Breastfeeding: The Memory of Emily

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Breastfeeding is part of my story.  It is part of Emily’s story.  From her birth to her death, I nursed her. The connection we shared for those 7 months and 6 days will forever be precious to me.

Emily and I shared a nursing relationship that was unique.  I’ve nursed all my children, but by the time Emily, number 5, came along, I was a seasoned breastfeeding mama and we were good…real good.  So good in fact, I managed to nurse her while climbing down into a dark, and rather treacherous, cave in South Dakota, adding to my extensive list of Places I’ve Breastfed.

When she became sick that night in December of 2007, I nursed her through the scary early morning hours in that lonely hospital room, waiting for a diagnosis…a diagnosis that would eventually bring a stall to our breastfeeding relationship for days on end as her tiny body healed from major surgery.

The day we were reunited, baby to breast, I cried.  I held her close, tucking those stray wisps of fuzzy brown hair behind her ears and murmuring my affection in that secret language of mothers and babies everywhere.  All the tubes and wires in the world could not keep me from her.

Life post-surgery was challenging and changed for us.  Emily was fragile.  She nursed every two hours around the clock.  Yet, my patience held.  I still look back at those weeks with fondness and an awe that I never once felt tied down or irritated by the nearly constant breastfeeding sessions.  Did I know?  Did I somehow sense those days were numbered and soon, much too soon, I would be left with only memories?  Did I feel her tiny frame slipping from my fingers as I held her tightly and gave of myself in the only way I knew how?

In the early morning hours of February 10, 2008, I nursed my little Emily for the very last time…just 3 short hours before her death.  It was just her and I in a darkened room…connecting.  For weeks on end following her death, I could feel her next to me suckling as my mind climbed out of the depth of dreams and into the world of awareness.  Not only did my heart ache for Emily, my body ached for her as well.  In excruciating, primal pain, my body mourned her absence.  Slowly, unwelcome emptiness set in and I was left with memories…beautiful memories.

Breastfeeding is not just something you do.  It is something you feel.  It is a connection, a bond, that spans time…eternity, if you will.  It is not just a mother feeding a baby.  It is a mother and a child intertwined in a dance with steps only they know, with emotions only they share.  What I wouldn’t do to dance with her again.

Instead, I dance with another.  A new little nursling with beauty and grace all his own.  He does not replace the sister he never knew, but his presence soothes her absence.  As the two of us share silent, solitary moments in the middle of the night, I am reminded of her and blessed by him.

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59 thoughts on “Breastfeeding: The Memory of Emily

  1. Again tears are running. You are right the moments we are breastfeeding are a dance that only mother and child can understand. A dance that is so very unique and sometimes hard. (((HUGS))) to you dear friend.

  2. That was beautiful, heart-wrenching; it left me sobbing.

    God bless you today, Amy, as you dance with Micah and remember Emmy.

  3. AWW! That was beautiful!
    I am so happy that you had those memories with her, how special!
    I have had such a struggle nursing Noah…. and I feel like things are coming to an end… my supply is decreasing…*sigh*…. I shudder when I think that it may be over soon…before I am ready…before he is ready. It is strange how comforting it is to a momma too… not just baby.

  4. Amy, I think that connection is something that all nursings mothers enjoy. I am 59 and I still have dreams that I am holding my babies and nursing them! Can you believe that?!? And I also have dreams that I am having babies.

    Even though I have had 14 grandkids, I still remember my early days of motherhood fondly.

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that you would be remembering the nursing times with Emily. I am glad you have your pictures and your 7 months of memories honey.

    May God hold you in His arms and comfort you as the anniversary of her homegoing comes around.

    Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

  5. This is such a beautiful post. I wouldn’t trade a moment of the beautiful times I have spent breastfeeding my precious children. Many blessings!

  6. Amy,

    Thank you for sharing another beautiful memory of you and Emily! Nothing can separate us from the bond of love and we will be reunited once more!

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  7. I’m so sorry that you can make a post like this at all, but it went straight to my heart. I’m struggling with “large family” issues and as much as it hurts to read your posts sometimes, I always walk away blessed and reminded that each moment with each child is precious and not to be taken for granted. Thank you for your candid honesty, because I’m a better mother for reading your blog. I’m remembering Emmy and that precious hat today, and as I nurse our 5th baby, our 13 month old. God bless you!

  8. I lost a son 11 years ago as a newborn baby and I could have wrote those words about your next child.

    My next child didn’t replace our son whom we lost…but he soothed the loss!

    Blessings,
    Michelle

  9. Thank you for sharing your story. It is an amazing one of love that spoke to my heart. Such a blessing that you have those amazing memories of your little girl. There really is nothing as bonding as nursing!

  10. This was a beautiful post, I have chills all over me from reading it. I am so sad that you lost your little Emily. My mommy heart breaks for you. Praying God blesses you with lots of peace as you mourn your little one and dance with your new little gift.

