A Goodbye Letter to My Breastfeeding Journey

Abbey Williams

Dear Breastfeeding Journey,

It’s been a long, exhausting, bonding, miserable, joyful, and everything in between road, and as I feel this chapter coming to an end,

I’m sad. I’m grateful. It’s very bittersweet.

There have been moments of pain. Clogged milk ducts, bouts of mastitis, latching issues, low supply, unmet expectations, pumping issues, cracked nipples, and so many moments of feeling isolated and alone in my journey.

There have been moments of peace. Sitting alone with my sweet nursing baby, the relief of them getting their belly filled, the quiet bonding experiences, and the feelings of pride at what the female human body can do.

I can feel this chapter closing, and I am both so ready and clinging on to these last moments.

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Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Over ten years, I have fed four beautiful babies from my body.

Each breastfeeding journey unique between baby and mommy, and each with their own challenges and triumphs.

There have been moments of resentment that my nipples are the only functional nipples in the house while Dad gets his body to himself.

There have been moments of secret selfishness that I have this bond with my baby that no one else does.

New mothers receive so much information, advice, and judgment around how they feed their babies. It’s really hard to navigate at times through the information overload. But the thing that is missing the most from the conversations and the resources are the emotions tied to breastfeeding. There are so many emotions. There are so many emotions that change and that are different with each breastfeeding journey.

I had a low supply with two of my babies and the feelings that came with each could not have been more different. With one I rolled with what I had and supplemented the rest. It did not faze me or stir up a lot of emotions at all. But with the next it was my biggest source of anxiety. I was working, in school, and trying to keep up with my family that it felt like my milk supply was the only way I could serve her. I wish I could go back and give myself some grace. I was so isolated as I hid in my office during lunch to pump the little bit I would get. I wish I could go back and tell myself to connect with peers because it would be better for my mental health.

Breastfeeding in public and in front of others was superpower I acquired over time. I remember picnicking on Mother’s Day and my husband forgetting to pack my nursing cover. I was so mad at him. How would I feed my baby without a cover? I ended up popping into a little shop and buying a shirt to drape over myself to cover us. I have breastfed in hot places covered, I have fought angry babies who didn’t want to be covered, I have breastfed in bathrooms and hidden away places, and I do wish I could go back and sprinkle some confidence on that mama. Once I got over the fear, figured out what clothing kept me covered but able to feed, and learned how to multitask the breastfeeding-conversations-with-others combo life felt lighter. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s still a nice excuse to slip away and have a quiet moment with your baby or just a break from the family!

Breastfeeding was ultimately the reason I left my full-time job. I didn’t feel supported as a new mother at my place of employment, it took me longer to pump than what was available to me, and the stress was overwhelming. I could not keep up as a mother and an employee in the environment I was in. With one breastfeeding journey cut short as a result of these feelings of inadequacy and another baby on the way, I left the workforce. And in leaving and being home with the next two babies, the joys far outweighed the misery.

I began on a child led journey. I would nurse them to sleep if they needed me to. I would nurse them in the late hours of the night if they needed me to. I would nurse them at the pool if they needed me to. And I was less stressed and more at peace surrendering to our breastfeeding journey. Knowing now how temporary this time is. Knowing now to go with the flow.

And now after breastfeeding for a combined 3 years of my 10-year motherhood journey, I find myself torn.

I am mourning the moments that are no longer to come. I’m grieving little pieces of them that are getting left behind. I’m sad there will never be another new baby to join our family. Not in the way that I grow them, birth them, and sustain them, anyway. It’s a chapter of our life that is closing. And there was so much magic and joy in that chapter.

And I often find myself wondering if I appreciated it enough. Did I soak up those moments the way I should have? Was I present enough?

I laugh at the clichés that drive mothers who are in the trenches crazy, the “enjoy it because it goes so fast.” I laugh because it’s so true. It slips through your fingers. And then it’s over. Forever.

But I am equally excited for the next chapter. I’m excited to have my body to myself again and for intimacy with my husband to be easier than it sometimes feels as a breastfeeding mother. I’m looking forward to all the moments that are to come for our family. With each little piece that gets left behind a new one takes it’s place.

It’s the both of motherhood.

Being both exhausted and grateful.

Being both at peace and at angst.

Being both happy and sad.

If you are closing your breastfeeding journey too, know any and all feelings are welcome and ok. It’s ok to be celebrating and over this chapter. Breastfeeding will kick your butt, it’s hard, and it’s a lot of work. It’s ok if you are grieving. Maybe you have unmet expectations, you loved it, or you are just sad that this chapter is closing.

Breastfeeding journey, it’s been a rollercoaster, but thank you for the ride.

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Abbey Williams is the producer and host of the Mimosas with Moms Podcast, content creator of the social media platforms @mimosaswithmoms, and mother of 4. She is committed to supporting, empowering, and connecting with mothers in all seasons of motherhood. She navigates her blended family/coparenting life with her husband, four kids, and two sister labs.

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