Last week marked the end of an era for me. One night, for the final time in my life, I unclipped that little hook on the top of my bra, and fed my youngest. One more chance to feed her to sleep. A final moment of hearing those little slurping noises. The last time I’ll watch as she dozes off in my arms, getting comfort from the milk my body has made, just for her.
I was one of the lucky ones. Able to feed both of my babies for 13 and 14 months respectively. I took it for granted the first time around. It was easy. The milk came in and for the first time in my life, I loved my breasts. I thought, yes! They finally have a purpose! Avery was a star. Perfect latch, power feeder. 13 months and only one bout of mastitis when I stopped feeding her that last pre-bed feed.
Knowing things could be completely different the second time around, I still secretly expected it was all going to go smoothly again, because how could it not? My body was a milk-making machine! Ha! Niamh had other ideas. A tongue-tie that we waited a month to snip just in case it self-corrected. Trauma from the bad latching led to nipple vasospasm (where blood vessels tighten and go into spasm, so that blood does not flow to the nipple). Searing pain for months not only during feeds, but pretty much all the time, resulting in pumping exclusively on my left side for a month straight. It seemed like I was losing the battle. I almost gave up. But if you know me, you know I’m a stubborn thing and so I persevered. Maybe a little longer than I should have. It almost broke me, but I kept going. And now here we are, 14 months strong. Time to hang up the maternity bra and pack away the reusable breast pads. I quit. Well, more like Niamh quit.
In my head, I had this vision of the last time Niamh and I would share our special feeding time together. I would decide that this was the final feed. I would spend those precious moments watching her as her eyes got heavy and her breathing went from rushed and needing to get in milk as quick as possible, to calm and quiet as she drifted off to sleep. I would let her sit there for a moment longer than normal and reminisce about our feeding journey (ugh that word. Not a fan) in the dark with my precious babe sleeping in my arms, boob still in mouth.
Of course, that’s not how it went at all. A last minute flight to Adelaide at 7pm saw Niamh refuse her feed on the plane. “It must be all the noise, lights and distractions,” I thought to myself. She’ll be right tomorrow night. And so I tried again the following night. Still, not interested. Arched back. Tears. No dice. And then once more the following day. Complete and utter rejection.
So here we are today, a week on. Our journey (again…) has come to an end. To my breasts, I say thank you. You gave my girls an amazing start to life, providing them with the nourishment and comfort they needed during those first precious moments and beyond. Sometimes it amazes me what our bodies are capable of.
Now… Where did I put those small, lacy bras with the underwire?[
(Just kidding. T-shirt or sports bras fo’ life!)
Feature image courtesy of Kayleigh McGlynn Photography