By Candy Wasser
Ottawa KS USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 6, November-December 2005, pp. 257-258
In early April 2004, my family learned that our eldest child, 21-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Christopher Brandon Wasser, was killed in Iraq from the detonation of an improvised explosive device. The journey since that time has been both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and nonetheless inspiring in our look back at his life. For me, his inept but sincere mother, that especially includes the treasured moments of his infancy as we struggled to become a breastfeeding couple in those challenging newborn weeks.
How grateful I am that my husband, Scott, stood by me as I refused his concerned offer to open the bottles of hospital-gifted formula that seemed to taunt us as the solution to our problems. I'm also grateful for my mother, who called a local La Leche League Leader, Brenda, and drove me to her home for hands-on help. She also purchased THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING for me.
My heart melts for my son, who survived my bleeding nipples and a persistent diaper rash -- the only evidence of a yeast infection from the antibiotic I took after birth. I think about my anxious nursing schedules; my desire to continue "rewarding" part-time work outside the home; a one-time-only 45-minute cry-it-out session; nights on the sofa in our attempt to avoid the family bed; and philosophical de-bates with myself on the merits of nursing beyond the anticipated 12 months.
I feel gratitude, especially for my precious firstborn son. He precociously weaned himself at 14 months, looking up at me with his signature, matter-of-fact grin. As we sat down for a routine cuddle and nursing session that didn't happen, there was no gradual transition, no complication, and no indication that this day was any different than others in the tumultuous life of a toddler. How could I regret his growing up and moving on?
Over the next 10 years, I nursed our fraternal twins, Nicholas and Katie, and youngest child, Emily. I had a lot more confidence than I had when Christopher was a baby. Emily knew nothing but a family bed, baby carriers that took her everywhere I ventured, and an older brother who insisted that she, at one week old, should be his first- grade "show and tell" presentation. "She was born at home and eats Mama's milk," was the decisive answer to bewildered queries from his classmates.
Beyond nursing my babies, LLL philosophy became a foundation for my parenting and LLL meetings became the example for participation in other organizations. Who knows what my son observed and carried forth in his own life as he chose to dedicate himself to military service. Despite my early fears, Chris seemed to learn how to sleep and maintain himself under many challenging conditions.
There are, of course, things I would change in my mothering. I wish I could've been wiser, smarter, braver, more serene, and more confident. Only time and experience with children added wisdom. The hopes and dreams for my son's future have been dashed on the rocky shores of life on earth. However, the aging wine of motherhood is sweet and full-bodied; not bitter from regret.
My sorrow is for the grandbabies I'll not know, gazing into the loving eyes of their would-be breastfeeding mother. I hope now for spouses and babies for my living children. Faithfully, I learn to wait patiently in expectation. My joy is that all will be as it is meant to be in this winsome world. I will have no regrets.