Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Continuum of motherhood

None of my kids have ever had formula. They nursed until they were old enough for whole milk, then they went to sippy cups. We're still on that trajectory, and as I went to my very first La Leche League meeting this morning, I see it continuing.

When Lou was born, the lactation consultant happened to be in the room when I said none of my kids have ever had formula. "What would you tell a new mother?" she asked. "What wisdom after three would you give?"

I've had four months to mull it. Here it is.

It's a commitment, but it's on a continuum. The baby is still completely dependent on you just like he was before birth. Women give up their own medications, quit smoking, quit drinking, et cetera when they have a bun in the oven. A mom to be can't just trot out for a night of drinking and dancing, regardless of how cute maternity clothes are nowadays. The baby goes with you to that smoky, loud bar. You can't take the baby "off" to do it, either. That baby is always with you. What you eat, the baby eats.

Breastfeeding is just a continuation of that, except now you have diapers to prove it. It's just a continuation of their dependence on you, you nourishing them.

You see, I've realized that you never stop being a mother. You never stop worrying that they're getting enough rest, or spending time with the right people. Are they getting enough attention, enough love? Are they eating enough of the right things and not too much of the wrong?
I believe in my heart that my mother still worries about that for her own and we're all north of 35. I know I still need her. Yesterday, for example, at our niece's birthday party, she served as a sentient port-a-crib for Lou while Daddy and I searched at various times for various other children.

Breastfeeding is just the next phase after pregnancy; it's not in addition to. You make the commitment before they're born to see to their welfare. It doesn't end at their birth, school age, or voting age. It plain doesn't end.



At 2:40 PM, Blogger HISchild said...

Well said! Couldn't agree more!

Kinda miss that stage. But not enough to trade what I have now.


At 10:11 AM, Blogger Terry said...

Seeing my wife unable to breastfeed was the single most heart wrenching thing I've ever witnessed. She was absolutely devastated and I learned firsthand why the little blue pill is so important to some men and their identities.

I've never done the math to try and estimate what we've spent on the powder that I was sure had to have gold dust in it. On top of diapers, I'm sure we've already put her through a year of college. The idea that some parents would choose it out of "convenience" boggles my mind, since the natural way the Lord intended is so beautiful.

Continuum is a great word. Somebody asked me recently if I was less anxious about my wife's present pregnancy (after two miscarriages and an ectopic) since we have one now. I laughed.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Melanie B said...

Well said, indeed.

All my sister-in-law have nursed but also give their babies formula. I'm the odd one out because I'm only breastfeeding. They don't get it and with Bella I did feel some pressure to just give her a bottle. There are so many pressures on young mothers you have to be really convicted that breastfeeding is best in order to withstand them. But I'm so glad I did.

At 7:52 PM, Blogger Catherine said...

Lovely. I'm so glad I never had to spend any money on formula. Those to whom we owe money should also be extremely grateful.

I really don't get the pressure on moms to formula-feed. My MIL occasionally hinted that it would be nice for "someone else" to get to bond with the baby through feeding. I encouraged her to change as many diapers as she desired :). It's a good thing she has a sense of humor. Additionally, I don't think I would see my child for hours on end during family gatherings if I didn't nurse. During so many of them, my husband's relatives (his father is one of 10, so there are many of them) only returned my baby to me because she was hungry!

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right, Heather. I think some of the well-intended external pressures to bottle-feed are actually a silent acknowledgement of the "continuum"-- you've just gestated a child for nine months. Why would you want to continue that? Perhaps reflective of their own desires to get out and away... Who knows.

Better education in the medical community would go a long way, too. A lot of peds are still happy to suggest formula the first time any nursing glitch arises, rather than trying to help mom problem-solve. My personal worst experience was nursing #2 in the hospital a few hours after delivery. Shift changed, and a new nurse walked in and proceeded to give me her nursing lecture-- while you are nursing, NO chocolate, NO diet beverages, NO caffeine and NO alcohol. Since my usual post-delivery celebration is a Diet Coke and See's chocolate, I'd already broken all her "rules" except the booze! :-) Luckily I knew better, or I'd have given up then and there.



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