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Nursing: How do you know when it’s time to let go?

A few years ago, I had my third (and possibly last) baby girl. I always thought I was the one-and-done type, so having two more kids after 9 years of having an only child, really showed me that I was not who I thought I was! Surprisingly, one of the most difficult parts of motherhood for me was breastfeeding, but not in the ways you’d think…

My Admission- I remember when my daughter was 18 months old, and I was up at 3 am working one night. She crying like crazy since I was in the process of weaning and I literally broke down crying right along with her, realizing I was not ready to stop breastfeeding. Weird right? I mean, who would honestly want a very heavy, very demanding little person clawing and screaming for breast milk constantly throughout the day? Anytime and anyplace, no matter who's around? Well, apparently, I would… and I HOPE I'm not alone! Seventeen years ago I nursed my first baby for 8 months, 9 years later I nursed my second for 13 months, and 4 years after that I was at the mark with my final boob baby. After having her and deciding she would be my last, I made a personal goal to breastfeed as long as my baby, and my body would allow. Nursing has always been the best, most intimate part of motherhood. Unlike a lot of other moms who couldn't fathom the pain, stress, demand, and discomfort that come along with nursing, I had it easy.

My Truth- Of course, there were times when I was engorged and in pain to the point of tears, boobs the size of basketballs with angry veins protruding everywhere from clogged milk ducts, the many times my shirt ended up soaked in public because I forgot my nursing pads, oh and don't forget the time when I developed mastitis and had to be kept overnight in the ER to have my nipple drained! My breaking point had to be most recently when I caught myself slipping into a slight depression from the overwhelming mental and physical demand of having an exclusively breastfed, fully functioning toddler, throwing tantrums and wanting to be held and nursed for hours on end.

My Reality- Even after all of that, after all those crazy experiences, I would do it all over again. From the first time my oldest was able to latch on, the RIGHT way, I immediately felt an indescribable bond. There's a deep, intimate connection created when you can look down into your newborn’s eyes and stare at them while they gaze up at you in complete admiration. This feeling is by far the best part of motherhood for me. Imagine, knowing your body not only created human life but was, even so, amazing that it was able to produce this life-saving liquid gold to sustain that life as well... even if only for their first few days on Earth.

My Dilemma- After almost 19 months of debating when I would stop, I finally decided in a moment of frustration and sleep deprivation. I decided I was not going to do it anymore. Those past few days had been so overwhelming. It's like going through withdrawals... for both of us. My daughter was so devastated and did not understand why Mommy no longer wanted to bond. My heart would break whenever I had to look into her eyes and try my best to explain it to her. She was sad. I was sad and we would just cry together. I already missed the overall experience of being able to bring a life into the world, so that definitely doesn’t help giving up on this bonding experience.

My Revelation- I don't know if I was holding on to that connection for myself or for her and I found it much harder than I ever imagined it would be to let go this time around. Maybe because I knew I would never be able to experience this miracle again or maybe it was fear of judgment from others. We went through 4 days of her crying overnight and pleading during the day and my feelings of regret were getting worse. I hoped that with time, we could bond in a different way that was even deeper than before, but I surely missed that special bond of ours.

My Choice- After everything was said and done and despite what anyone said or thought, I decided to do it my way! I nursed my daughter until she was a walking, talking sassy little 3- year-old and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Weaning her came naturally when the time came. We weren’t sad about it and it didn’t feel forced at all. Motherhood is a journey that looks different for every mama, so always do what feels right for you, whether it's one day or 1000. So, I guess it's on to the next stage of motherhood!

Tamecia Sanders Owner of @sheabutterbabynaturals

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