  11. Oh Amy! ((((HUGS)))) Thanks for sharing that today. I LOVED my breastfeeding times! Even when they were hard or painful.

    I am heartbroken that I have five little ones who never got to nurse with me. We missed out on that dance. It is also something I had to mourn when I found out I couldn’t have any more children – I had to grieve the loss of future breastfeeding as much as the loss of having any more birth children.

  12. What a lovely post. I’m weeping right now. I so very sorry for your loss. To lose your precious daughter so young must be unbearable heartbreaking. I’m glad for you that you were able to give her that closeness and that bond for her entire life.

  13. You have really spoken to my heart today. I am so blessed by your words, you have no idea. I was just complaining in my mind earlier because I have been weary from nursing my 11 month old and feeling sleep deprived and overwhelmed with life, you know- the poor me syndrome…and then I read your story about your sweet little Emmy and Oh! My heart is aching. I cannot even imagine the pain you have been through and struggle with each day. I thank you for sharing your story, as it is a reminder to us all not to take our days with our children for granted.

  14. Hi there Amy~

    Always great to read you posts!
    Breastfeeding is so specical…to bad for those who chose to miss out!
    My daughter Olivia whom just turned 2yr old in Oct. nurses all night for the most part(she sleeps in my bed!) and many, many times during the day~ I cherrish every moment!

    Blessings to you~

    Happy Thanksgiving too

    Warmly,
    Georgiann

  15. Thank you for the reminder…I had so many issues breastfeeding my daughter. Issues not with her, but with my body. I was constantly fighting Mastitis. But I am SOOO thankful that NEVER did I give up. She nursed right on through her first birthday and has now weaned herself. There is nothing like being able to breastfeed…your story touched my heart. Thankyou for reminding me to NEVER take my precious blessing for granted! Blessings to you and your family during this Thanksgiving season.

  16. Your post is beautifully written. Thanks for sharing.

    Nursing is such a precious and special time. I enjoy getting at night to nurse and snuggle my baby. This time is so short and will be gone before I know it.

    (((hugs)))

  17. Your memories of nursing your Emily are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them. My baby just weaned and I am already missing the special times we shared.
    Your life as a mom will forever make an impact on the world. I have been thinking about you a lot this week also. I read and re-read yout posts a few weeks back, and think that the Lord has been continually bringing you to my mind for prayer.

  18. Really beautiful, heartbreaking post. I love how you’ve put the feeling of a breastfeeding relationship into words.

    I’m so glad I’ve found your blog because I want to learn more about quiverfull families. Will definitely be back to read more!

  19. Loved this post.

    I went and re-read Emily’s story. It’s the least I can do to honor her precious little life.

    I cried again.

    ~Big Hugs~

  20. Bless you, Dear Amy. Breastfeeding is my favorite earthly blessing. I can’t imagine what you went through. Love and prayers.

    Pam

  21. Thank you so much for sharing your story for our contest. Your post truly paints a beautiful picture of breastfeeding. I hope many other new mothers are inspired to try because of your words.

  22. I just discovered this blog and wow… this post really touched me and brought tears to my eyes. I’m so glad the memories of your little Emily will stay with you forever.

    Be blessed.

  23. What a beautiful post. I too lost a baby who lived only 4 months. What a blessing you were able to breastfeed right up to the end. God Bless you.

  24. Oh, Amy, what a beautiful story. I had to click over and read Emily’s story, and now I’m crying and had to have my husband find the tissues! I am so very sorry for you in your grief. Thank you for sharing your story and the role breastfeeding played. You’re so right that breastfeeding is a connecting, emotional dance. It really is so beautiful, and I’m glad you were able to give Emily that gift, even when she was so sick. Blessings to you and your family!

  25. I was in the blog to inspire contest and am loving checking out all the entries! Yours left me in tears (in a good way). Your story is amazing. I can’t understand your loss, but I do understand the bonding, and that is something that can never be lost. Thank you so much for sharing. I have to go blow my nose now ;)

  26. I was also in the blogs to inspire contest and I am reading through the finalists. You’re story is beautiful. It is so wonderful to view breastfeeding as a deep relationship. I feel so connected with my son, I’m sure that will continue as long as he is breastfeeding and I will really miss that relationship when it is over.
    That being said, you must be such a strong woman to have been able to write this and to share it with all of us. Your story is heart-wrenching. I read through Emmy’s story and I sobbed. I can’t imagine loosing my baby. As a child (at 12) I lost my mother and I really love what you said about not moving on, but “moving forward” I have definitely “moved forward,” but the pain has never left me and I don’t think it ever will. Death is hard, but I try to remember all of the happy moments.

    Again, congrats on being a finalist, you deserve it, this truly is a “blog to inspire.”

