The birth of my second child created a path of grace that was both excruciating and powerful. She was born with dysphagia, a swallowing disorder that prevented her from nursing successfully. I knew that first weekend home we were dealing with something huge, as I successfully and very enjoyably nursed my first child for 25 months, until she decided she was finished. This new child was unable to coordinate her breathing, tongue, and swallowing. Eating was such a challenge for her. She was at moderate risk of aspirating. It was so sad to watch and the stress was hard to cope with both for me and for her. I grieved the nursing relationship with this new baby. I suffered and became very depressed. I thought I was a certain kind of mother, the kind who nursed her baby on demand, who didn’t use pacifiers, who was ALL NATURAL. I mourned for my older child who would not be seeing me nurse. I had to rethink everything from who I was as a mother to who I was as a person. Since that very first weekend I have been exclusively pumping my breast milk for her. Syringe feeding turned into bottle feeding. I went from the mother who looked down on bottle feeding to the mother who bottle fed. Granted, it was my own breast milk she was eating, but it was still a life altering experience that allowed me to open my mind. I learned to judge less. I learned that as parents we want our children to be happy and healthy. We are for the most part all in the same boat regardless of our situations. We are forever growing and learning with our children. For me, I realized that nursing is not the only way to bond. Yes, it seems to be a given, the “easy” road sometimes, but I still wear this baby. I sleep with her. She is never left to “cry it out.” I attend La Leche League meetings regularly so as to share my experience and to also normalize nursing for my older daughter. My baby is now 3 months old. The nursing will most likely not happen and I’m okay with that, finally, but I am still so connected with this child and she with me. I still pump and bottle feed and frankly it’s a lot of work. She’s still in feeding therapy, but we are happy. It’s not at all what I was expecting when I carried her, but the universe had different plans for me. I am a better mom and perhaps my experience might allow others to grow as well. Follow up from Holly today: The nursing never did happen. I pumped until she stopped finishing bottles, around 13 months. I felt I got my life back after that. No more pumping; time to just be with my children, time to reflect on how we moms just never know what we’re going to get from life, time to understand that all mothers are powerful regardless of our situations and choices.  I think it is incredibly important for a lactation consultant to meet a mother’s emotional place as well as offer her expertise and guidance in a clinical way. Ellen was very good for me. I’ve met with other breastfeeding support people that were not so warm and it is awfully hard to move forward when you’re stunted emotionally. When nursing isn’t going well it becomes your air, and there is no escape or pause. When it’s particularly rough and emotionally trying you feel as though you’re in a deep hole with no light. Feeling empathy and emotional support from your LC brings some visibility.