Dear Breastfeeding Mama: I See You

breastfeedingDear Breastfeeding Mama,

I see you.

Though it may sometimes feel as though you are living in a world demanding you to cover up and hide away, I see you just as you are: mother and child, bound by necessity, united in love, cloaked with dignity and strength.

I see you whether you have nursed your baby for three days or three years. I see you navigating your journey with a courageous, open heart.

I see you in the moments that have been trying, the ones for which the books did not prepare you.

You are radiant as you sit before the hospital-grade pump, exhausted and worried for your precious baby in the NICU. You are magnificent as you nervously allow the lactation consultant to guide you through the first latch; no one told you it would be so difficult. You are fierce as you work tirelessly to understand tongue and lip-tie, and the alarming dismissal of low-supply.

You are exquisite, even as you cry out with exasperation; if only someone would gently whisper that all of the mothers who came before you also once felt the need to cry.

I see you rocking your baby into the oblivion as the rest of the world sweetly slumbers. In the darkness, you calculate how many nights you have gone without rest. Wondering how much longer you can sustain, the guilt mounts as you dream of trading these moments for a decent night’s sleep.

I see you gazing upon your baby’s delicate face, tears welling in your dark-circled eyes. I see you as the love swells so intensely, you fear that your heart cannot contain it all.

I see you delighting in the precious milk-drunk haze, giggling at those tiny burps of intoxicating sweetness.

I still see your sparkle through the nipple butter, leaking, engorgement, unsightly bras and inconvenient breast pads.

I see you beaming through your work at hand-expression, locating donor milk, and SNS feeding. I feel your love as you push through the pain.

I see you as you bravely venture out for the very first time, apprehensive to feed your baby so openly, so exposed. I hear your worry. What if he cries? What if they stare? What if I fumble? I see you resolve to hold your head high, though your hands may be shaking.

I hear your plea for others to understand, your pride in these moments of feeding is not intended to cause shame. You desire simply to nourish this little one whom you love. You won’t judge if sweet babies are formula-fed; you don’t mind if people prefer to look away. You know we are all good mothers, either way.

I see you in the break-room at work, steadfast and dutifully pumping.

I see you at home gritting your teeth through the tenth breastfeeding sesh of the day.

I see you nursing as you wander the aisles of Target; help your toddler onto a toilet; take-off and come back down from way up high on a plane.

I see you breastfeeding to offer some comfort; survive through teeth cutting in; side-by-side in the early morning light to catch three more minutes of sleep.

I see you marveling at the way your baby has grown, once nestled so delicately in your lap. Now those chubby legs flair and those teeth sometimes clamp down. I see you nursing right on, all the same.

I see you as the time passes, and the hormones ebb and flow, standing before the mirror, transformed. With scrutiny you wonder if you are as delightful as you once believed yourself to be. (You are.)

I hear you as you doubt your beauty, your youthfulness and glow, then tilt your chin upward and softly, but firmly, say “Enough is enough! I am changed, yes, but a goddess emerged. I will be grateful and let go of this grieving.”

I see you holding back bittersweet tears as you realize your big girl is beginning to wean away.

I hear your tears of frustration as you wonder when this will ever end, if your body will ever again exist, unclaimed.

And, dear mama, I see you when those babies are suddenly running and playing, and your pumps and your pillows have all been packed away. Though a tender space in your heart will cherish it, always, these nights and days of endlessly giving will soon be a faraway dream.

So, sweet mama, whether you’ve been breastfeeding for minutes, or what seems like an eternity, take heart in knowing that a moment in time was abundantly filled by your love.

You are beautiful, always, and infinitely incredible. You are seen. You are special. You are loved.

 

 

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21 Responses to Dear Breastfeeding Mama: I See You

  1. Stacy August 5, 2016 at 9:05 am #

    Though we had our fair share of tough moments…mastitis, biting, marathon cluster feedings…if there is one thing I miss the most about that first year of their lives, it is nursing my babies. From that first moment when they are laid on your chest and they just know how to curl into you and latch on, such a magical bond is created. I loved reading your words and remembering those sweet times with my 3 babies who have grown too quickly!

    • Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr
      Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr August 9, 2016 at 9:59 am #

      Stacy, isn’t it remarkable how we remember the beauty in spite of all of the struggles? It is certainly a magical bond, one that I am so grateful to have felt and witnessed. Thank you so much for reading. Why must they grow so quickly?