  27. Oh Amy, that was beautiful and heart-wrenching all in one! It’s been many, many years since I was a young Mama nursing my babies, but I can easily recall those priceless moments with each one! What a precious bond you had with Emily, and how wonderful that you had that time with her! This post made me cry!

    And . . . I voted for you! I hope you win!

  28. I also participated in the Blogs to Inspire contest, and want to thank you for sharing this post. I cannot imagine the grief of losing a child, but I do know the joys of breastfeeding and the depth of connection and love born of that relationship. This post and the rest of your blog are truly inspiring. Good luck in the contest and God bless you and yours.

  29. What a beautiful and sad story. Thank you for sharing the memories of your dear one. God Bless You and Yours! -Andrea

  30. What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing your story, as hard as I’m sure it was. I look forward to getting to know you more on your blog!

  31. God bless you again!
    What a blessing that our children are! Why do we ever get impatient with them when we know the reality is that we could lose them?

    Oh Lord, teach us to number our (and our children’s) days!

    Love in Christ,
    Tina

  32. this is so tender, so sweet and so sad. i am so sorry for your loss. thank you for sharing your heart, though. it speaks volumes to mothers who need it. may God’s healing be consuming in your sweet life.

  33. I just finished reading Emily’s story, and now this, and am profoundly moved. It’s been less than two months since my third miscarriage, and as difficult as those losses have been, I cannot even begin to imagine having the one I DO have ripped from my arms.

    Breastfeeding has been such a blessing for me as well, especially with my latest loss, because it is as much (if not more) of a comfort to me as it is for her. I lost my first two before I had Ella, and so this has been a different experience, since my arms were empty then.

    The horror I have of God taking her away from me is so raw and real. I know that I have no reason to believe that I am more privileged than the next mother to think nothing will ever happen to MY baby, or to think the opposite, that I have had enough suffering and grief, and therefore God will spare me any further loss.

    It’s so hard to trust and just be ok with WHATEVER God has planned…

  34. Thank you.

    You have put into words what i have only felt. You spoke to the loss of one and the blessings of another. My breasts still ache for my lost children, the result of many miscarriages. The inside crook of my elbows ache to hold them, but I rest knowing they are in the arms of Jesus and the angels. Raising the children He has seen fit to bless me with, is occasionally a struggle of memories and what ifs for the children i didn’t get to know outside my womb.

    Very precious words Amy, Thank you!

  35. Pingback: Whispers Of The Heart « Are We There Yet?

  36. I have found your site in looking for something else online. I have cried with you reading some of your posts on your one with the Lord – and this nursing one has brought me to tears again. Sometimes, I moan at having to stop doing what I’m doing to nurse a hungry tummy – and I need to NOT moan. Lord, I thank you for this lady. Amy, thank you for sharing!!
    With hugs, Lori, Rochester, NY

  37. I don’t think I’ve ever read or heard any words that so perfectly, accurately, and beautifully describe the nursing relationship between mother and baby.
    It’s been over 3 years since I last nursed a child, but the countless times I nursed my boys are my most cherished memories with them.

  38. How beautiful and touching. We lost our 10th baby, Boone, after 1 fast hour of life. As I spend hours feeding my 3 week old 12th born child (and 7th son) right now, I wish I had even one memory of nursing Boone. It is a very special thing. Every loss is different and I’ve read your story time and time again, and have been strengthened time and time again. Thank you.

  39. Amy ~
    So beautifully written! So very true… Breastfeeding is a bond and language that only the mother and child share.. It creates bonds that time can take away… Grieving for a child is the hardest thing in the world – and with time – it does ease – but there is always a part of you that feels as if something is missing… Treasure these moments with your new bundle! prayer and love to you always!

  40. Thank you for your words. I too lost two babies, however, it was prior to delivery. Neverthless, one was at 21 weeks gestation and the other at 16 weeks gestation. With my first at 21 weeks, my milk supply came in, yet I had no baby to nurse. I have felt the pain physically and emotionally as well of longing to hold my baby that was no longer there. I praise God that he let me go through the trial again with losing my 5th baby at 16 weeks gestation. While I was going through the whole ordeal all over again, being induced and giving birth to a baby that was not living, the Lord used the second time to help me grieve and release to him the loss of my first baby. I had been overcome with anger about it and God graciously healed that in me. He has also used these trials to open my eyes to the blessing of children. I rejoice in being a mother to 7 beautiful children (two beholding the face of their father in heaven). Thank you for sharing your story!! May you treasure the moments and memories of your precious Emily and trust that one day you will see her again! Blessings, Kelly

  41. Wow. All I can say is wow. This post resonates with me. My friend emailed me a link to your blog because there are so many similarities between your life and mine. Emmy’s and Eva’s. Although they did not share a diagnosis. And right now I am dancing with a new little nursling and, like you said, he does not replace the sister he never knew but his presence certainly does soothe her absence. Thank you for this insightful post.