This week is World Breastfeeding Week, and while I cherished 20 months of nursing my first child, Jaxton, that experience is not what I’d like to bring to light this year.
Instead, I’d like to give a shout out to all of the moms who long to be feeding their babies right now. To the mom who sobbed a few days postpartum because her breasts were full of milk her body made for a baby who would never need its nourishment. To the mom who suffered silently through physical pain of engorgement and the raw emotional pain of grieving her child, all while still recovering from birth. To the mom with a nursing pillow and breast pump sitting unused in the closet of an empty nursery. To the mom who made the brave choice to pump and donate milk following her baby’s death. To the mom who has never had the chance to nurse a living child. To the mom who doesn’t know if she’ll ever get to nurse another baby.
I should be a nursing mom with a six month old baby right now, but my baby boy Finn never took a breath. I wish I could say my situation is rare, but I have met too many moms who have suffered this same trauma. 1/160 pregnancies in the U.S. end in stillbirth. The mothers who make up the “one” in that statistic are real, like me, and their pain often goes unseen.
To the moms who are currently nursing little ones, I know it can be tough to wake up multiple times in the middle of the night because you’re the 24-hour milk buffet and you’re the only one who can feed your baby. I know it can be stressful to worry if your baby is getting enough milk. I know it can be difficult to nurse in public. I know that pumping isn’t fun. I’ve been there and done that. But I also know the reward of seeing a happy, growing, milk-drunk little person and knowing you contributed to that. When breastfeeding gets tough, I hope my story will give you encouragement to keep going. Breastfeeding is such a special bond, and the ability to provide any amount of your milk for any amount of time is a priceless gift to be able to give your child.