Worth It

Mother shopping online for her baby clothes on phone and breastfeed
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I Have So Many Photos Of Me Breastfeeding My Girls

It was 41 months of my life. Hell yeah I took selfies.

I’ve been a mom for nine years now, and in those nine years, I’ve had three daughters and breastfed each of them. It sounds so simple when I write it like that, but (so far) my breastfeeding journey totals 41 months of my life, and that feels significant. I’m deeply proud of the work I put into nursing, of the sleepless nights and the newborn cluster-feeds, but I’m also proud of how breastfeeding my daughters made me feel. And I’m endlessly surprised by just how many pictures I took of myself breastfeeding.

I was definitely a nursing cover kind of gal. I 100% do not care if anyone else breastfeeds without a cover, but I never ever felt comfortable nursing without one unless I was at home. Maybe people thought I was embarrassed or ashamed. Maybe they thought I still had some misogyny baked deep within me. Maybe they thought I was trying to hide nursing my child because I didn’t want anyone to know.

But the camera roll in my phone tells a different story.

I breastfed my first baby in 2014, lying on the bed in the recovery room after having been cut open just 20 minutes before so they could pull my girl out. Still woozy from the drugs and numb from the waist down, I have zero memory of my mom coming in to see me. But I do remember them placing my daughter on my chest, my arms a sea of cords and tubes, warm towels draped over every part of me. A nurse asked me if I wanted to breastfeed her. I did. “I didn’t read any books,” I sheepishly said. The nurse just looked at me.

“You don’t need a book. Just try it.”

And I did. And it worked. And I literally could not stop thinking about it. About how my body knew just what to do. How my baby knew just what to do. And none of this is meant to shame anyone who doesn’t want to breastfeed or who can’t breastfeed. Not one single moment of my experience is being shared to discredit someone else’s or make them feel less than — but I was truly just amazed. I talked about nursing my girl to everyone who would listen. I felt incredibly proud every time a nurse walked in to say, “Wow, you got that figured out, didn’t you?” And I just could not stop taking pictures of myself breastfeeding my daughter.

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Selfies of me with a baby attached to my breast. Photos my husband took in the NICU with our second daughter when she had her feeding tube removed and immediately latched, despite everyone warning me she might struggle. Middle-of-the-night grainy shots of my third daughter nuzzled into me like she just belonged, drinking milk so fast it spilled out of her cheeks and down her chin.

There are close-up photos of my baby’s latches, professional photos of me nursing our baby during a family photo-shoot, even pictures of my babies when they were big enough to break their latch and smile at me, my nipple unfocused in the image. It feels so strange to share all of this — who admits to having a million photos of their boobs that aren’t actual thirst traps (although, my actual babies might argue with the thirst part)? It’s not like any of these photos were ever taken to share with anyone else — I don’t even know if I would show them to my children.

But they are for me. They are full of joy and pride. They are a reminder that, no matter how I feel about my body on my worst day, it literally did that. It fed my three daughters. I’ve taken a lot of photos of my body over the years, usually for lovers and social media and dirty text messages sent to my now-husband when he was sick with the stomach flu and couldn’t see me for a week. I don’t ever go back and look at those.

But the photos of me breastfeeding? Those are saved, favorited, in a folder in my Google Photos account. Nursing a child is hard. Getting up every two hours is hard, finding a quiet place with a distracted 6-month-old to nurse them to sleep is hard, having to watch how fast you drink your beer at a Braves game because you’ll have to breastfeed again in two hours is hard. But when I scroll through them, I can still feel everything I felt when those photos were taken — just pure love. And maybe some chapped nipples.