Friday, August 5, 2011

happy world breastfeeding week

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I want to share my story of nursing, as I have done nothing in life that I found to be more rewarding.

When Sonia was born I didn't have a single bottle in my house. I didn't have any back-up formula. I was well prepared - I had read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and The Breastfeeding Book. I knew that it was going to be difficult, but I was determined to make it work.

Sonia was born after a quick and unmedicated birth. Less than an hour after her birth she was nursing. We discovered those first days that she was tongue-tied. While her tongue wasn’t bad enough to require intervention (she was gaining proper weight), it made it difficult for her to latch on appropriately. This left me in severe pain, which lasted six full weeks. I remember bracing myself for pain each time I nursed. Like every newborn, Sonia nursed 12+ times a day, which meant that I spent a lot of time enduring a significant amount of pain (and the rest of the time walking around awkwardly topless, completely not hot, especially in the days and weeks following a birth). I never once considered stopping. I kept reading over and over that nursing shouldn’t hurt, but it hurt like hell for me. After six weeks, the pain receded and we went on to nurse, without issue, for over a year.

When Mila was born almost four years later, I was prepared for the initial pain of nursing and I was pleasantly surprised when the pain never came. Mila took to nursing with no issue at all. Now that I’m back to work, my commitment to nursing is tested again. I’m in uncharted territory, as three-times-a-day pumping is completely new to me. However, my commitment to pumping is as strong as my will to nurse. I’ll do what I need to do to make sure Mila gets my milk, even in my absence.

I am surrounded by a community of women who nurse, many despite significant obstacles. I am blessed in that my mother nursed all three of her children, and even nursed me for two years. She always told me how important nursing was. She also gave me the best advice of all, which was to never say that I was going to try to nurse, but instead to say, with confidence, that I was going to nurse.

I am also blessed to be able to pump at work with relative ease. I have an office door I can simply close every three hours. I work with a team who are respectful of my commitment to nurse. I have a coworker who is currently on the same three-times-a-day schedule. I am lucky to have the financial ability to purchase the best (and most expensive) pump to allow me to pump efficiently (not one cent of which was paid for by my health insurance provider – HealthPartners – who will be receiving a letter from me about the financial benefit of enabling working mothers to continue breastfeeding).

Breastfeeding is a huge commitment. But it is the most enjoyable thing I’ve done in my life. My connection to my daughters is that much stronger knowing I’ve spent countless hours nourishing them. There is nothing on earth that could compare to the moments we share, looking at one another and simply being.

I am a nursing mom. My journey has not been easy, but it has been full of reward. I am proud to have given both my girls the absolute best start to their lives and do not regret one second that I spent (and spend) nursing (and pumping) my girls.


Jess said...

Great post jess... Thanks for the awesome words and those girls are so lucky to have such a committed mama! Cheers to you!

Mama & Papa Riedel said...

Jess - I love this post. Beautifully put. (Sara)