Mmm…the sweet scent of your vernix coated skin…
Thump, thump, the song of your cry beats my heart.
The room swirls like steam escaping from a pot as I rip my gown off and pull you close; warmth, love, fulfillment, as I nestle you against my bosom.
My heart flutters with anticipation as I place your tiny mouth to my breast, and you gently suckle yourself to sleep – I could leave you there forever; gazing at your shoulders moving with each breath and feeling the tickle of your sweet tongue against my nipple. You were born to breastfeed.
Tonight…everything is perfect.
Your eyes dance, dance with a newborn’s love as you and your older brother share my milk; one on each breast, bonding with each other, bonding as family…
I imagine you nursing as a toddler; I wonder what you will call mother’s milk. I feel I could breastfeed you both forever.
More-milk-more-milk-morrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre-milllllllllllllllk…the breast pump sings as I pump every few hours storing away every precious ounce of gold I can harvest before returning to work.
My freezer is full. I am confident. I am confident that I will breastfeed you exclusively for a year.
“9.99, will that be all?” I hear, as I try yet another bottle and nipple; I feel so flattered, yet so frustrated, that you refuse all but one bottle and nipple for my breast. That’s mama’s boy.
A single oceanic tear rolls down my face, the taste brings a flood…nobody understands. I work, I attend school, I spend hours on the road; I have pumped in shower stalls, toilet stalls, closets, kitchens, and even automobiles to the sound of tractor trailer horns…yet, at the end of the day I bring home enough for a single feeding.
I am not giving up. Water, oatmeal, herbs, mid-night pumping sessions; it has been almost 3 months and I am willing to sacrifice everything.
My freezer stash is empty. I feel like a failure as I begin sending the “outlawed” substance with you to daycare.
Then it happens. My worst nightmare. Suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, swallow, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, swallow, cry… My stomach churns as I coax you to drink a half bottle of formula after breastfeeding.
I massage, shake, squeeze, and suspend my breast over you. Still you do not seem satisfied. My heart is slowly breaking. My bank account drains and my stress level rises as I resort to a supplemental nurser that you refuse because you appreciate an authentic nipple, and how can I blame you?
1…2…3…4…the number of weeks you nursed at night. 5…6…7…8…9…the number of weeks I pumped to maintain supply and tried to convince you to latch on, and you screamed, bit, and clawed me. 10…11…12…the number of weeks it took me to reach closure.
Three months of fighting you; breaking every cardinal rule of respecting you and loving you so that I could avoid facing my own failure. Yelling at your brother, resenting my pump, resenting my husband, resenting myself, resenting you. How long might I have battled before I pushed everyone I love away?
You are 9 months old. You are beautiful, healthy, thriving. We gaze into each other’s eyes…bonding. You let go of the bottle. I hold the bottle to your tiny mouth and your silky infant fingers stroke my chest, arm, face. This is the most peaceful feeding we have shared in months. It is now that I realize, I have not failed you, I have not failed at breastfeeding, I am not a failure.
I am strong. I am a woman. I am a mother – a GOOD mother. I am YOUR mother. Nothing that happens in our relationship will ever change that. It is TONIGHT that I promise to RESPECT you no matter what comes our way. We are BOUND, eternally.
Tonight…I let go; and everything is perfect.