When I was younger, I always thought of March as kind of a transition month. We looked forward to March. In upstate NY, winters can feel long. March is “almost” spring. Maybe we will get a little more snow, but it doesn’t stick. Even the sun feels a little warmer.
Last March was hard. I lost my father to a hemorrhagic stroke, and we were devastated. 3 days after we lost my dad, my mother in law died too. 2 unbelievable losses, impacting many, many families. So much sadness. We were numb. Months went by, holidays were hard, as anyone who has lost a loved one would tell you. Christmas and New Years came and went, and I was never happier to say goodbye to a year as I was 2019.
Here we are in March again. Coming into this month, I was not looking forward to the first anniversary of both my dad and Julia’s passing (the 24th and 27th of the month). My sisters and I talked about how we would spend some time with our mom, maybe having dinner together on the anniversary. Lots of plans for this month to keep us busy – I have a cool trip to LA to meet up with amazing breastfeeding people, my husband had a work trip that had been on the back burner for a year. We were talking about taking the kids away for a long weekend, and my husbands’ kids had their own trips planned too. They had been very close to their grandmother, so this first anniversary was a difficult thing for them as well.
5 days into March and we lost my husband’s father. A couple months of being sick on and off, but more likely he was tired of living without Julia and it was just time. It doesn’t make it easier, and still leaves a void that won’t be filled. The loss of a parent is paralyzing, and can make you think back on your life in a completely different way. As I came into my career as a lactation consultant and maternal child health specialist, I was fascinated by the attachment that occurs between a breastfeeding mother and her infant. A bond that cannot be severed, and a bond that can not be imagined until you experience it. I have spent a lot of time over the last year considering the bond I have (had) with my parents, the bond my husband had with his parents, and the bond I have with my own children. They are all different in their own way. I can honestly say that the bond I hold with my children is stronger than what I have with my parents. I’m not saying that in a negative light – just an observation. I am aware that I can credit this attachment I feel with my kids to the breastfeeding relationship we had when they were babies. I KNOW this is what kept us close, and it continues to keep us close. I know this because I did not feel like I had bonded with them in any other way. Becoming a mother was difficult for me, and I truly believe that if it was not for breastfeeding, the attachment would not be there at all.
Attachment is one of my favorite breastfeeding benefits. Of course, even families who choose to not breastfeed are still bonding with their babies. For me, it was a key element in our attachment relationship, and I am grateful for this. I am grateful I never gave up when it was so difficult to keep going, I am grateful I can look back with pride and appreciation and know that we are all still benefiting from the breastfeeding relationship we shared many years ago. When it gets hard, and if you’re having a day where you feel touched out and over ALL of it, take a deep breath and think about the gift of attachment you have with your baby, and your baby has with you. Be kind to yourself.