When I found out I was having a daughter, I promised myself two things:
1) To never, ever cut her bangs myself
2) To not push her into who I want her to be
Eva was born a completely different kind of human than her brother. She looks different, sleeps different, even smells different. I don’t know why this is so surprising but it is. Every day I look at her and think, “Who are you? Where did you come from? Why aren’t you crying?”
From the beginning, breastfeeding was hard. An opposite experience from Sir Nurses A Lot. She pushed me away, cried in frustration, and squirmed out of my arms from the day she was born. I tried anyway. I pumped, didn’t pump, took away the bottle, brought it back again, and ate so much fenugreek that my skin started to smell like IHOP. Some days I thought it was getting better, but mostly it got worse. Eventually I called a lactation consultant. I told her I was trying so hard but I couldn’t do it anymore. She said, “But honey, look at how much you’ve done.”
I let all my tears go.
Finally at six months, I waved the white flag and Evie drank bottles of formula and some breast milk, only nursing once in the morning. A recreational feed. Her eyes darting over my face even in the darkest room, waiting for it to be over.
Yesterday she gave up that morning feed for good. We’d been struggling for weeks. I took her into quiet spaces, encouraged her with my best la leche voice, but she couldn’t be convinced. And then yesterday morning she looked up at me with her sweet angel face and I thought, I can’t change who you are. I won’t push you into who I want you to be.
And then I let it go.
Of course there is sadness. Disappointment. And then, a little relief. I grieve the loss of a breastfeeding relationship that never happened, but find peace in moving on. Moving forward. Letting go.
It is always the hardest part of parenting for me. It’s not the high-pitched whining or marker on the bedspread or bananas thrown on the floor. It isn’t even the metal tractor I stepped on yesterday. It is always, always the letting go. The constant practice of unclenching my grip and allowing my kids to be who they are, even when they are only a few months old.
I fed my baby with my body for six whole months, and in the mornings for another two. Today I celebrate that.
And then I let it go.