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On Mothering: Where The Sidewalk Ends

by - Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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.

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  1. This is such a sweet post and I'm not going to lie - those last lines made me tear up a little bit. xoxo.

  2. A really beautiful post. Good luck in your run.

  3. I am so glad for you , breastfeeding seems to have turned out to be a positive experience , I was so excited to get my boobs back from my girls after the one year mark , but I am so glad I was able to share that with them too

  4. That's sooo beautiful! You capture it honestly! (Well, at least I share the same thoughts as you) Its tough!!!!!!!!!!!! (but in a way its SO EASY too) ...

    did you actively ween? How? We are still b/feeding...almost at the 16mth mark...not sure how we got here but I am grateful I have such a healthy growing (ridiculously tall) boy!

  5. What a beautiful and honest post...something that I can totally relate to. Good luck this weekend!

  6. Thanks Kathleen. xoxo.

    Chris - one year is such a milestone, isn't it? I too am glad to get my body back (though it just doesn't quite look the same anymore, lol).

    Shannon - :) We weaned slowly. C went into part-time daycare at 13 months so we weaned the daytime feeds first, then weaned early morning/breakfast feeds. She used to nurse to sleep around 8pm so I switched her to a 6oz bottle of warm milk at bed. She now doesn't drink the whole 6oz but hands me half of it and I just cuddle her until she falls asleep then I transfer her to the crib. It now only takes about 15mins to get her to sleep and she sleeps through the night!

  7. Thank you for posting this. I just weaned my daughter from breastfeeding at 19 months as well, and your words echo my thoughts almost exactly. It was a beautiful experience I'll never regret but it's also exciting to now enjoy cuddle time in a new, fun way now.

  8. what a great post! so touching too! I am about to embark on this journey soon--i wasn't able to breastfeed my 2 other kids--so i hope this time it works~

  9. I am so sorry for the loss of your dear friend. I'm sure she would love this post.

    I LOVE Chloe's repeated refusals to hold her Daddy's hand. I can SO related!

  10. Anonymous3:31 PM

    What a moving post, in so many ways. For me too, breastfeeding is and has been one of the most fulfilling parts of being a mother. My kiddo nursed for about 21 months (gradually tapering off), and my little one will nurse for as long she'll be into it. When she's ready to be done, I'll be weepy, I know. And I'll problaby start gaining all sorts of weight, darn it. : )

    Congratulations on your accomplishment. I think it's wonderful.


  11. Becky - congratuations! What a wonderful gift you've given your daughter.

    Sharstin - The rewards are worth the trying times, but if it doesn't work the way you hoped, that's okay too. Wishing you much luck on that journey!

    Holyoke Home - Wendy did appreciate my occasional sappiness :) Yes, Chloe definitely is not a hand-holder, lol!

    jbhat - Yet another thing we have in common :) Thanks for your kind words.

  12. I'm not a mom, but this touched me, too. Thanks for posting. I really appreciate your honesty, and candor. Thanks for sharing a little more of your life with us.

  13. Good luck on your run <3

    This post was very sweet.

  14. What a beautiful post, thank you for writing it. I shed a few tears when my breastfeeding time ended with both my kids, and not many people understood why. I will send them here! :)

  15. So touching! I hope nothing but the best for you in this experience.

  16. Wow - this was beautifully written and made me tear up, as a new mom who has just started breast feeding, and also as someone who lost their mom to breast cancer a few years ago. Thanks so much for this touching post.

  17. inBloom - I wish you much luck on your journey. So very sorry to hear about your mother.

  18. Wonderful post. The video made me tear up a bit. I thought of what Olivia will be like when she's walking and playing the way Chloe does. She really is so precious.

  19. Anonymous3:53 PM

    I am a grandmother now and nursed all four of our children for many months and two for several years. it was always sad to end the relationship with each of them, especially the last one. Those are my most cherished memories with them as little ones and wish all mothers could experience it even if it is for a short while.


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