Okay, so, it’s not quite THE END. Here’s the story:
When Wesley was born, breastfeeding came naturally. Sure, I had a few hurdles to jump over, but I got through them easily and I comfortably slid into the role of “breastfeeding mama.” (Shoutout to my amazing lactation consultant at the hospital!)
My body has been able to nourish Wesley’s little body through four eye surgeries and counting, through meltdowns, through happy times, all of it. I look back on what I’ve given him in the past 15 months and I am grateful that I could provide this to him.
About three weeks ago, Wesley was nursing, and he fell asleep on my breast, as he does sometimes. Something startled him (the dogs barking, a noise outside, I don’t even remember at this point) and he quickly moved his head, which took my nipple with it. I instantly felt searing pain, as toddlers have what infants don’t: teeth. I got up to look at the damage, and I knew it was bad. I was ripped open, bleeding a bit. I sighed, washed it, put coconut oil on, and went back to bed.
Let’s talk “favorites.” The left boob is Wesley’s favorite. It’s the one that makes the most milk, and the one he likes to fall asleep on. It is what it is, the right is just my “slacker.” Well, guess which one got the injury? Yep, good old loyal leftie. So every time I nursed, I cringed because I was in so much pain. I’ve been ripped before, and I’ve also healed very quickly. Pain is something that I can deal with. However, this became a different situation. Somehow, this injury was deep, and no matter what I did, it wouldn’t heal. When it started to heal, it would get ripped back open.
So…I had to stop nursing on Wesley’s favorite leftie. I repeatedly tried to get him to give the right a fighting chance. Still, my body knew something wasn’t right, and then, after about a week, my supply tanked. And I mean, it TANKED. Where I used to pump a good solid 5 ounces in the middle of the day, I started only producing about an ounce between both breasts. I felt empty, both physically and emotionally, really. Nights became more difficult as he didn’t get the comfort he wanted, and we ended up with a very unhappy toddler.
Yesterday, I lost it. I was on my way to a work training and I suddenly felt all of my emotions come at me like a ton of bricks as I sat in my car, alone. I let out the most primal cry (very ugly, I’m happy I was alone) and I sobbed until I threw up. I ended up calling my mom, because let’s face it, a girl needs her mom sometimes, especially one who breastfed her for 3 years (no, I’m not kidding.) She comforted me and told me that I’m doing a great job, among other words of affirmation.
When they say breastfeeding is a journey, that statement couldn’t be more truthful. For 15 months, I have been able to nourish my child’s body with a substance personalized to fit his needs. I have gained confidence in myself as a mother and a woman, and I stopped caring what people thought. I found myself to be a true “lactivist” in a world where it’s hard sometimes to figure out what you stand for. I found something I’m passionate about, and found others who feel the same. I’ve come out of my shell and challenged those who criticized me, whereas before these 15 months, I didn’t know how to properly stand up for myself.
This journey may be tapering, but it’s not over. I will continue to try, and even last night, Wesley fell asleep with the comfort of good old lefty. Sometimes, you start something that you know is important, but you don’t realize it will completely change your life.
I’m grateful for that.