Love Letters to My Weaning Baby and Myself

| by Anonymous |

These two letters were a part of my attempt to grieve and mourn and reflect on the end of the 17.5 month breast feeding relationship I had with my first born daughter four months ago. I made the decision for us to end breastfeeding and I toiled over it—hard! These letters were my attempts to give myself some grace and celebrate all parts of the journey rather than criticize myself for not waiting to end on my daughter’s terms. Here is our story as told through my eyes:

A love letter to my weaning baby:

This is the eve of our last night breastfeeding together. 17 months and 3 weeks. I never see you look as peaceful as you do when you’re nursing at my breast, hand on my tummy (or finger in my belly button). What a special relationship this is. I pray you have this experience with your babies. Thank you for this gift you’ve given me. In this way, I’ve been able to nurture you, nourish you, comfort you, soothe you, help you fall asleep, ease your fears and worries, help you fight illness, bond with you. Although it seems like the gifts are unequal, you give me many in return. Seeing your sweet face search for the breast, your little newborn mouth so hungry, the calm after your “milk coma.” As you got older, seeing you sign for milk. Taking away each feeding, one by one, felt like torture to me at first, but it came easier, little by little, until it became the new normal. I imagine this is what will happen after tomorrow night. Maybe for both of us. Please know mommy loves you and can be close with you in so many other ways, too. Not everyone understands it, but we know better. I love you sweetheart. Thank you for these past 17+ months. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for you in life. I love you dearly. Love, Mommy.

A letter to you, breast feeding power mama!

Mama self: As of tomorrow, you will have breast fed your first baby for 17.5 months. Do you remember when your first goal was to get her through the six month mark? And then stick it through until one year and “see what happens?” Then holding your breath to see when she would reject your breast? But that day never came. So you decided that it was time to slowly start the weaning process. First, the middle of the night feedings, then the mid-day feeding, then several months later, the morning feed, and now down to this moment. Do you remember the joy you felt when she latched naturally mere minutes after she came out of the womb? How she just magically wiggled her way from your chest to your breast? It was just magical. And how committed you were to breast feed at any cost. And the excruciating pain of your nipple being torn up at 10 days old, having to pump all weekend, feeling terrified that you wouldn’t make enough for her, feeling like a failure for not breastfeeding her for a weekend, and vowing to never be in that position of “weakness” again. Developing a freezer stash to feed an army of babies, filling a gallon-sized freezer! You took fenugreek (3 pills, 3 times a day) for 6 months. You breast fed with no cover—anytime, anywhere. Walking through the mall, at the supermarket (very common), in the park. Breast feeding support group twice a week for three months then once a week for another three months once you went back to work. In addition to your daughter, you provided breast milk for others’ children. That is SIX other babies who benefitted from your work and commitment! The thrush you endured, the APNO (all purpose nipple cream made at home), the grapefruit seed extract, the apple cider vinegar, the plugged ducts (elephantitis boob as you affectionately liked to call it), the no drinking in excess, the “watch your diet because the baby will be ingesting it too”, sleep bras for months, nipple pads for a year plus, nipples poking everywhere, feeling like a “pumping cow machine” pumping in between patients three times a day for a year straight. Washing pump parts 5 times a day (at minimum) for a year straight. Improvising by hand expressing if you forgot your pump. Bottles, milk transfers, labeling. Mama, that would’ve been amazing if you did all of that for even three months let alone 17.5! You are a rockstar, and self-less, and have built wonderful, secure attachment with your baby (now toddler). I know it’s bittersweet, but this was beautiful. You’re okay. More than okay. You can look back on this and tell her all about it. And raise her to be every bit the “breast-feeding nazi” you turned out to be! Be proud of yourself, supermama. I am.

Love, Yourself.

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