Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Breastfeeding is the best gift I've ever given myself

Breastfeeding is the best gift I've ever given myself.

As a young adult, when I thought about having children I always knew one thing for certain: I wasn't going to breastfeed.  "Breast is best" arguments aside, I just never imagined myself feeding a child with my body. Just thinking about it gave me serious anxiety. I couldn't stand the thought of having a human attached to me, begging for nourishment. It was too much responsibility. I also squirmed at what my post BF boobs looked like in my mind's eye. I just wasn't that kind of girl, I told myself. My boobs would simply not be laid on the altar for sacrifice. My friends encouraged me to keep an open mind and the make whatever decision seemed right when the time came. No need to put the cart before the horse. Fine.

When my daughter came on Independence Day this year, I took one look at her and knew there wasn't anything I wouldn't do for her. She was the piece of me that I didn't even know was missing. I resolved myself to do right by her, even if it meant sacrificing everything I had. I knew that the best decision for her was for me to breastfeed her. Sorry, formerly full, perky(ish) breasts, it was nice knowing you.

Here we are 14 weeks later, and I see breastfeeding as more than an decision about how I feed my daughter. Honestly, she'd be perfectly fine if she were formula fed. She'd still be healthy and happy. She'd still be growing as she should and eating just as often. But, I'm not sure I'd be fine. As it turns out, breastfeeding means more to me than I could have ever imagined. 

I love the fact that she looks to me for her most basic need. I love that she wants to nurse just for comfort sometimes. Seeing her baby face in the middle of the night snuggled up next to me makes my heart sing. When she puts her tiny hands on my chest as she drifts off to sleep, I could cry. I've never loved anything more than I love her. Any moment that I get to pull her close, I gladly take. Sometimes when my husband gives her a bottle I've pumped, I go in the other room because I can't stand to see someone else feed her. That's my job, that's our thing. As crazy as it sounds, I have to fight feelings of jealousy and the urge to defend my turf. 

She will never remember how safe she felt in my arms. She won't know that I woke every 2 hours to feed her in her first few weeks of life. She will never realize how many times I kissed her cheeks at 3:00am or how many nights I stared at her in awe. This tiny human will turn into a not so tiny human and she may never understand how much of myself I've poured into her. But I will. I'll remember. And one day, not too long from now, she won't need me at 3:00am, she'll find comfort in something else or someone else, as she should. When that day comes, I'll be so glad I gave myself this gift. 

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