Nursing a Miracle
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 3, May-June 2001, p. 91
For a thousand nights I wished that one day I would wake up next to a baby - my baby. After years of thinking about having a child, I decided to start donor inseminations in the fall of 1997. I was 33 and single and did not want to wait any longer to fulfill my dream of motherhood. I thought I would easily get pregnant within a couple of months, and when that did not occur after six cycles, I underwent exploratory surgery. It turned out to be the first of six surgeries that it took to bring my child into this world. My miracle baby, Daniel, was conceived in my third cycle of in-vitro fertilization, after two years of non-stop fertility treatments, at a time when I had almost given up. Daniel was delivered after 37 weeks of a high-risk pregnancy via a scheduled cesarean birth.
Of course, I wanted to nurse my baby as soon as possible, but he was very difficult to wake during the first few days, had great difficulties latching on, and had low blood sugar. I tried very hard to give him the colostrum I had, but he kept pushing my nipple away with his tongue. I tried to nurse him every two hours. It took 45 minutes just to wake him up, and another 45 minutes to attempt to feed him, which left me 15 minutes to sleep before the start of the next feeding. This was our schedule around the clock for the first few days. It was physically and emotionally very exhausting. I would have given my life for my newborn son, and he did not even seem to want my milk.
A lactation consultant found me silently weeping and showed me the long list of people who needed her help. I was not the only one; I just had to accept that this was one other thing that was not coming to me easily. Fortunately, fertility treatments had taught me to persist, and after five weeks of hurting nipples, we learned to latch on correctly with the help of our La Leche League Leader.
My son is now five months old and the early struggles are but a faint memory. Breastfeeding is so natural for us now that I could not imagine it any other way. I am so glad I did not give up. After feeling that my body had failed during the fertility struggles, breastfeeding has helped me heal from my sense of and inferiority, physical dysfunction and from the artificiality of the process of Daniel's conception. My body feels powerful now, the source of nutrition and comfort for the most precious being in the world.
The fact that breastfeeding was a struggle for us initially is an advantage now. For example, having had to work so hard for a nursing relationship, I don't have qualms about nursing in public. I have nursed during business dinners and in the entrance of a big discount store. Why hide an accomplishment? And why worry about anyone else when my baby is hungry?
When people see me with Daniel, often the first thing they ask is if he is sleeping through the night. I look at them with surprise. I love waking up next to Daniel, no matter what time it is, for there were a thousand nights in my life when I would have given anything to wake up to the sounds of a baby. And that was when I didn't even know how beautiful it is to be able to turn toward his searching little mouth, hold my nipple to it and say, "It's okay, Mama is here."