A Mommy in School
Columbia MO USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 1, January-February 2001, p. 11-12
Being a mother comes with so many challenges. You never realize how much work it is until your little angel comes into the world. Suddenly you go from organizing the nursery perfectly during each day of your pregnancy to having a tornado run through your place the minute you walk in the door with the new baby. Suddenly, all your eyes can see are piles of diapers, spit-up rags everywhere, your husband's dirty laundry piling up, and oh, don't look, it's the dirty dishes from last week. As if that weren't enough to make you want to live in a bubble bath, there's the rest of your life that you can't stop thinking about. The moments with your friends, time to think, time to sleep, and most of all, your work.
For me, work is going to college full-time. I was pregnant during my first sophomore semester and toughed it out right to the end. Even though my daughter, Olivia, was born earlier than expected, I still managed to go to my final exams two weeks after she was born. The best part was that I managed to get good grades on my exams.
After that semester was over, I took the next semester off. So all of spring and summer I was free to spend time with Olivia and get to know her and her blossoming personality. It was wonderful to have that time to share and grow with her, and I enjoyed every second (though some sleepless mornings I might have said otherwise). Even though I was enthralled by my baby, I knew in the back of my mind that school was very important. I wanted to get my degree and feel a sense of accomplishment not only for myself, but also for my family.
After making all of the proper arrangements and re-enrouing for classes last fall, I got back into the groove of college life, except this time I didn't feel like a college student. It was hard to make adjustments to my life, especially having to learn to use every second of my time wisely. I've learned that every free moment I have is essential to get the housework done, go to classes, and do homework. It requires lots of planning. Nonetheless, I persevered and I have managed to keep up my breastfeeding relationship with my now 15-month-old daughter. I don't plan to give it up any time soon.
One of the things that has kept me going and helps me-do well as I continue to attend school is knowing that I have had continuous support for breastfeeding and parenting. I am able to go to class three times a week, and stay home with Olivia the rest of the week. It works out well because I have full productive days with her, and I can breastfeed her when she likes at home. Once I first started school again, I arranged to see her during my lunch break so that I could breastfeed her during the day. Although I don't see her now during lunchtime, I make up for it in the evenings and at night so we can continue our breastfeeding relationship. I find it very soothing to have that little bit of time to be quiet with her, and I know she enjoys the comfort of being close and intimate with me.
I have been able to feel confident about my relationship with my daughter because I have been flexible and because I have support from La Leche League and other breastfeeding mothers. Although other people believe I should stop breastfeeding Olivia because they feel she doesn't need it for its nutritional value, I know that she still needs it emotionally, and to me that is more important. I would be lying if l said that I didn't need it emotionally as well. I feel that our life together has helped me learn to be more nurturing toward others.
I hope other mothers can see the benefits of breastfeeding in the long term and realize that there is always room for flexibility when it comes to our children. Sometimes I still feel like a college student who hasn't grown up, but I also feel that I have learned a lot from my breastfeeding relationship with Olivia.