The end of the strike is a huge deal.
I felt a lot of things I'd never expected to feel in the 7 days 12hrs and 17 minutes that Jericho went on his nursing strike. And although I hate a lot of those feelings I feel it's important to share my journey so when others experience something similar they'll know they're not alone in the intense emotional experience that an abrupt nursing strike can bring.
To be completely honest I felt completely lost during the strike. I felt unable to comfort Jericho when he's needed me most, when he was so sick. I felt like a terrible mom. There were many times when Jericho sat and cried because I was alone and pumping to keep my supply, pumping to get milk to prepare him some food. I cried. A lot. I cried because he cried. I cried at what felt like the loss of our closeness. I cried because I didn't know how to be a gentle parent without breastfeeding. I cried from engorgement. I couldn't pick Jericho up for two days because my breasts were so tender. I cried when he'd finally fall asleep WITHOUT me. I cried from the loss of morning cuddles, morning singing, night feeds, bonding and our gentle relationship.
And there were a lot of dark, frustrated moments too. I wasn't myself. I struggled greatly to not feel irritated. Useless. And for the first time ever I understood the unfortunate, overwhelming and sad feelings of woman who have believed the lies they tell themselves in those emotional, overwhelming and hormonal moments and left their families. Abandoned their children. Gone on by themselves because they could no longer cope. Although I would never leave my precious child I came to a place where I felt no purpose aside from pumping and I felt incredibly sad knowing that woman who have felt the same way I have didn't have the strength to tell themselves the truth and continue on. I only experienced this for barely over a week, many woman experience this on a daily basis. Relentlessly. My previous judgements and opinions have now fallen by the wayside.
So what's the truth? The truth is we have a difficult job as mother's. The truth is breastfeeding is hard. We are hormonal beyond understanding sometimes. Sometimes we experience rejection despite our children not even being capable of actually rejecting us. The truth is, this is hard but it's worth it. I am strong. I can do this. I refuse to give up.
In our culture woman are often looked down on for being "just mother's, just homemakers" but our job is so much more, so emotionally & physically taxing, at times so difficult that were want to give up. But despite all of the difficulty motherhood, breastfeeding are so worth all of it. Despite how much I hated those 7 days 12hrs and 17 minutes I don't think I'd give them back if I could. I learned things about myself, about my unconditional and unchanging love for my son, about my inner strength, my resolve, determination. I experienced a deep compassion for woman who have, are and will struggle down this path or one like it. I learned everything can feel like it's falling apart and I can still come out on top with resolve to continue.
The strike is over and I'm super happy to have my son back at the breast. The moment through cries and tears that he finally took my breast into his mouth and suckled again was one of the happiest and most relieving movements of my life to date. I held my breath. Its a moment I will cherish and hold onto for a long time, it reminds me not to take anything for granted with Jericho. He's growing so fast now that any time he does one of his baby things, it could be the last time.
I'm also happy to be able to share this experience with you guys both to hopefully touch someone else's life and to remind myself of the experience that I had and what I learned so that when the next tough time comes I can look back and draw again on the strength from this experience. Its unlikely this motherhood gig is going to get any easier so I'll relish the little moments, pursue the big picture, endure with truth the hard times and love like mad.
But for this particular moment and for the next few days I'm going to bask in and enjoy lazy days in bed breastfeeding my chubby little boy bonding, laughing, singing, cuddling and loving. These days will n.e.v.e.r be long enough for me.