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Needed, Loved, and Appreciated

Lilith McQuoid
Wake Forest NC USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 21 No. 5, September-October 2004, p. 175

I am a heavily tattooed, 30-something-year-old mother who some have considered rude and obnoxious. In reality, I am honest. I don't care what people think of me. My son, Angus, and I have just entered into the fourth year of our nursing relationship and I have no problems explaining my reasoning for my parenting style, if asked. But this does not mean I am always confident in myself or in my parenting skills. Sometimes, I am far from it. But I am confident in the benefits of breastfeeding.

I use it for everything: food, comfort, illnesses, sleeping, and "boo-boos." You name it and my breast can solve my son's problem in some form. Without breastfeeding, how would I mother him?

At times, however, I have felt as though I was just a pair of breasts to my son. To make this thought worse was the idea that without them, my son would not need me. Maybe I would be thrown to the side and replaced by something or someone else.

The day before my son's third birthday, I was feeling this way. My husband and I had been arguing and I was in the bedroom crying. My son, after watching me for a few minutes, asked me for "nummies."

I felt crushed and I do not know exactly why those few innocent words hurt so badly at the time. I told him no because I needed to be comforted and not to be the comforter. Later, some of my well-meaning friends suggested that maybe since nursing comforted him, my son thought it may do the same for me. That is a sweet idea, but it was more than I could handle at the time.

What made matters worse was when I said no, he whined for a few minutes, then happily went off with his father. I sat in the room and cried, feeling even more hurt than before. Angus and his father went out to eat and to the park. On their way home, Angus fell asleep in the car. My husband carried him to his rarely used "big boy" bed without waking him. I felt alone and sad. My breasts were not as important as I thought they were. In addition, I was suffering from engorgement while my son slept soundly.

Several hours later, as I lay awake in bed contemplating my day, Angus woke up and came into my room. He did not cry or whine, but climbed on the bed and said, "Mommy, be happy." I promised that I would try. He snuggled in my arms and fell asleep.

I was afraid that my earlier refusal to nurse him would result in the end of our nursing relationship. I didn't want it to end that way. I gently woke him up and asked if he wanted "nummies." He wholeheartedly agreed and began nursing before drifting back off to sleep.

It was then that I realized that breastfeeding made me feel needed, loved, and appreciated. If my son believed that his nursing could also comfort me, well maybe he was right. As I lay there with him in my arms, stroking his fine blonde hair, it came to me that I was much more than "nummies" to him.

I have helped him learn and recognize the alphabet, count to 10 in French and English, treated his case of poison ivy, and have read nursery rhymes to him so often that he can now recite them back to me perfectly. Breastfeeding has helped me grow confident in my mothering skills and it has flowed into many other aspects of my parenting style.

He is still nursing as often as he did before that bad day, but now I know that this tender time in our lives will not last forever. Recently, he fell and scraped his knees. Instead of asking for kisses and "nummies" as he used to, he asked for kisses and an ice pop. I gave his "boo-boos" kisses and handed over an ice pop and I knew that I was more than just a pair of breasts to him.

I still cherish our many nursing sessions but, at the same time, I'm stocking up on ice pops. As he grows older and weans, I hope he knows that I will always be here for him. He may grow too big for my breast, but he can always come and lay his head on my shoulder.

Last updated Tuesday, October 24, 2006 by njb.
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