  2. Casey August 5, 2016 at 9:06 am #

    Such a sweet article. Love it! I only was able to breast feed for 4 months so I tip my hat to the ladies who are in it for the long haul!

    • Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr
      Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr August 9, 2016 at 10:00 am #

      Casey, thank you for reading. Four months is absolutely something to be proud of! Our journeys are our own, and they are special, even if they only lasted a moment.

      • Anonymous December 3, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

        Love

  3. Kate August 5, 2016 at 10:06 am #

    Oh this one pulls at my heart strings. Breastfeeding has been such an amazing experience for me (though it was incredibly difficult and painful for quite a while) and I’m already sad thinking about my son weaning in the future!

    • Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr
      Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr August 9, 2016 at 10:01 am #

      Oh, Kate, I know the bittersweet feeling of imaging what life will be once they have weaned. Go, mama, for knowing yourself and your baby and making it through the difficulties you encountered. Thank you so much for reading!

  4. Emily August 5, 2016 at 10:59 am #

    So beautiful and heartfelt. Your words and insights were on point and I found myself smiling in complete understanding and also fighting back tears. You nailed it on the head, mama! Thanks for these encouraging words. xx

    • Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr
      Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr August 9, 2016 at 10:02 am #

      Emily, I am so honored to hear that my humble words brought you a smile. Thank you for reading!

  5. Sheila August 5, 2016 at 9:20 pm #

    I absolutely LOVE this!! I’ve been nursing my son for 17 months and struggled so much at the beginning! But it’s been so worth it! I just wish I had come across this back then when I was struggling most. Such a beautiful post, thank you!

    • Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr
      Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr August 9, 2016 at 10:04 am #

      Sheila, seventeen months, how wonderful! I struggled as I nursed my first son, too, and wish someone had spoke more about the difficulties. It felt as though I was the only one who was having trouble. Thank you so much for reading and for your sweet comment!

  6. val August 6, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    Totally nailed it – not always easy, but always worth it. So many of these paragraphs brought back memories of my 2 nursing experiences.

    • Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr
      Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr August 9, 2016 at 10:05 am #

      Val, I know that in just a breath or two my eight month old will be a big girl and all of this time nursing three babes will be just a memory, too. Thank you for reading!

  7. Shaunacey August 7, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

    LOVE this. Brought back so many of the sweet (and some not-so-sweet) memories of breastfeeding my babies. beautiful

    • Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr
      Aimee Gonzalez Niebuhr August 9, 2016 at 10:06 am #

      Shaunacey, thank you, my friend. I have found, in much of life, that as time passes the struggles seem to fade a bit and the simple beauty is what remains. Memory is a funny thing, isn’t it?

  8. Kayvona August 9, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

    Love this! I breastfed for 2 years and most definitely had to whip it out in some pretty awkward places haha. I personally cover up for my own comfort but even when covered up people still look at you. It’s sad that society doesn’t understand such a natural thing!

  9. Amanda August 9, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

    Beautiful post. My son and I struggled with breastfeeding for the first three months, but now he’s 18 months and we’re still going strong. Thanks for acknowledging the struggles and the beauty of breastfeeding. ❤️

  10. lindsay August 9, 2016 at 11:47 pm #

    this was so beautifully written, it brought tears to my eyes!!! I am so thankful to still be nursing my 14 month old daughter, even through all of the sleepless nights and pain in the beginning!

  11. Angela August 10, 2016 at 7:33 am #

    I have not had many issues while breastfeeding, but I know so many women out there need support! This si such a sweet, supportive post!

  12. Mardene Carr August 17, 2016 at 7:19 am #

    I want to scream each time I hear this. Why is it okay to have people parading breasts all over the place claiming to be “sexy” and that is okay. Yet when women want to feed their babies, a natural thing, it causes such a problem. WHat a twisted world we live in

  13. Ashley Urke | Domestic Fashionista August 17, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

    Thanks for sharing! I have a five week old and we just are now finding our groove. Things are less painful and I am starting to actually enjoy the time together! So thank you for this…while I am knee deep in the newness of it all, your words are a good reminder to be present right now and enjoy this sweet (though often tiring) time!

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