward to correct the ties to which we agreed. Within 10 minutes the procedure was done, my daughter was in my arms, latching and feeding successfully for the first time ever and we finally saw a huge smile on her face. It finally felt like the true beginning of our breastfeeding journey together.
Fast forward through the struggles of breastfeeding in public, the uncomfortable feeling of going out without ever knowing when or where I would feed, I was slowly building up my confidence even with the occasional public nip slip.
As the days, weeks and months went by, I couldn’t believe we made it to a year, and then to two years, and then to 2.5 years. And then the day of our final feed came. I was four months pregnant, and the pain from breastfeeding was unbearable. My daughter would see me clench, and she eventually said to me, “mama no more.” That moment gave me both a sense of relief along with a sense of sadness. I was and wasn’t ready for it. I thought I would know when the final feed would be. I would be able to prepare for it. I kept telling myself, “we are done when my daughter self weans.” And then it happened, unexpectedly. My compassionate, loving, little girl put my feelings first (at 2.5 years old) and was accepting with stopping. The final feed.
Our journey taught me so much. It taught me how amazing a woman’s body is. How truly resilient it is. It taught me that even though something may seem natural, it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have to practice to get better. It taught me how strong I am. But mostly, it taught me that even in the darkest of days, eventually light will shine through and things will get easier.
Everyone’s journey is unique and specific to themselves. My breastfeeding journey, though only on pause for now since I am expecting in September, was life changing. Whether you breastfeed for a day, a year, or beyond, know that you are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. We are mothers, we are incredible.