An Open Letter to My Breastfeeding Clinic

To the lactation nurses and staff at the WesleyCare Breastfeeding Clinic:

When my five-day-old baby and I showed up at your clinic, we were desperate. I felt defeated—a brand new mother holding a jaundiced baby who was losing too much weight. In the hospital, I had thought breastfeeding was going well. I brushed aside your visit to our room and offer to assist.

I was wrong.

After a long, long, long second night at home that culminated in my husband reading “how to breastfeed” instructions to me while I fought through the pain of chapped nipples to feed our screaming daughter, I was ready to admit we needed help. You were there, with no judgment, eager to offer support and guidance.

Thank You for Teaching Me to Trust My Body

Breastfeeding is the hardest physical work I have ever undertaken. Ever. In the early weeks, it felt like an equation I couldn’t solve. How much milk is she getting? How long do I feed to fill her up? How much does she need to gain weight? You taught me to trust that my body knew the solution and would meet the demand to provide what she needed. You showed me how—with information and feeding positions and pumping techniques—to train my body to perform its job. It worked. Thank you for teaching me to appreciate my body and trust its ability to feed my daughter.

Thank You for Providing Companionship

I have a confession. Sometimes during my maternity leave, I came to visit you even after breastfeeding was going well for us. I said we were there for a weight check, which we did need after my daughter’s slow start to gaining weight. But mostly I needed someone to talk to that day. Somewhere to go that wouldn’t become complicated when my daughter needed to feed. The companionship of your clinic—visiting with the nurses, seeing other new moms trying to figure this all out—did as much for my spirit as your medical assistance did to help make breastfeeding work for us.

Thank You for Documenting the Precious Unseen Moments

During one of my visits, a nurse asked if I wanted my picture taken while breastfeeding. I had never thought about having a photo taken while nursing. The above picture is my favorite photograph of myself with my daughter. It shows me at my most vulnerable as a new mother. It portrays our journey of bonding, learning, experiencing together. I will be forever grateful to the nurse that suggested capturing this precious time.

This week, I packed up my breast pump and took it home from work for the last time. Weaning is a flood of bittersweet emotions (and the hormonal changes aren’t helping). I’m nostalgic for this chapter that’s closing for my daughter and me. I’m relieved to be on the cusp of reclaiming my body from the commitment of breastfeeding. But mostly, I’m grateful to have shared this experience with my daughter for nearly a year. It has been a gift

I am so very thankful to you for all you did to help give us this gift. I say unequivocally that breastfeeding would not have worked for us had it not been for your presence, wisdom, and compassion.

Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

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