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Monday, August 07, 2006

Breastfeeding

I am starting to notice the stares. The "everyone is watching you feeling." Now that Keenan is over a year, the general consensus is that I should wean him. That he is too old to nurse, that it's just disgusting. I get it from a lot of people, close to my heart and those who are not.
The funny thing is that children are not weaned from the breast in 3rd world countries until they are closer to their 5th birthdays. Gross you may say. But normal to them. Most children do wean themselves from the breast earlier than that, around two, when they are too busy to come to mama for a snuggle and a nurse.
I was like that once; I naively believed that baby's are the only ones who should nurse, and that once they reached a certain age, walking, talking, and actively going for the breast, that it was in fact too long for them to be nursing in the first place.
And then, my views changed. I had a son. He is part of me and nursing is bonding for us. I had so many issues with nursing in the beginning. Hours of spilt tears and why can't I's, it looks so easy's, and I'm a failure's. But I persevered. I gave him supplements, I pumped, I took medications and herbal remedies that caused fevers, I did everything that it took in order to nurse with my son.
His latch was wrong. I didn't know, lack of understanding and education is what led me down that road. I had childbirth classes and my mother had breastfed every one of her children, but I thought, "How hard can it be?" and ignored everything I was being taught.
My nipples bled, nursing felt worse than labour. They told me, a little pain is normal. I just thought I was a wuss. When I finally found out it was a bad latch Keenan was 6 weeks old and my supply was in jeopardy. So we did everything possible to try and fix it and continue with nursing.
By 6 months he was on solids, and nursing slowed down. With all the pressure lifted, I gained a healthy supply. And I have a boy who loves to nurse. Not for nourishment per se, but for comfort and for compassion and for love.
I don't write this to say to the bottle feeders of the world that what they are doing is wrong, or that they aren’t as bonded, or don't love their children as much as I do mine. On the contrary, I have been there. I have given him formula, I cried so hard, afraid that he would never nurse again, and the overwhelming sense of failure. The people around me kept saying that it was no big deal, that he would thrive and that we would bond in other ways. And that is all true, but all I wanted was to nurse.
Now, because I have overcome all my nursing struggles and we have a healthy and happy nursing relationship, I feel angry when people pressure me to wean or to feel as if I am doing something wrong.
Don't look at me if it grosses you out. Don't look at me if you think he is too old. Don't look at me if you think I should cover myself up. But, most of all; Keep your comments to yourself.
I have worked too hard and too long to have someone make my son feel as though what he is doing is wrong.
He loves his mama, and his mama loves him and this is how we communicate our love for one another. It is how we check in at the beginning and end of the day. It is how we relax before a nap and after a bath.
It is a sacrifice and a gift that I give to my son everyday. Because I am his mom.

Check out the link below to see other mama's participating in this gift.
http://celebritybabies.typepad.com/photos/breastfeeding/index.html?

1 comments:

Jamie said...

That's funny (ironic funny, not hilarious funny) that you feel judged for breastfeeding for a long time while I feel judged for not breastfeeding for a long time. I say good for you for working so hard to give your son what he needs. I think it's important for all of us not to judge one another no matter what course they choose to take. What works for one person may not work for another and we're all just trying to be the best mother we can be. Good luck in your efforts!

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