The other morning when I was in the er, the nurse was scrolling through my chart and said "oh I see you are nursing, ok, we'll be sure to keep the meds we give you nursing safe" as she looked at the kids, sort of perplexed as to which one I might be nursing. I quickly corrected her and said "oh no, I'm not nursing, I haven't for the last year" My sympathetic nurse said "oh, that's okay honey, not everyone can nurse" I suppressed a smile and said non nonchalantly "I was only able to nurse for 21 and a half months" Shocked, the nurse turned around and said "What?! That's amazing, most women don't get to TWO months let alone 21 months, you should be really proud of yourself"
And the truth is...I am proud of myself and my body. After nearly three years of beating myself up because I felt my body had doubly betrayed me with Gabriel (spina bifida AND not being able to nurse after 6 weeks!) I was in the mindset that I would do whatever it took to nurse until Bitsy was a year old, anything after that was a bonus. We had a lot of challenges, to say the least, but once we both got the hang of it, we were golden. We were the nursing dream team (lol) We could (and did) nurse anywhere anytime. Could you would you in the car? Yes. Could you would you with a fox? Yes. Could you would you in a box? Yes. Could you would you anywhere baby pleases? You betcha.
There were two things that made nursing Bitsy happen: A great support system and educating myself.
I went to LLL meetings, I talked with other nursing mommas, I became a community member of more than one breastfeeding group online. I had an excellent support around me; our families were very supportive of nursing and encouraged me when the times were rough.
I read books about nursing; the one that I especially loved was "So That's What They're For" It was humorous and informative. I read all I could about nursing. I told myself I could do it and I would do it. This time around I WOULD be successful at nursing...and I was.
Since having SarahAnne I've been able to help other women nurse-some in person, some on the phone, some on the internet. I love the accomplished feeling of helping a new momma and baby nurse. I've also helped women see that even though they tried nursing and it didn't work that they should NOT beat themselves up. After three years of beating myself up, I realized that it wasn't worth it, because as much as I enjoyed nursing and am so grateful that I was able to nurse Bits as long as I could, my method of feeding her had NOTHING to do with the kind of parent I am or was.
In 20 years, no one will care that one of my children nursed until six weeks and the other till 21 months. In fact, no one cares right now, not even me. Yes, I'm proud of my accomplishments with both of them and I am a vocal breastfeeding advocate, but I think a lot of people seem to forget that feeding the baby is just a small part of what a momma does with their child. Should a momma give nursing her all? Yes, should she strive to give her child the very best start possible? YES. Should she beat herself up if nursing doesn't work? No. Should she accept that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't and trying her damnedest to nurse is what is important? Yes.
I've found that a lot of women would rather point out other mommas shortcomings when it comes to nursing than actually do something about it. Those smug nursing women are the ones who give the rest of us a bad name. If someone is struggling to nurse, I'm happy to give help, information, and guidance. Isn't that what it's all about? Shouldn't we be helping one another?
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