When I was in the early days of struggling to feed my newborn son, I never, ever thought I’d eventually be writing a piece about how the process of breastfeeding helped me reclaim my sense of self. My sense of self was one of the furthest things from my mind at the time, actually: buried deeply beneath concerns over whether or not my baby was getting enough nourishment, fears of whether or not I was failing miserably as a mom, and questions about how to tell which bodily fluid was smeared on my shirt because it was 3 a.m. and dark and my eyes were half-shut when it happened.
However, wonder of all wonders, breastfeeding eventually clicked for my son and I, slowly but surely and like many other aspects of parenting. In fact, not only did it click, but we found a rhythm, a routine, and managed to keep it up for over two years. If Future-Dena had tried to tell me, as New-Mom-Dena, that such a thing was possible, I’d have thrown my nursing pillow at her and completely disregarded her crazy talk while simultaneously assuming I was simply hallucinating from exhaustion. Breastfeeding seemed impossible at first, but in the end it eventually worked. In fact, not only did it work, it taught me a number of things about my son and about our relationship and about my own sense of self.