When my son was born I knew nothing about breastfeeding. It was terribly ignorant of me to just think everything would be fine, even though I had heard it was hard. What the hell did that mean? How could breastfeeding be hard? Your baby opens his mouth, in goes your nipple, and bam!, milk starts a flowin’. The reality for me was not that simple. It was 6 weeks of pain and bleeding and crying and feeding every hour and a half.
But this story is not about that, because in the end I figured it out. I sought the help of a lactation consultant, and my son was diagnosed with a tongue tie. After 6 weeks things were great. Perfect, in fact I would say. I had no need to supplement ever with formula. My son was gaining weight famously. It was another bodily miracle, and I was proud.
Fast forward to when son was 6 months old. Now, in my head I had never placed a time limit for how long I would breastfeed. I just thought, “I’ll do it as long as I can”. But what about what I wanted? Forget my ability, forget what I could do, what about my desires as an actual individual person?
Along with my initial naivety about the actual physical process of feeding, came the realization that my body still wasn’t my own. During the last few weeks of pregnancy I could not wait to give birth. I wanted my body back so bad, I was tired of sharing it with someone. But when you breastfeed you don’t get your body back – It’s still being shared… It’s still not your own. Don’t get me wrong, it feels amazing and beautiful and so complex my words can’t do the process justice. You feel a bit like a superhero sustaining a life with your own body; You beam with pride at every ounce your child gains because that growth came from you alone. But after a while I started to get tired. Ten months of pregnancy and six months of breastfeeding equaled over a year of my life where my body was dedicated to someone else. And although I still had the ability to continue breastfeeding, I didn’t want to. I was done.