In the last few weeks, some friends have shared with me some amazing happenings on the interwebs related to breast feeding and mamahood including a photography endeavor called The 4th Trimester Bodies Project, the websites/Facebooks groups of The Leaky Boob and The Badass Breastfeeder, and lastly, this outstanding commercial from Luvs: http://youtube.googleapis.com/v/ZgmbJso-2-o&source=uds
Seriously. If you have any interest in nursing, it will be worth your time to check out these resources. And if you’re still not convinced that breast feeding deserves a place within our society, watch this and see if she doesn’t change your mind.
Now by no means do I mean do go all Mommy Wars here and get up on some pedestal about how you should feed your baby. Just feed your baby. That’s all I ask. I don’t care if there is a fox or a box or socks involved – you do what is best for you and your bambino(s).
For me, breast feeding has always been the preferred option. I suppose some of my parenting preferences, like natural birth and nursing, came from the stories I heard from my own mom about how my brother and I were raised. Not that either of those things were pressed on me by her or anyone else; it’s just what I decided I would aim for prior to Harrison’s birth, knowing full well that I may not get my wish. Fortunately, though, I have now been able to have three natural births and have been able to nurse all three of my babies. For this, I consider myself and my family very blessed.
Now that’s not to say that breast feeding has been an easy road for us. In fact, I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why nursing is so hard, but holy moly cow, it is. In some ways, my struggles with each of my kiddos has been the same, mainly thanks to my battles each time with Thrush. Trying to learn how to nurse while teaching a newborn to eat all while enduring stinging nipples for weeks or months on end? That is not easy. Neither is dealing with all the other little oddities and problems like poor latches due to tiny mouths (I know all babies have small mouths, but my children seems to have especially miniature versions, I swear) or plugged ducts or engorgement or pumping before every feeding or cracked nipples. But I have been there/done all that and more. Of course, it was because I wanted to, or chose to at least.
Actually, if I hadn’t been so committed to nursing and had such amazing support from my hubby, I probably would have said forget it. Newborns are stressful enough without all the boob drama, so I can see why many mamas opt for formula. Actually, we had to opt for formula too, with Raegan, but not until she was 13 months old. At that point I was too sick from being preggers with LT to keep up with all the bodily demands of her plus him plus myself, and the little stinker wouldn’t drink cow’s milk (still won’t, except for from a cereal bowl), so we did an older infant formula for six months to get her through the transition of baby to table food. See, I am not kidding when I say you do what you need to do (for each of your littles because each one is bound to be different).
However, what I’ve realized about my commitment to breast feeding after looking at all of the above mentioned resources is that I made another, rather odd now that I think about it, choice. I don’t have a single picture of me breastfeeding any of my babies. I suppose I thought I was being modest by not taking any, but when I look at the images posted to those various pages mentioned above, part of me is sad not to have visual proof of all that we went through and just how far we made it as the HD & Mama and RL & Mama teams. Because the pictures I see on those sites of those mamas and their babies are beautiful. Beautiful for the bonds and connections evident between parent and child and beautiful for the sacrifice I know it takes to make those moments happen.
Had I thought to take pictures of myself nursing Harrison or Raegan, I could have done so just for us. It’s not like I would have had to post the pictures to Facebook albums or even put them in the baby books. But having them in some form, even just on our computer, would be so helpful now that I am nursing their little brother. That way, Harrison could see for himself that yes, I did feed him with milk from my tummy (the expression he used when he watched Raegan nurse as a baby) and Raegan could know that she too got lots of “Milk! Milk! Milk!” from Mama, because these days they both ask in their own ways, quite often, if I nursed them, too. So when I think back about what a big part of their babyhoods nursing was and about how nursing has shaped me as a mama, I am shocked and a little heartbroken that I don’t have those images to share and reassure them with now.
Even though I like to be an equal opportunity mama, I think I’ll make a change this time. I think I’ll make sure that we get some snapshots of Lincoln nursing so that we can all remember what this was like. And so my kids can see, even when they are way past baby stages, that this is a great and healthy, perfectly normal and natural way to feed babies. Because hopefully, someday, it will be my daughter’s turn to make this decision or my sons’ turns to support their wives and I want them to know, to see, what we chose for them. Not to force their hands but just to say this is what we did for you. And it was beautiful.