I breastfed my son for one year. At the end of the year, I felt as if there should be some award ceremony, a certificate of completion, or a badge– some token to reward me for a year of Q3 hour wakings, pumping, sore nipples, more pumping, navigating public breastfeeding without indecency, and more pumping. Returning to work after 6 weeks with a newborn on a vertical growth curve was challenging to say the least. I measured my success as a mom by how much milk I was able to provide. Because after all, I might not have been there when he woke up, or when he needed his diaper changed, or when he wanted to play, but I sure did provide him milk and some days that was my only contribution. So I worked hard at it and that kind of hard work is usually rewarded.
In practice, I have met so many moms who repeatedly say, “I just can’t do it for more than __ months.” Everyone has their limit, and I certainly said the same thing many times. Sharing my own experiences though I am able to offer some hope– it gets better, it’s worth it. It may be hard to see the benefits when you are exhausted and the months ahead of you seem endless. Eventually though, you gain the perspective to see the reward: that cute, chubby breastfed baby who is healthier because of you. Some of my best memories are with his cheeks flushed, his belly full, and his head snuggled on my chest. I remember looking at him at 6 months and thinking, I grew you. What better reward is there than that?