Thursday, August 6, 2009
The breastfeeding battle began with Bug’s birth. I was cursed with inverted and flat nipples. It is debatable as to whether or not this is actually a trial in breastfeeding, as the baby is breastfed not nipplefed. However, it was a trial to me as I sat in the hospital bed struggling to get my newly born son to latch on and nurse. The hospital lactation consultant was obviously not interested in helping me deal with the situation correctly. She brought me breast shells and a nipple shield. My colostrum was thick, and Bug struggled to suck it through the nipple shield. Those first few nights, I cried along with Bug. I expressed colostrum onto my finger for Bug to suck off over and over again. I felt like I was broken. Oh, how we cried.
Finally, my milk came in. I dutifully slapped on that nipple shield each feeding. I struggled to keep it in place and clean. Then I dealt with the excess milk that had collected in the shield spilling all over both of us. I neglected to wear the shells that I was given. I struggled through those first few months. I continually leaked milk. I was going through breastpads galore. I felt ashamed of myself and my body as I struggled to keep covered when I was in company that demanded modesty. I felt like I had little support from those around me. And still I cried when breastfeeding was more than I believed I could handle. I suffered through three bouts of mastitis, feverish and desperate to continue being a good mom.
Miraculously, after three months, Bug decided that he would have nothing to do with the nipple shield. I gave it up, and experienced nursing skin to skin, successfully, for the first time. I was exhilarated. However, it didn’t last long enough. Bug got teeth. And I got bitten. Several times. At one point, I had an open sore on my breast that was so tender that each time Bug latched on to nurse, I felt waves of nausea roll over me. I could hardly stand nursing. Yet, I continued.
We had trial after trial. Thrush came and went. Nursing acrobats ensued. Biting, pinching, chapping. Fevers, vomiting and stuffy noses. Night after night I would contemplate weaning. But something told me that we were not ready. Bug needed to nurse. And I needed to let him.
There was something that happened each time I would sit down to nurse my child. It was peace. I would smile, even when Bug wasn’t nursing peacefully, but playfully trying to stand on his head while latched onto my nipple. I was made for this divine role of nourishing my children. I loved looking into those nursing eyes, drunk with mother’s milk, sleepy with love. I mended Bug’s boo-boo’s with my “magic mommy milk”. I gave nourishment and comfort.
Through breastfeeding, I have realized that I am a wonderful mother. I have given my child security and the trust that I will always be there for him. I will breastfeed all my children until they are ready to wean. I am still nursing Bug at fifteen months. He isn’t much older than a year, but I am still nursing strong. I still have those nights that I struggle and cry with breastfeeding. I contemplate weaning when things get difficult. But I will give him nursies until he no longer requires that special relationship with me. Even if it takes me longer than I ever dreamed of nursing before. Because I have evolved. It is my desire that all mothers receive the support they need to bless their children with their breasts. I hope that our society will one day learn the beauty of nourishing a child as intended by God. I know that breastfeeding is a magical, spiritual experience that is one of the greatest things that we mothers can do for our children. It creates love. It is selfless love.