Healing Through Breastfeeding

 

**Content Warning: Adoption, Loss, Separation**

 

There was no big celebration when my son was born.  It was a traumatic birth, we both almost died, according to the health care team.  I had a placental abruption. I was bleeding badly and to make matters worse, the cord was wrapped around his neck.  I was rushed to emergency surgery and put out for an emergency c-section. I met my son when he was 3 hours old. The nurse brought him to me and asked, “Did you want to try breastfeeding this baby?” It felt like a weird question. I grew up around breastfeeding babies and women. But this question felt so wrong and so right.

I was 17. I had made an adoption plan for my son. There was no breastfeeding this baby.

I spent 4 days in the hospital, with this baby wrapped in my arms.  I remember signing my parental rights away while balancing a bottle with my chin.

When I handed my baby over to his new family, a piece of my heart broke.

I was wheeled out of the hospital with empty arms, just a bag of my clothes. As I went to sleep that night, my milk leaked. It was as if my body was crying with my soul.

I remained in my son’s life, through visits and regular communication.

Fast forward 10 years to having my next child. I was awake and fully active in the birth of this baby. The Dr’s placed baby on my chest immediately after the birth.  “Do you want to try breastfeeding now?” A flood of emotions and pain came back to me. Feelings of failure as a woman and as a mother bubbled up to the surface.

First latch on was ok. Second was a bit sketchy. By the 3rd time baby ate, I was not coping. I felt as though I was failing this baby. I wasn’t able to parent my 1st child and now I was struggling to provide the basic necessity of food to baby.

I was sent home unsure of what successful breastfeeding looked like. I had no idea if my baby was being fed. My baby was very spirited; needing to be with me all the time (or maybe it was the other way around). I rarely put baby down. I watched them constantly. Afraid that I would lose this baby, maybe the universe thought I didn’t deserve my child.

As we became settled into our breastfeeding relationship, I began to grow more confident in my mothering. I was finding healing through breastfeeding. I could sit back and stare into the eyes of my baby who loved me and didn’t judge me for decisions I made in my past. As my baby grew, the opportunity to continue breastfeeding helped soothe my pain.

My healing will never be complete, loosing a part of you (by choice or not) is traumatizing. I miss my first born, deeply. My love is fierce for him. I will never feel complete.

To encourage, promote and provide breastfeeding, chest feeding and human milk feeding support and educational opportunities as an important contribution to the health of children, families and society