I think I may have just missed the window for Breastfeeding Awareness week [blame the mommy brain] but I want to share this post with you anyway. As many of you know, I breastfed Sophie for 18 months, until I got pregnant with Cora. For some reason, nursing wasn’t that beautiful, bonding experience for me, but I knew it was what was best for my child’s health and so I stuck with it. Then comes Cora… Just when I thought I couldn’t dislike nursing more than I already did, I have a baby who doesn’t like it. Seconds after giving birth, I was able to nurse her and she latched on right away. All the nurses were so proud of us for the next few days, cheering me on in my nursing ability with my baby, cheering on Cora for having a good latch. Once we got home though, Cora would thrash her head, begin to fuss if the milk didn’t let down immediately, and overall made breastfeeding a very unpleasant experience for everyone. Fast forward to her being 3 months old and I become sick and have to be in the hospital for several days. Due to circumstances beyond my control, they don’t let me see or feed Cora for the first few days, and then once I finally do get to feed her, our nursing relationship is completely obliterated by nipple confusion and a low supply of milk.
It was so hard for me to surrender my nursing relationship with Cora. My readers may remember me posting often about how we had a hard time bonding in the beginning, and it felt like this obstacle further separated us. The truth is, she was happier to have the ease of a bottle, and I was happy not to have to wrestle her at feedings any more. What I am thankful for is this: we tried. We desperately tried to breastfeed for almost 4 months. I run into people in my town with 1-4 day old babies who are bottle fed, and these mothers freely admit that they just didn’t want to be inconvenienced by breastfeeding. I get it, I totally do. After being hospitalized, I didn’t want to be inconvenience by a lactation consultant working for weeks to correct my daughter’s nipple confusion. I didn’t want to take supplements and be a slave to my pump just trying to boost my supply. But I do think it is worth it for all women to try. [Disclaimer: I get that some times there are outside factors some women cannot control, that prevent them from breastfeed. This is not a message for you, mamas.]
It seems unfair that we have to suffer 9 months of pregnancy, suffer through labor, and then suffer indefinitely until we learn how to nurse our babies [hello, cracked nipples!] and that is why I LOVE this image of Mary. It is called “Our Lady of Le Leche” and she is a beautiful reminder of what a gift it is to breastfeed. God endowed only women with the ability to nourish their children like this. Jesus Christ himself depended on Mary to feed and care for him with her body. I wish it was some thing I had learned about sooner, but now that I have discovered this beautiful image I wanted to share it with you all for Breastfeeding Awareness week. If you just google this title of Mary, you will find lots of prayers and meditations on Jesus’ and Mary’s relationship, motherhood, and more specifically how to nurse! I highly recommend it for any Christian mommy.
To all the mommy’s like myself, who couldn’t keep up with breastfeeding, don’t beat yourself up! You gave your child a beautiful gift for as long as you possibly could manage. And to all the nursing mamas out there, we salute you! It is so typical of our society to surrender what is best for a child in the name of convenience. I get that nursing isn’t easy, but you are doing a wonderful thing for your baby and we applaud you for it.
Happy Breastfeeding, mamas!