My breastfeeding journey has ended and I am ok

I began writing about my breastfeeding journey in February 2020. That year marked the start of this blog and the third year of my journey. I recall laughing throughout the years because there was no way I could have predicted that I would last beyond six months given our challenges. My body is amazing and I am forever grateful that it allowed me five and a half years of nurturing my daughter.

The start of our journey (2017) had its issues. I had a traumatic birth, a premature baby with a low birth weight, a low milk supply and latch difficulties. I remember the emotional toll during the first few months despite being fully prepared for the journey. Preparation was an understatement because I read books and researched online yet nothing could prepare me for our particular challenges. I felt like I had failed my daughter because our experience differed from all that I had prepared for. I recall the sleep deprivation of having to pump around the clock so that she could have expressed milk (recall that she could not latch). I was the food supply and my baby was solely dependent on me to figure it out. Those around me questioned my dedication and could not fathom why I hadn’t given up. My journey was far from what I thought I was signing up for but somehow we kept on going.

Focusing on one hour at a time and living life in three hour increments was my new normal. We were the little engine that struggled. Tears, a fabulous IBCLC, more tears, becoming a CLC, perseverance and more tears made it all come together by the second year. Year three (2020) stands out for obvious reasons. By this time we were smooth sailing and nursing was second nature. Everything changed in March 2020 and my three year old reverted back to a nursing schedule of a newborn. Shelter in place mandates were instituted given the pandemic and we had to adjust to being home 24/7. It was clear that she was also impacted by the abrupt routine change. I was not prepared to nurse a three year old on demand, run a mental health practice and meet with clients virtually. I am eternally grateful for understanding clients, oversized shirts, nursing coverups and a camera that could be turned off if needed so she could nurse. Breastfeeding was the only aspect of our lives that represented normalcy. My body was able to get my baby through the height of the global pandemic! Somehow we kept going. The months turned into years and I went on to chronicle year four (2021) and five (2022). I also detailed my journey on a podcast.

I admit that I considered stopping but decided against it because all of our challenges had disappeared. There was truly no reason to stop. Criticism and weird looks from others was not a good enough reason to end what I deemed to be normal. I was not emotionally ready to stop and would cry every time I considered it. My natural response of crying let me know that we had to keep going. The CLC in me would refer to what I tell my clients. “You and your little one can decide the duration of your nursing journey.” I stood on this and lived up to it without much thought. By 2022 she was nursing two times a day—once at night and once in the morning. If I survived all that came with the newborn stage and a global pandemic, surely nursing two times a day was a no-brainer. It was a fair compromise for me not wanting to totally end and a child that could not live without her milk.

In August 2022 I officially had a Kindergarten student that would be turning six in five months. Nursing two times each day was still the routine. I strongly considered stopping because I was tired. By now my supply was meeting the demand of nursing two times a day. I was no longer in a position where I needed to maintain a substantial production because it was the sole source of food. Stopping was not abrupt enough to cause clogged ducts and a period of depression given the hormonal shift. I put space in between us by allowing her to fall asleep on her own and I would ensure that I was busy each morning when she would awake. Of course she would politely remind me that she did not get her milk for the day. I began incorporating discussions with her about her milk needing to go away. It was imperative that the end was near because she lost two bottom teeth which made the latch beyond painful. Contrary to popular belief I felt no pain from a full set of baby teeth thanks to the latch that was perfected over time. The discomfort came from a child with missing teeth! I give her credit because she was extremely careful and tried her best not to hurt me each time she nursed.

The pain of a child nursing with missing teeth gave me the courage to finally end our journey. I was content with my decision despite her gentle reminders about needing milk and occasional tears before bedtime. It still was not enough to make me assume the nursing position. I did not cry which told me that I was finally ready for it to end. It was a beautiful journey and the time flew by quickly. Ending was a necessary part of the process because my baby is growing up. Reflecting on the entire journey always reminds me about the bond that we share. Choosing to breastfeed signifies my path to motherhood and the many sacrifices that come with the role of mother. Motherhood is the hardest, most rewarding experience that I am blessed to experience daily. The gift keeps on giving and new challenges arise daily as she gets older. If we can breastfeed for over five years; we can overcome anything!

I currently have a six year old and she fondly remembers her milk. She no longer reminds me that she hasn’t had her milk. Instead she gives them a hug from time to time and tells them that she misses them. For now, this is our normal. She is careful to focus on each side. This concept is not foreign to either of us because each side requires attention—what is done on one side must be done on the other side in order to maintain a healthy supply. We lived this way for over five years, however, 2023 is different. I checked out six months ago but my baby still understands the assignment!

Click here to read about my entire journey.

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

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