Last week was one of the most horrific nursing experiences of my life. The pain was so excruciating and so present with every latch and every suck that it was nigh impossible to let my little Dylan finish eating. Upon further examination, I found I was cracked and bleeding, which I didn't even do in the early days of feeding this second child of mine. And so a vicious cycle began. He would try to eat and I would pull him off early. He would wake soon after and cry and cry because...well...he was hungry and I was apparently starving him. And so when the Friday morning sun crested over the hill, I confirmed what I've been toying with.
Breastfeeding is over.
I had been thinking about it, and honestly, I had never really LOVED doing it, so I thought it was time. The relationship had run its course. And then comes Saturday morning and the realization that the evil culprit coming between our relationship was finally discovered.
Ethan never once had thrush, but man did that child come down with some nasty diaper rash when he took a course of antibiotics. Dylan has yet to experience diaper rash at all, but thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth, struck him hard. And because I was nursing him, I fell victim to its onslaught as well. Hence the pain and the cracks and the bleeding. I tried again, in vain, to feed him on Saturday, but my weak disposition could hack the pain. Monday morning comes along, and I find myself allowing a doctor to check me out and give me medication to make it go away. And the medication is not "nursing friendly," because I'm not nursing.
And that's when it hits me that I'm not nursing.
I hold together until just before bed when heart-wrenching, body-wracking sobs overtake me and I feel empty. As the tears come forth uncontrolled, I feel deep pain right where my heart lies. I feel a gaping hole that I can't fill. I feel sad and lost and am overcome with such a sense of longing.
Longing for something I didn't even like, yet am loathe to give up. And I know it's not the breastfeeding I miss. It's that phase of our lives. It's the fact that every day since I gave birth to this child, I have fed him in bed. At night, I have laid with him every.single.night. I have held him close and let him gain his nourishment from me. Every time he fell or bumped his head or smashed his fingers, I have given him my comfort. Every time he was too tired to sleep, I soothed with my body.
To let that go is like ripping a tiny piece of my heart out of my chest.
I remember being sad after I quit nursing my first born. But it was easier, likely because he had developed a nasty habit of biting me with those razor-sharp teeth of his. And so at one point, I just said, "Enough." This, well, it's just different. I never perfected, or came close, to feeding Ethan laying down. I didn't bring him to my bed to eat. And after I had relinquished our nursing relationship, Ethan still required that I nap with him for a few more months, so I still had something with him. Dylan likes his own space...and I wouldn't change that, but it leaves me with so little to use a transition from one relationship to the next. And Dylan, well, he's my baby. He's my last. I will never do this again.
I will never comfort or nourish a child through nursing again. And he will eventually learn that others can provide comfort and love just as I can.
A baby nursing at a mother's breast... is an undeniable affirmation of our rootedness in nature. ~David Suzuki