Wordless Wednesday has words today because August is one of my favorite "activist" months; August is Breastfeeding month!! (a subject near and dear to my heart and not just literally!)
I don't think I've ever shared my entire breastfeeding story on my blog so here we go (and I'm cross posting over at the new blog I'm a writer for as well which you can find here)
Gabriel was born three weeks early so he could have surgery on his back; the odds were stacked against us for breastfeeding from day one. I wasn't allowed to see Gabriel until after his surgery and couldn't hold him for eight days. Obviously, if I couldn't hold him there was no way I was going to be able to nurse him. I pumped round the clock for the first eight days so that I could be sure he was getting as much of my breast milk as possible. We tried and tried...and tried and tried and tried some more to nurse once he came home. We made it to about six weeks and then had to start on formula. Even though I knew it wasn't something I could control, not nursing Gabriel is one of my major regrets when it comes to his first year. I vowed then that if I had another child, I would not only nurse successfully, but I'd do it at least a year.
A few years later Miss Bits came along. The odds, again, were stacked against us. I had a repeat c-section (strike one) along with a tubal (strike two) and I had a rather large benign tumor removed from one breast a year before having her (strike three) She was jaundiced (strike four) my nipples were cracked and bleeding (strike five) and she began to lose weight (strike six) This was all within the first three days of her life, I felt like the universe was trying to tell me something...but it didn't work. I persevered and made it over those bumps. I pumped round the clock after nursing to be make sure she was getting what she needed. I cried on the phone to my gf Kelly who was my biggest cheerleader (other than Geo) I cried to my mom, I cried in the shower all the while vowing I'd do right by SarahAnne.
And a funny thing happened...even though my milk supply on the side where I had the tumor removed was virtually non existent and I was sore and exhausted, Bits began to gain weight and lots of it. In her first month alone she gained FIVE pounds on nothing but momma's milk. By six weeks we BOTH knew what we were doing and there was no stopping us. Growth spurts? No problem. Teething? No problem. Nursing strike? No problem. Sixty two thousand different allergies and a strict diet for momma? No problem. One year came and went and I wasn't ready to be done yet and neither was Bits. Eighteen months came and went without any visible end in sight either, but by 22 months we were both ready to be done. Our weaning was completely child led and bittersweet for me. She gradually stopped nursing and one day patted my breasts and said "Empty momma, no more nurse Bits" and that was that. I had set out to nurse her a year and went above and beyond that. I worked full time off and on throughout the time she nursed, I had emergency surgery (during a blizzard no less!) and nursed the whole time. I had a disabled toddler, a husband to take care of and a house to keep clean...and nursed the whole time.
I'm incredibly proud of my accomplishment; I often have to remind myself that other women simply do not have the same drive and determination I do when it comes to nursing, though it still makes me sad when I still hear the same tired excuses over and over. Women need to be more supportive of one another and teach one another not only HOW to nurse, but how to stick with it. Back in days of "old" (ha ha) formula wasn't an option; you either nursed or your child died-plain and simple. There was no "oh my milk didn't come in" or "it's too hard, so I gave up" it was nurse or die and women nursed. As medicine "advanced" and formula came on the market, we forgot how to nurse; it used to be that mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts were there when you gave birth to get you off to a good start nursing. You'd be able to go to your neighbors house and get advice on nursing and in turn, as you became more experienced, you'd be able to give advice too. Formula came on the scene and women turned to it first because it was "better" than breast milk...as a result we have whole generations of women who never nursed and in turn had daughters, nieces, and grand daughters who didn't nurse.
Thankfully that's changing; nursing is coming "en vogue" (gag me) again and more and more women are at least TRYING nursing. As I always tell the women I help with nursing "Any milk is better than none, let's see if we can get you through the day...week...two weeks, etc" If a woman can get to six weeks they can usually go as long as they'd like. It's just a matter of getting to that point and having the proper support to do so. Education and support can and DO make all the difference for a woman who is attempting to nurse.
And now for the wordless part; this is one of my favorite pictures of Bits and I. We were at the zoo when she was about 10 months old. It was a gorgeous day and she got hungry, so we sat down and she had a bite to eat and a picture was snapped of us.