The Mother I Am
Dartmouth NS Canada
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 25, No. 1, January-February 2008, pp. 14-16
Breastfeeding has made me the mother I am. At least on my best days. When my son was born almost 10 years ago, I wanted to breastfeed based on the incredible health benefits. Luckily, I was determined because it was not an easy road. We were plagued by Griffin's poor latch-on and thrush. But I sought help from every available source -- a public health nurse, lactation consultant, and La Leche League.
Within six weeks, everything was pretty much normal -- what's six weeks in the life of a child for whom you'll feel responsible for the next, oh, 20 years or so?
But a lot of people don't see it that way. Our society expects babies, like food and travel, to be convenient. Newsflash: children are not convenient. They're spontaneous, demanding, messy, and creative.
That's why LLL was my savior -- the Leaders and nursing moms I met there taught me many lessons, among them:
- I was not a bad mother because my baby cried frequently. And responding to his need to be nursed, held, carried, and slept with wouldn't spoil him. Instead, it would make him feel secure, while saving my sanity.
- Being with my baby most of the time was good for him, me, and breastfeeding, since it's a supply-and-demand system. By doing so, I learned to be sensitive to his moods and he learned about the wider world.
- To be still, look into my baby's eyes, and bask in his beauty and our intimate relationship.
- The body is an amazing machine.
With my now 26-month-old daughter, breastfeeding has gone much more smoothly. Tova only nurses two or three times a day, but those moments are a tender oasis in the otherwise hectic life of a busy toddler and harried mom. Still, we've had our challenges. And each one has taught me a little bit more about being the mom I want to be.