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August 1-7, 2016 is World Breastfeeding  Week.  This week is among the various weeks that are near and dear to my heart. While I feel that “fed is best”, breast is what I have chosen to do for my two youngest children.

Breastfeeding is a huge challenge. It is all consuming in the beginning. I spent my first weeks, for hours on end, sitting in the glider with Willow at my breast for cluster feeds. There were days {possibly weeks} where I felt like quitting. I had nipples that were so cracked and bloody, that my baby spit up more blood than milk. I’ve had clogged milk ducts. I’ve spent nursing sessions with my toes curled and tears running down my face because of the pain. But still, I persevered.

I have felt like a failure, every time I had to make a bottle to substitute for my needing to let my nipples rest. I have felt like a failure, every time I used a nipple shield in an attempt to heal my nipples. I have felt like a failure, when no amount or brand of nipple cream worked well enough to allow me to not cry every time my baby latched on. But still, I persevered.

And here I sit, three months in, and I wouldn’t change any of it. I have given my baby the greatest gift I could to date…. I gave her time, dedication, and sustenance from my battered, bruised, and often bloody breasts.