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Lifestyle

My #WorldBreastfeedingWeek Story

8.5.20
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It’s #worldbreastfeedingweek and it’s a beautiful, happy, and sometimes triggering celebration…

As we come up on two years of breastfeeding, Ollie has almost completely stopped asking for milk.

I remember many times when I prayed for this moment. Breastfeeding was not always a beautiful experience. But many times, it was. ❤️ The connection is INCREDIBLE, which is nearly impossible to explain to anyone who hasn’t been down this road. It’s simply something that must be experienced.

This milestone is something to be remembered and celebrated. And I wouldn’t trade it for a thing. Even the 3 AM feedings that made me want to pull my hair out taught me valuable lessons about resilience and doing hard, beautiful, selfless things.

Knowing that I could feed Ollie for two years, after an explant and so much body shaming, is an incredible feeling. My body is so forgiving–it reminds me of this poem:

“Even

after all this time

the sun never says to the earth,

‘You owe me.’

Look what happens with a love like that.

It lights the whole sky.”

-Hafiz

Breastfeeding on demand was the most intuitive, challenging, empowering road I have ever been down. I felt so supported by my online community and hashtags like #extendedbreastfeeding.

Breastfeeding can also be isolating and we need to see more images of it in social media to normalize it. New mothers need connection. We need to know it’s safe to nurse in public (it’s legal in all states!). We need to know it’s normal, and that we don’t have to stop our life for months or years and live indoors out of convenience.

I have also found that following some breastfeeding journeys can be triggering. Even for me as a breastfeeding advocate and veteran. We’re all doing our best. Comparison to other people’s journeys and the mom guilt associated with passive-aggressive fact-shaming is the worst. Let yourself off the hook. You’re doing great.

Now that this journey of connection is seemingly coming to a close for us (we’ll see🤷🏻‍♀️), I miss the moments of quiet together so deeply. I never got that “last breastfeeding session” photo. I never had a moment where I thought, “this could be it.” It just happened, naturally. And for that, and the grace and ease at which it happened, I am grateful. I did not have to make any decisions. Ollie has been weaning himself as he grows in other ways with compassion, comfort, and love that he’s receiving from family.

With this nearing new chapter, I’m focusing on the positive, but I can’t lie and say it’s not hard to be a little emotional.

To all you mamas out there seeing all the beautiful breastfeeding photos this week, I want you to know that it’s okay to feel a range of emotions. Whatever you choose, to breastfeed or not, you chose right for you and your baby. However long you nursed—or didn’t—it was right for you and your baby. I know it’s hard, but please, let’s be brave enough to not compare ourselves.

There is space for us all this week! You don’t need to feel shame about the direction you chose or were forced to take based on your circumstances. Whatever you did, you did it your best, and I am so proud of you. Let’s embrace it all and make space for everyone to feel loved and celebrated while continuing to advocate for women’s rights and normalizing breastfeeding.

Lots of love,

Emily

Photo credit: Christina Craddock