Thursday, June 24, 2010


Grief, hard stuff, loss. It's an inescapable part of life. Sad things happen.

But I think it's even more sad when it's some thing that happened because of misinformation and bad advice.

This post on dr. mama made me happy and sad. It's so true. My Grandmother nursed my Mother for 3 months and then stopped because her doctor told her the milk went bad. She had 5 more children and I don't think she nursed any of them more than a few weeks.

I wish I could say what breastfeeding has meant to me. It has taught me more about myself than I knew any thing could. I remember feeling such failure after my first was born. I had dreamed of an intervention free birth. I had looked forwards to months of the first moments after she arrived, holding her near me feeling her. I remember saying to my MW that if at all possible I didn't want my baby away for me for any thing at the hospital. I wanted be there for all her first moments. Instead I was laying on a table unable to see her until she had been put through a conveyor belt of clamping, suction, stamping, rubbing, wrapping and she was brought over me. This little cocoon with a squinchy face. I couldn't even touch her because my hands were tied down. I wanted to say "I'm sorry, I would be with you if I could. I want to hold you to my heart and make you feel safe."

First time to see my baby.

That was a moment that I'll never get back. Where was I going with this? Oh yes, breastfeeding.

I remember our first feeding. I was very curious to know what it would feel like. I had to nurse her pretty much flat on my back because of the surgery. I remember the recovery nurse coming over and telling me to keep my arm straight because it was messing up my blood pressure reading. I just wanted to be in a bubble, for the world to go away so I could meet this baby. I don't know if I've ever said this, but I did kinda feel like I needed to soak her up: I was scared I didn't know she was mine. The fact that she had my forehead, and looked kinda like my older brothers newborn pictures helped. Also that she had my husbands funny toes and skinny feet She WAS mine.

Our first evening together...

I've mentioned it before: our first year was so rough. I think now 2.5 years in I'm really feeling some real healing from the experience. I mean I'm talking about it, that's big! I can honestly say, breastfeeding saved my relationship with my daughter. It wasn't just this extra perk that I could feel good about. It was our bond. It was our bridge to relationship in so many other ways. It taught me how to be her Mother. What putting some one else first really meant. What being a servant is. What laying down your life is. I remember all the tears of frustration and anger I cried when we were having latch, over active let down, over supply and major illness issues(on my part ending in a week long hospitalization. long story).

I remember patting my bleeding nipples with breastmilk crying and wanting to give up. But I remember thinking, breastmilk is for life. My body wouldn't let me birth the way I wanted to. But that was just one day, we just missed one day. An important day, but it was ONE. But breastmilk is for life, it's a commitment. I could give her milk. I could do this.

And I did.

Riley enjoying a picnic lunch at the park 6mos old.

I wouldn't be the mother I am, the person I am if it weren't for breastmilk. For fighting for my right to nurse my baby. I wouldn't have learned the lessons or grown as a person if it weren't for those challenging hours. I'm so thankful for my Mom's advice to "give it at least 6 weeks, and even then don't give up!". For LLL and kellymom . For all the Mother's who've mentored me near and far (what did we do before online communities?). For every word of encouragement and helpful idea. For my Husband who has spent WEEKS of his life walking screaming babies so I could take a break.

Riley nursed until she was almost 19mos old. Her weaning was low key, some times almost as painful as our early weeks. She weaned 2 weeks before her little sister joined our family. Our nursing relationship didn't go how I though it would. She hasn't nursed in almost a year, and I'm so thankful for how our relationship has grown out of what started with nursing. I guess I'm on this line of though because the one year anniversary of her weaning is coming up. I'm not sure what the date is, there were several "lasts" (or what I thought would be) and I honestly don't remember our last time nursing. I'm so thankful for how things worked out...I think now that I'm further away from it I can see what a blessing it all was. Having one ending and one start so close together has left me no time to process.

(I won't even go into my VBAC story and all that I learned there. Another post perhaps...I'm really processing a lot of all that, I can't believe it's almost been a year!)

I'm thankful for breastfeeding. I'm thankful for the redeeming grace of getting to nurse my firstborn. I wonder who I would be, as a mother and how I would be different if I had been given the bad advice my grandmother received...I really don't know. It all comes together, it all happened for a reason. Even as traumatic as her birth was, as sad as I feel about the stolen moments, I'm thankful. Because of what I've learned.

There is still a lot of grief about my first birth experience. I will forever live with this ugly massive scar across my lower abdomen. A scar that no matter how much weight I lose or how hard I work out, will forever pull and change the shape of my stomach (we're starting to think the surgeon botched it or some thing I have these random holes in my scar, like where skin healed at different levels...maybe I'll get brave enough to post pics some day). I also have scars on my nipples from the hard first few weeks, she literally gnawed holes in me. But the scars are reminders of where I've been and who I've become...And I hope will help other first-time Mom's I come across in the future.

Grief isn't pointless. Dissappointment is always going to come around. It's what you learn from it and take with you that really matters in the end. I'm so thankful that in all of this I learned some good lessons. And I hope in the outlets I've been given (ICAN, this blog, the young Mom's I come into contact with- who I try to be vocal yet in a gentle "listen to your instincts" kind of way): I'm passing it on!

What I've learned? Ask for help! Find your voice and use it! Give...And give some more! And be blessed, because even in the ugly disappointing things there is SO much joy!

And two little somebodies are starting to call...Nap time is over, and so is this post!


  1. I can SO relate to this...except I didn't get that chance with Max :( I mourned and got ANGRY that doctors are so ignorant about breastfeeding that they couldn't find me a safe medication to take.

    It wasn't until I began nursing Miriam that I finally forgave myself. Mothering Miriam at the breast taught me how to mother Max, and he and I are closer than ever because of it.

  2. Kristin- I remember how hard it was for you with Max. Hugs. I guess the only consolation (for me) is that I did the bests I could in the moment and learned a lot of great lessons. And I'm passionate about seeing other Mamas avoid that same pain if possible (ICAN yay!).


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