On Mothering: Where The Sidewalk Ends
I'm writing today's post in memory my dear friend Willow who passed away from cancer earlier this year. This Sunday, a group of us will gather once again in her honour to participate in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. If you'd like to support us and our goal of working towards a future without breast cancer, please visit my donation page here.
This post is a little more personal, no dust or renos involved, so feel free to skip this one.
Chloe and I reached a milestone of sorts last week but rather than jubilation, this milestone has left me a bit melancholy. After 17 months and 10 days, we've ended our breastfeeding journey.
I don't know how we quite ended up here, so far down this road. Before I was a mom, I knew I would breastfeed but I thought six months for sure, maybe a year, was how long this relationship would last. I just never thought breastfeeding was "my thing", so to speak. Unlike my sister who was a La Leche League advocate and extended breastfed her babies, I never felt that breastfeeding was something that came to me naturally. And now its gone and I feel inexplicably like a small piece of me is gone too.
I was luckier than most. Chloe latched easily, there were no supply issues, and I only had one bout of mastitis. I had no qualms about nursing in public (underneath a cover) and had a circle of friends whose homes I felt comfortable enough to nurse in too. So it has been the perfect supportive environment for this relationship to flourish.
But while I loved looking at Chloe's face, watching her fall off to sleep as she nursed, being able to calm her cries by just bringing her into me, watching her grow and thrive from my milk, it has been long and difficult too. No matter how much you love your child, this particular journey can at times make you feel confined, restricted, claustrophobic. When there is a helpless little one who demands to be fed every 1.5 hours you do it... though your other inclination may be to run, run far away. At those times, I would feel a twinge of guilt. How could I think such things? I was the one who brought helpless little one into the world and I knew full well what that would demand of me.
But there is more in the nature of breastfeeding than just the physical act of feeding your baby. And this is the part I was not prepared for. It literally forces you to give up a piece of your body, your space, your being, to someone else. I have grown accustomed to having ownership of my body so for such a precious baby to lay immediate and total claim to it was difficult. At times, she would own not only my body but my mind too, as I sat or lay there, counting the minutes, my mind filled with the million things I had to do, but not being able to move an inch. "Be in the moment" my sister would tell me. It could be so difficult to enjoy those moments when they ate up the better part of your hour, your day or your week.
Surrender. Sacrifice. That is what breastfeeding has taught me. To give wholly and completely. I guess in my selfish ways I never thought I'd be able to nor want to do that for so long. But I'm so glad I did. I appreciate that my body was able to do that and nourish my baby and give her the best start possible.
So this week, as I reminisce about my friend Willow and other women whose breasts failed them, I am thankful that mine did not fail me nor Chloe. Its time for us to get off this path, little girl, and step into a whole new direction.