A few weeks ago, Fable latched on to nurse for what I knew would be the last time.
I’m not sure why I was so confident this was the final time we’d be together this way. Maybe it was the slow decrease in my already meager supply over the last few months, or the readily chomping teeth conspiring on her angry swollen gums, or the way her distracted eyes would roll and search and grow more and more impatient with a tragically slow flow of milk in her rapidly expanding world of bright lights, tasty snacks, and instant gratification. Whatever the reason, I knew this moment was the last of its kind.
I took pictures. Awkward, not-enough-light-selfie pictures that are no good for internet bragging or framing or anything but saving to a file somewhere, tucked into our folder of memories, labeled with five proud little letters: Proof.
Because we are warriors, my beautiful girl and I, and this is our victory. This bittersweet ending of our 11-month breastfeeding adventure is heart-breaking and grounding and in no small way miraculous. We will be awarded no medals – no one will be standing at the one-year or two-year or whateverthegoalisnow finish line with balloons and banners to applaud our commitment to attachment parenting or our brave shunning of Gerber or the way I pumped a freezer full of magic milk to cure her sickness and send her to college, because we did none of those things. We could have done everything differently. I could have scavenged milk from donors to keep her pure, I could have married myself to the pump every waking minute in hopes that my 8 ounces a day would eventually increase to the 20 something needed just to sustain her, I could have kept any bottle nipple or pacifier miles away from her untainted lips, but I did not. We did not. We have made a thousand choices this year, and these fierce and mighty, wonderful ones were not among them.
Ah, but we are victorious, my girl and I, because the little girl who starved is alive and growing and gorgeous and wild. Because the mother who wept and bled and cracked and prayed is healing, is healed, and unapologetic and solid and sure. Because we sat in a chair, just us two, only weeks ago and nursed for the very last time like champions, like professionals, like frickin’ rockstars. Because for 11 whole months my daughter was fed, from a bottle, from my breast, from a box, by her father, by her grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends and even a stranger or two. Because for 11 whole months my daughter found comfort in my arms and at my breast and in her father’s bouncing and our cozy bed and the laps of a hundred village-dwellers who are so desperately perfectly part of her story. Because we took the path that was right for us, and we didn’t give up, and in the hundreds of times we failed along the way we never failed for even a moment because there is no right or wrong way in the face of so damn much love.
There will be a dozen moments when I watch an ample-bossomed mother nursing her toddler and wonder what if, if only, could I or should I or did we? In these moments, I will hold tightly the scared and wounded second-guesser who lives in me, I will comfort her, I will allow her a moment of pause, and then we will move forward to a lifetime of other beautiful things.
A few weeks ago, Fable latched on for what I knew was the last time.
Little love, we are champions. We are rockstars.
We are victory.
:o) = me with no words.
Our victories are just that….”ours”! They are not to be measured by anyone else’s, only by your own! Each moment that you lock eyes with Fable and she acknowledges you, as HER MOTHER, is your victory! Enjoy all of those moments and put them in the treasure box in your heart, because only you will EVER be her MOTHER!!
Just have to say that I’ve given a lot of the thought to your breastfeeding posts, especially as we’ve struggled with our own issues. Suzanna won’t take a bottle, pacifier, or any alternatives that we’ve found. Her dad is at home, ready to care for her, wanting to contribute, while I’m now working full-time and parenting full-time in tandem. Meanwhile, people think we’re just not trying hard enough to force her to take a bottle. We hear “she’ll take it if she gets hungry enough” from most who hear about our plight. But I won’t starve my baby and listen to her cry for me to feed her.
Good for you for your breastfeeding success– a great bond and a healthy body are signs of a great success for sure– and for sharing. This part of the job can make you (me) feel frustrated, powerless but proud to be, I think, passing the test.
Oh man, it’s the hardest. I think everyone has a different stuggle, but it seems that there’s always some sort of struggle with this process. I’ll be sending prayers and wishes for you three as you navigate the madness – you must be exhausted, lovely, and I, for one, am totally in awe of your commitment and strength. Amazing. Totally, totally awesome. Now, Suzanna, darling gorgeous girl, be a love and take a bottle and let your poor mama snooze for a minute. 😉
This is my first time visiting your blog after finding your “10 Things…” post on Facebook. I read this and every time you wrote that you knew that was the last time as it happened, it made me cry. I knew the last time with my second child as well, such a sad and beautiful moment. I love your writing. I love everything I’ve seen. I love that you call your baby Faby because I call my third baby, Faeby (her name is Fae). Thank you for your little corner of the interwebs, I love finding blogs I can look forward to reading every few days.
I just found your site from the “Ten Things..” a friend posted on Facebook. While I enjoyed that particular entry, this one really spoke to me. I also never had ample amounts of milk come in, and after adding in a lot of work stress, I would cling to my pump at work hoping to at least get 4 or 6 ounces out during the day to make a mix of milk/formula for the next day’s bottles at daycare. I have been clinging to my morning and bedtime nursing with my daughter, but I can tell it isn’t enough to keep her attention or be a sufficient “meal”. Your daughter’s ending signs are the same ones I don’t want to accept right now. We just celebrated 10 months of breast feeding, and I know I won’t make it to the year with these dwindling amounts. Instead of being angry at my body for not producing enough, your post made me rejoice in that I have been blessed with 10 months of this special time with my daughter. Thank you for reminding me to thank God for this gorgeous happy and healthy baby, no matter how she gets her nourishment.
I was also brought here by your “Ten Things” post, and I’m happily here to stay. I’m binge-reading your blog tonight in a way that I thought I had especially reserved for 30 Rock on Netflix.
My son is a bit older than your little one, and we’re pregnant with our second. So naturally, I wept through your letter to Fable for her first year birthday. But this post. This one got me. We had an epic uphill battle with breastfeeding – on that also included cracking and bleeding and crying and prayer – and eventually a measure of success. I related so much to this post that as soon as I’m done commenting, I plan on searching “breastfeeding” on your blog.
What a lovely corner of Internet you’ve created here. Thanks for sharing your life.
Man oh man! I just subscribed and I have to say I love reading about motherhood. I myself have a baby girl, Ivy. 7 months of craziness. Fun. Breastfeeding has been such a lovely experience and it’s nice to hear I am not the only one who has struggled but kept fighting because I know how wonderful it is for her. Thanks for inspiration, I needed it today and stumbled upon this post 😉
I just stumbled upon your blog this evening (through PDXbloggers) and have spending some time reading through your posts. I had to stop and comment on this one. Breastfeeding for my sister came really naturally. When I had my daughter I figured that it would be the same for me. Those first several weeks of breastfeeding were some of the most physically and emotionally draining of my life. Cracked nipples, an over supply of milk which caused my daughter to bite me every single time she was at the breast, clogged ducts, engorgement, pumping… Oh it was terrible. Then suddenly it wasn’t terrible anymore and it became beautiful.
I’m going on over two years at this point. We are working on the weaning thing and I can totally relate to the simultaneous feelings of triumph and sadness that it is at an end. This may be the only opportunity I’ll ever have to breastfeed a baby so another level of complexity has been added to an already complicated mix of emotions.
Well done, mama. You guys are rockstars.