Monday, June 16, 2014

The Close of a Long Journey (A Weaning Letter to Xiomara)

I woke up one morning last week and knew, just knew, it was time. The problem is, how do you say goodbye to something you have done for seven years? To something that has become a part of you?

I suppose in many ways this in not only my weaning letter to you, Xiomara, but also a goodbye to breastfeeding.

This time it is hard. I'm not going to lie, my emotions have been all over the place. But seven years, and then just being done? Yeah, that is hard. In fact, I've avoided writing this letter for months knowing that I once I did, it would be a closure.

Your breastfeeding journey is so unique Xiomara. From when I first knew about you, I knew I wanted to try and breastfeed you. I wasn't sure we could make it work, because quite honestly, I wasn't sure how I was going to make having two "babies" work, but I knew I wanted to try.

In one of my very first conversations with your birthmom, she mentioned really wishing she could somehow have you get breastmilk, and she was thinking of nursing you while in the hospital in order that you could get colostrum. I had asked our social worker ahead of time if I could share my thought of trying to breastfeed you, and she encouraged me to do so knowing that your birthmom would love it. So I did, and she was thrilled! When it came down to it, it was emotionally too hard for her to nurse you, so she never did.

But she did one of the most selfless acts ever, not only by gently placing you in my arms, but instead of feeding you one last bottle, she told me you were hungry but that she wanted me to be able to nurse you so she didn't give you that bottle. So there I was in a church on a hot, summer day in Georgia, in a rocking chair in the middle of a hallway nursing you for the very first time. My heart and yours melted together that day. Later on that night, exhausted emotionally and physically from the long journey to get you, I would ask daddy to take our very first picture of me nursing you. My eyes are half closed and I can see exhaustion on my face, but behind all that, I see complete bliss and happiness. My little girl, the one I had prayed and longed for, nursing on me. Something that naturally was never supposed to be, yet God let it happen.

It would be several months before my breasts got the hang of nursing both you and Meridian. Those months I became grateful for formula, because without it, I would have never known what it is like for those moms who do use it. I became grateful for that SNS nursing system because it allowed me to still nurse you and feed you, although I hated all those dang tubes! I became grateful for people like your Auntie Gen, who so generously offered to supply me with extra breastmilk until I could make enough on my own. One thing I never became grateful for is that dang pump! Always "talking" to me by chanting out the words, "American dream, American dream" in that hissing voice of it. Yeah, let me tell you something pump: pumping like a cow multiple times a day, only to produce less than an ounce, is not my American dream.

You were so tiny for so long Xiomara, that we worried about you. I ate healthy fats in order that you would get rich breastmilk full of fat. I let you nurse whenever you wanted. You were so tiny at first, that I was afraid I would smother you. But you grew, slowly but surely you grew. Introducing you to your first solid food was hard for me. You didn't really care for it either, and so we once again had to supplement with healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, butter, in order for you to try and gain weight.

Somewhere around two years old, you started to catch up with those your same age. This is also the time when I first really remember you pulling away from nursing. You needed it less and less. I started realizing how very much I would miss those brown eyes staring up at mine each nursing session. We had bonded so much through breastfeeding, that I couldn't imagine being done.

I'm not even really sure when you were done. I know you've been done for probably six plus months, but I don't have a last nursing date or memory of it like I do with your sisters. Instead, your weaning was probably the most gradual and wonderful weaning I have ever had. I didn't push you to end too soon and you didn't push me to either. It was as if you knew that I needed time to say goodbye.

Most likely, you will be our last baby, and oh how I will miss the peace I got from nursing you girls. The breaks in the middle of the day, the sleepiness of snuggling with one of you curled up in my arm and nursing to sleep. Looking deep into your eyes and sharing with you how much I love you.

Thank you God, thank you breasts, and thank you girls for some of the sweetest memories ever these last seven years nursing each one of you!

This morning I will make my very first cup of No More Milk tea, knowing it's time. You may have been done nursing months ago, but for some reason, my breasts don't know that yet, probably because they have been doing this for seven years. I'll cry as I drink every last drop, but I'll have peace knowing it is time.