**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.