Postpartum: Breastfeeding, one more time
By Lindsay Bittinger
Have you ever thought, “I can’t go on another second” and then somehow you do? Have you convinced yourself that you’ve hit your limit but somehow you make it just a little longer?
I remember sitting on my couch at 2:15 AM crying hysterically while breastfeeding my eight-week-old daughter. With tears streaming down my face, I cried aloud, “I can’t do this anymore; I’m done!”
Then I got a random text out of nowhere with advice that I desperately needed. This text reminded me that 1) I (we) don’t have to do this motherhood thing alone and, 2) I (we) have way more power inside of ourselves than can possibly be understood.
Breastfeeding never came easy to me. I had a rocky start with my first daughter who had silent reflux. It didn’t help that I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t know where to turn for help. Between hours and hours of crying (from both she and I), cracked nipples, mastitis (twice), excruciating pain, and nasty postpartum depression, I was completely miserable.
I made a decision that I just couldn’t go on any longer and began exclusively pumping at six weeks postpartum. I felt like a failure.
Why would I shoulder all that weight of failure? Honestly, I didn’t know. My child was being fed (and fed is always best), and yet I felt like I had given up. Did I truly give it all I had? Could I have kept going? I just couldn’t answer either of those questions with confidence and that really upset me. It was a pain that I carried around for a long time.
Three years later, I was determined to breastfeed my second daughter. I did my research, I sought help, and kept a positive attitude. Yet, by week eight, I found myself in the same position as I did before. I was miserable once again and in terrible pain. I was about to give in. I was at my limit.
So there I was sitting on the couch ready to throw in the towel. As I was breastfeeding (and crying - which was the usual) for what I thought was the last time, my phone vibrated with a text message. The message was from an old friend who I had recently bumped into. She asked how breastfeeding was going. Somehow she messaged me at this vulnerable time when I needed some encouragement the most.
After unloading my feelings and my desire to quit breastfeeding, she said, “do you think you could breastfeed just one more time?” I said, “Sure, I could get through one more time.” She replied, “Well, do it! Then ask yourself the question before the next session. Stop thinking about forever and think about how strong you are right now.”
Hearing her say that changed my entire perspective. I was able and I was willing. I needed to stop thinking about forever and start thinking about right now.
I went onto nurse my daughter for the first year of her life. During that time I also made it a goal to encourage and reach out to as many nursing mothers as I could.
While breastfeeding might not be the right choice for all mothers, for me it was more than providing nourishment for my child - it was about doing something that felt so impossible. It was about finding my strength, one nursing session at a time.
I am (we are) strong, I am (we are) are capable, I (we) can push through any goal. Wear motherhood like a sacred badge - a life with the most amazing moments and most challenging events happening simultaneously.