Monday, March 11, 2019

The Ending of a Journey and Honoring Those Feelings

When you think about a strong-willed person, you might think it is easy for them to be strong, hence the term.  I'm afraid that might be somewhat of a myth.  Being strong-willed means the will - or the desire for something - is strong.  Everything else is a mixed bag usually.  When I got pregnant with J 9 years ago, I was terribly concerned with everything involved in his health, my health, labor and delivery.  I never once really put much thought into breastfeeding other than I knew I would.  The will to do things is often very strong without appropriate preparation.  When he was born and the realities (and absolute struggles) of nursing set in, it was clear I had no idea what I was doing.  My supply was low, he didn't latch well, I was in pain and under constant stress.  This big thing we had done, having a baby, was made bigger by every little difficulty.

But we figured it out.  We learned to latch better and recognize he was a slow nurser.  When my supply wasn't enough, we supplemented with fresh goat's milk from a local farm for a while until mine was built up.  We kept at it until he was 15 months and he's still my best eater.

My daughter was a lot easier, mostly because I had done this before and had more knowledge going in.  We were prepared to supplement from the get-go because of my history, but thankfully we only did for a few months and she was fine.  My busy girl never slowed down and we went for about 20 months when my mind and body was giving me fits and I needed to recover, especially if I was going to even think about trying for another baby. 

My Race Car was a whirlwind, an answered prayer, and a sweet salve on my wounded heart.  Ending my breastfeeding journey with him has been just as it should be, albeit very sad for this mama.  My strong will has definitely made it easy for me to desire to breastfeed my babies, if possible.  The desire was easy, but the work required was hard.  My body is sensitive and weak in a lot of ways so keeping everything afloat (which didn't always happen) involved so much investment financially, mentally and emotionally.  It was years of doing the hard thing. 

And now (as of a couple weeks ago) it is all over.  I'm so thankful that he is healthy, happy and smart as a whip.  Every time I start to cry about it, I have felt guilty because he's okay and I was able to give him this gift.  I have no complaints, but I do have emotions.  My nest is full and I can't keep up with more right now so the ending of this journey is right.  I just hate things being over for good.  There are a lot of suggestions on the internet on how to celebrate the transition out of nursing babies so I'm not here to add to the lists.  I didn't throw myself a party or make a special piece of jewelry (though I thought about it).  Instead, I've just let myself be sad.  And I bought  myself a camera/laptop bag I have been eyeing for a while.  But mostly, I've let myself have the feelings.  No one else is going to mourn this ending and nobody else will treasure the almost 2 years with him like I do.  So, then it's okay for me to be sad.

Something I'm having to learn more and more the older I get is to let people have their emotions.  It is tempting to fix them or change them when I deem them unhealthy or not good in some way. And maybe that is an alright endgame but there has to be a place where we're allowed to feel our feeling despite what the rest of the world thinks or feels.  Hiding those feelings or stuffing them somewhere will just result in personal sickness and the feelings coming back to finish you later.  We often reserve personal autonomy for things like death or divorce saying, "Everyone grieves at their own pace."  It's true, but it's true for the rest of life too.  Disappointments, frustrations, anger, depression - we all feel at our own pace.   The things that happen to you and how you feel about them may not be bad compared to some other guys, but when you feel the things, let yourself feel them in order to get through them.

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