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The Most Natural Thing in the World

Lenora Mesibov
Tappan NY USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 1, January-February 2003, p. 29

After four weeks of bed rest and 24 hours of labor, my daughter, Rachel, was born. My husband and I were excited and scared. She was five weeks early and she seemed so tiny at five pounds, 11 ounces. The babies in both our families had always been larger than eight pounds.

Because Rachel was early, she had a very hard time latching on. We went home from the birthing center, but she was not nursing well. She lost 12 percent of her birth weight by her first pediatrician's appointment when she was two days old. The doctor was firm that we must give her a bottle after every other feeding. I could pump and use human milk. We had to make sure she was getting fed, but worried that using a bottle to feed her would interfere with her learning to breastfeed.

By Rachel's third day home, I was engorged and crying. It was 4 am and I begged my husband to go to the store and get formula. "I can't do this," I told him, "It's never going to work." My husband sat up, put his arms around me, and refused to leave my side. He said, "This is the most natural thing in the world. We had a good pregnancy, natural labor, and a healthy baby. Let's keep up the good work. Try again."

While we worked on breastfeeding, I still pumped and my husband fed her my milk. He tenderly cradled our daughter and sang to her while feeding her. But I was getting very frustrated with the situation. My breasts hurt from engorgement. My husband handed me the phone and said, "Call Dyana, she knows how to get in touch with those La Leche people." I waited to call until 8 pm. I was afraid because it felt as though I was admitting to failure.

When I finally reached Maddy from La Leche League of Clarkstown, I was hysterical and exhausted. She gently talked me through latch on, told me how to relieve the engorgement, and she said, "For tonight, it is okay to give the baby the bottle because feeding her is the most important thing. Tomorrow we will work on correcting the problem. Get some rest." Her loving words gave me comfort and encouragement.

The next morning I called a lactation consultant, who came and worked with us for the next three days to help us learn to breastfeed Rachel properly. She showed us all the latest tricks and taught my husband how to finger-feed Rachel my pumped milk.

Paul spent many hours in the rocking chair finger-feeding our daughter. He sat beside me while I pumped. He played guitar to us while we tried to nurse or sleep and got up to get Rachel in the middle of the night. He warmed my milk so we could finger-feed when necessary. He made me tea, fixed my meals, and encouraged me to shower and rest.

When Rachel was two weeks old, Paul drove us to our first La Leche League meeting. Maddy was there, and she watched Rachel breastfeed and offered more help and encouragement to me and to two other women sitting on the couch with me. Paul waited patiently in the car.

It took six weeks before Rachel was breastfeeding well. Paul came in one morning while I was nursing on one side and pumping on the other and said, "It is time to return the pump-you made it!" I said, "No, baby, we made it. Thank you." I danced around the house the day I sent the rental pump back.

When our second child, Nicholas, was born, I was exhausted after a tough labor but determined to nurse right away. I was still in the hot tub that I had rented to give birth in. I had both my hands on the baby so that he wouldn't slip into the water, so it was difficult to support my breast to nurse. Paul knelt down beside me and gently lifted my breast and positioned the nipple so Nicholas could latch on. Paul had learned as much as I had about proper latch-on and positioning!

We became a nursing family. Without Paul's help, love, tenderness and support, I would have never breastfed my two children so successfully. And now I do volunteer work for La Leche League, leading meetings and organizing our Area Conference. Paul even leads Conferences sessions and proofreads the registration brochure and other Conference documents.

I watch him with our children and his tenderness continues to amaze me. "I married the perfect daddy," I tell myself.

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