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Giving My Nipples A Purpose


"If this ever stops hurting," I squealed as Delaney latched, and every muscle in my body tightened, even my little pinky toe flexed; "I will breastfeed her for two years! I swear it!". My mom laughed and assured me it would stop hurting, but when? "Soon," she says, "just keep doing it- don't give up." She commends my determination. The truth is, even I am surprised at my persistence- I cannot even think of stopping nursing. My whole life, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. A part of that comes from Lisa's positivity; she loved everything about raising my brother and me. She is rarely negative about anything, but particularly about raising us, she made me think it would all be a breeze. Why didn't she tell me how hard this is? I thought it was going to be easy. Having Tommy and I brought her so much joy that all the discomforts were minor compared to the pleasure she got from it, that she neglected to remember or tell me the truth. Nursing is so hard! But something in me tells me to press on. Delaney nurses 8- 12 times on both sides a day- every day for about 1.5 months- and the pain eventually faded as my skin was rubbed off, scabbed over, and toughened.

Attractive, right? Long gone are the days of nipples being accessories-they had a purpose. Delaney gets chubbier and comes alive as the months go on. She and I spent hundreds of hours together as she nurses and so many beautiful moments. Singing to her and making her laugh, the crazy drunk look she would get when she was full, fat, and tired, drifting off. One of my favorites is when she was starving, and she would open her mouth wide and wildly try to latch her mouth and eyes wide. I was food and a pacifier. It was challenging, and it was the best job.


The part of this thing that makes me cry whenever I think about it is having to stop breastfeeding. Dr. F tells me that because of the upcoming CT scan, bone scan, and MRI that it's best to stop. This hits me hard. I learned to love nursing so much; it felt like a part of me being a mom was taken away, something only she and I could do together. She needed me for it, and I know it's not true, but it felt like I could just be replaced.

Along with the blow and uncertainty a cancer diagnosis brings, I think about my future with her. At worst, "How much time do we have left together? Will she know her mommy?" At best, the following year of my life- the life I had planned to spend with her- doing what all other babies and mommies do- would be interrupted by time away from her. Stopping breastfeeding was more than just that; it represented my insecurity, guilt, and inadequacy of being a mother.


I cried all the way home from Dr F's office. When we arrive home, I grabbed Delaney, and we went into her room. We spent a long while together, holding each other, looking into each other's eyes, and on my part- silently crying, just like I am now, writing this down. Delaney looked up at me with the same intense eyebrows that we share. Her serious face makes me laugh. I'm still her mommy. And then a plan. I pray for help finding a formula she will drink, as she rejects all the standard brands. I go to Target, pick out the best one and take it home. After she wakes up from her nap- I nervously make her a bottle; she takes it and drinks it all up. My prayer has been answered. I'm grateful I got to nurse her for almost 10 months- not quite the 2 years I swore to, but it'll have to do. The week after we stopped nursing, Delaney got her first cold. She does well and never loses her energy or appetite. I'm grateful for breastfeeding- that it kept her from getting sick from birth to around 10 months. How wonderful, I was food and medicine. As for me, I continue to pray for help with my insecurities about being a mother and the inevitable absence of battling cancer and having an infant. I'm learning daily how cancer is a mental battle, as much, if not more, than a physical one.


11 Comments


Guest
Jul 12, 2023

Let the record show you ARE an Amazing Mother and you ALWAYS will be!! Delaney is one very lucky girl to have such a strong village around her. God knew what he was doing when he picked you to be her Mama.

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Guest
Jul 11, 2023

It’s your brother from another mother. I just read your most recent entry and it was very touching, even from a male perspective. Anyone who worries about being a “bad mother” will be a great one. It’s the ones who are unconcerned and disconnected from the weight of their actions that do harm. I’m sure that no matter what that little girl will love you as much as we all do.

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Guest
Jul 11, 2023

Thank you for sharing this with us. What an incredible mama you are.

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however strong you THINK you are, you’re even stronger. To be inside your mind for a couple of minutes was an honor🥹 You amaze me, keep fighting

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Guest
Jul 08, 2023

written so well pet

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