Dear Breastfeeding Gurus

THIS was a milestone week for us, one that has had ALL of you in my heart! This week we finished up the last of our formula and packed up the bottles that held the breastmilk and formula that grew our daughter over the last year. You were each such a huge part of the journey that led us to this week!

About four months ago I knew our breastfeeding journey was over and I found myself packing up my pump. It was such a unique experience, we had a love/hate relationship. On one hand it was INCREDIBLY freeing, this long and grueling part of my life was over! Amazing! On the other hand, I found myself grieving this part of my life ending. Breastfeeding was important to me. Before Mercy came, I set a goal... I wanted to make it to a year. At that time, I had no idea that the majority of Mercy's "breastfeeding" would come via electrical equipment that would cause bizarre and extraordinarily painful things like Raynaud's Phenomena and De Quervain's Tenosynovitis.

Despite our bizarre and awkward experience, however, I still had my heart set on making it to a year.

We made it EIGHT months, never exclusive, we supplemented with HMF or preemie formula from the very beginning and after eight months we were exclusive formula and baby food.

ALL of that was hard for this mama's heart.

You made it easier.

NICU breastfeeding gurus, you have a hard job.
Day one in my hospital bed, you showed up with this huge piece of equipment that I had no clue what to do with. You were there every day from the colostrum we swabbed in Mercy's cheeks to the first time we tried nursing during her regular tube feeding. You reminded me when I wept that it was not worth weeping over. When I cried over 10 cc's, you reminded me that 10 cc's was better than no cc's, and when there are no cc's that's ok too. You reminded me that Mercy was growing, and as far as feeding her went, that's what counted, not breast milk vs. formula.

Mama breastfeeding gurus, you have been there and back.
Your advice and the non judgmental viewpoints from mama's who struggled were immensely helpful to me when I wanted to quit. You shared your experiences, your successes, your hearts.

Breastfeeding gurus, you encouraged me not to give up, and when it was time to give up and I felt like I had failed, you encouraged me to look at my big eight month old girl growing like a weed. The evidence of incredible success stands in front of me each and every day!

Yesterday, as I packed up our Medela bottles that held so many triumphs and tears, I was reminded of the picture you painted for me...

...a picture of a King who didn't give up on a difficult mission, who, to the world, appeared to have failed His mission as He hung dying on a cross. But, oh, the success that was clearly before Him, clearly before us as we experience His saving graces each and every day!

THANK YOU for the example you set for me, the reminder that success may not look like what the world (or I!) thinks it should look like, the reminder of a King who wouldn't give up so that I could stand in His presence one day.

YOU made a difference, you had an impact on our lives!

Thank you!

**this post is part of a seven week series of 'letters' to people, events and things that were part of the life transforming work God did in our lives during Mercy's stay in the NICU - for more on our growth in the NICU, check out our CaringBridge page**