My breastfeeding journey came to an abrupt end overnight.
Sometimes we joke about things happening overnight with the understanding that it does not in fact happen over one night. But for me . . . it did.
I nursed my baby for the last time and didn’t even know it. She woke up the next morning and decided she was just . . . done. Eleven months of being her main nutrition, her main comfort and bonding, and it was just over literally overnight.
At the beginning of our journey, I had zero plans for how long or if we would breastfeed. Then I fell quickly into Postpartum Depression and absolutely hated nursing her. I made a painful effort to bond with her through breastfeeding, and it worked. Breastfeeding is by far one of the hardest but most rewarding things I have ever done.
When she decided she was done with it, I was absolutely CRUSHED.
I sobbed for days and felt entirely rejected by her. Surely she didn’t love me anymore. She did not need me anymore. Could she feel my heart aching and longing for her? Does she have any idea how hard I tried at the beginning to force myself to love that time together?
Of course she doesn’t know, she’s just a baby. Well she’s more of a toddler now. All she knows is she wants more independence and is having so much fun learning new things but nursing with momma is taking time away from that.
I should’ve been proud of her for being big and making decisions on her own, but instead I slipped back into depression.
Then it happened…
I was driving to photograph a wedding, which normally would have me anxious and stressed about leaving her. I never really understood why I was having so much anxiety about leaving her. Turns out most of my anxiety was entirely related to breastfeeding. I was even having anxiety going places WITH her with fear of “what if” she needed to nurse.
For the first time in 11 months, I left my baby girl and had zero anxiety about it. I felt like I could finally breathe again. For the first time in 11 months, I took her out to lunch and had zero anxiety about it. For the first time in 11 months, I didn’t have anxiety going to church.
For the first time in 11 months I felt . . . FREE.
I will forever cherish the moments of bonding while nursing her and I will miss them tremendously, but we are onto a new journey, finding new ways to bond and enjoy our time together to the fullest. She is constantly changing and I need to learn how to change with her through each season of her life.
Whether you nursed your baby once, for months, or for years . . . you are a champion, momma! Watching our babies grow and get older is so hard on our hearts but so exciting at the same time. Hold tight to every moment with them, big and small.
If you asked me in the days following our abrupt end to breastfeeding if I would be thankful for the freedom, I would have just sobbed even more. But I can confidently say now that I know God knew what I needed most to feel relief from the dark anxiety I had been carrying around with me for months.
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