Before my son was even born, I talked a different breastfeeding game than most women I know. Due to the fact that I despised pregnancy with the fire of one thousand suns, I assumed breastfeeding would equally suck. When I originally set out on this nursing journey, my goal was to make it three weeks.
Lofty, I know.
During those three weeks, I sat in the glider in my new son’s nursery, sobbing and fumbling my way through each feeding. It felt foreign and like the most unnatural thing in the world. I wanted to find every lactation consultant who manhandled me during my hospital stay and wring their necks for making me believe this was the best option.
Tonight, though, it’s different.
Tonight I cried in this glider because after nine months, we’ve reached the end of this journey.
Somewhere in between the fresh postpartum depression and sore nipples and feeling resentful for being tethered to this tiny human, we fell into a groove. Why is it so easy to harp on the annoying parts of motherhood and gloss over the beautiful ones? But somewhere in there, I began to love that time together, and it seems just as I was realizing it’s beauty, the chapter has come to a end.
Tears streamed down my face as he laid cradled in my arms before bedtime, and I attempted to take in every single sensation: his tiny body curled up against mine, the rhythm of his breath, and the way his little hand rested on his cheek. I cried because I know this will all be impossible to remember.
I cried because the guilt is overwhelming. This has been his safe place since the moment he entered this big world, and I couldn’t help but feel like I’m ripping it away.
I’d be lying if I said the tears were aplenty not because I’m scared.
I’m not terrified of the formula or the judgmental moms or the pain of weaning, but I’m scared of the mom I’ll be without it. During this survival period (aka the first year), this has been my foolproof weapon with the ability to slay sleepless nights and teething pain and scary shots at the pediatrician. I feel as though I’m willingly laying it down and choosing to forge on, unarmed, into battle, and I’m unsure how I’ll, quite literally, survive.
I stifle a sob because I can’t help but wonder if this decision will make me replaceable. I know these are what my husband refers to as “crazy lady thoughts,” but they’re ones I can’t shake. Not tonight, anyway.
Maybe tomorrow the underutilized portion of my brain responsible for producing rational thoughts will kick into gear, and I’ll rest easy (okay, easier) because I’ll know that while this breastfeeding bond has been special, it’s not what makes me a mother. I’ll remind myself that every mother’s worth is found in her endless supply of selfless love and dedication, her ability to make any boo-boo better with a kiss and a hug, and her unyielding willingness to give her baby the best life possible. Tonight, I cried in the glider. But tomorrow, I’ll remind myself that as long as there is healthy food in his belly, the source doesn’t matter.