Hand In Hand

Hand In Hand

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why I Breastfeed

I never imagined I'd be the mom who discreetly covered up and nursed in public. I thought I'd be the formula-buying, bottle wielding mom who was prepared with filled bottles in the diaper bag, on guard and ready to go. Even at the beginning of my pregnancy, I was on the fence, really not sure if I wanted to go through the beginning learning process of breastfeeding. I chose to go with breastfeeding for two reasons-bonding and cheapness. Okay, I know, cheapness? Really? Yes, really. I'm a teacher. I'm married to a teacher. Isabella was a summer baby. Everyone knows that teachers are poor in the summer. So I weighed the cost of nursing pads and lanolin cream with the cost of formula. It's obvious which one costs less. So I chose to go with breastfeeding and prayed that I would have sufficient milk for my little princess.

The first day breastfeeding was far from joyous, I have to admit. Isabella had a lot of difficulty latching on, thanks to my morphine drip (oh the joys of c-sections). But I'm so thankful that the hospital had excellent lactation consultants hanging around. They gave me the silicone nipple shield and said that morphine makes your body tissues soft, not a good thing for getting a newborn to learn how to nurse. But that shield made all the difference in the world. It was uncomfortable. My nipples were very raw, sore, chapped. Isabella would nurse for a half hour on each side for the first two days. She would fall asleep. I never had doubts, though. I never wanted to throw in the towel in those first few days. Even when my milk came in all at once and the engorgement was painful, I never wanted to give up. Even when I was shopping for well-fitting nursing bras two weeks after giving birth and I started leaking something fierce in the dressing room, I didn't want to give up. 

There is something so intimate, so amazing, so beautiful about breastfeeding. It's an art. When you think of art, you think of something beautiful, magical, enjoyable, and peaceful. That's breastfeeding! I'm so blessed to have an ample supply. I'm so blessed to be able to provide that sort of bond for Isabella. It has really helped my little Isabella put on much needed weight, since she was in the bottom 5th percentile when she was born. Our bond is unquestionably very close. She comes to me for nourishment. She also relies on me for comfort. Yes, even at six months, she still comfort nurses and enjoys nursing to sleep. I just love those moments when I can look down and just enjoy the view of my beautiful child looking up at me. 

I will admit that pumping at work isn't the most amazing or beautiful experience in the world. In fact, it's rather ridiculous. I chose to set up my classroom with my desk in the far corner so that from the doorway, you can't see it. I lock my door, sit in the corner, and pump. That's how I spend my lunch every single day. It's not intimate. It's not amazing. But it means Isabella still has that connection to me during the day when she's at my parents' house. It's just all part of it. I hate pumping. But I do whatever it takes to provide for my little darling. After all, if I have the supply of milk, it would be a shame to not use it!

Six months into Isabella's precious life, I am still breastfeeding. I get stares, glares, and comments out in public. I hear the whispers, I get the comments of "I know what you're doing under there" as they walk past my covered up child nursing. Do I have to cover up? No. But I chose to. Some people just aren't okay with public breastfeeding and I honestly feel more modest being covered up. But I'm still going strong. It isn't about saving money by choosing the cheap feeding option anymore. It's about enjoying my Mommy moments with Isabella. It's about sharing that intimate bond with her as she relies on me for food, for comfort, for sleep (when she's cranky and just can't get to sleep). It's just one of my sources of joy with being a mother!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Woman of Strength and Courage

Ten months ago, my friend A. lost her husband J. in a horrific car accident. I know I posted on it around that time. She was pregnant and had a child turning two years old. In the past ten months, I have learned so much about life, family, love, courage, strength, and faith just from watching her, helping her, listening to her, and spending time with her. A. is a woman of unbelievable strength. Of course her strength doesn't come from her own self, it comes from the loving God we serve. But she just amazes me. In the midst of so much personal pain and grief, she still serves her family, her friends, her church. She gives where she can give, helps when she can help, and reaches out when she feels the need to serve others. I stand amazed of the courage she has to get up each day, a single mom of two children, and continue on with life. She is so brave. I know A. doesn't always think so. She mourns still, grieves still, and really misses J. He was the love of her life, her childhood sweetheart. I've never known anyone else to have the love they shared. J. was such a unique and fun person. I'm sure there were days when A. had to have a lot of patience to live with someone who would get up at 5am, wide awake, singing. But that was J. 

A. is getting by. Her oldest daughter, M. is going to be 3 years old in April. Her younger daughter, A.J., was born in early September. A. is a SAHM right now and a single mom to boot. Even with lack of sleep, she still inspires all the women, wives, and moms around her. I don't know that I would be able to be as wise, calm, patient, or strong as she is with all that she is going through. 

With all of that said, please pray for A. She has a lot of personal challenges she's being faced with right now. I know that God doesn't give us more than we can handle, but I know there are days when she feels the burdens are getting too heavy to bear. Time supposedly makes the grief a little less heavy, but losing your spouse has to be one of the hardest things life can offer. She really misses J. and her heart just aches for what he gave. So just pray for her, for her family, and for her children. God has been good in providing friends who can comfort, but we just can't understand the true mourning of her heart. 

Through all of the grief, she remains strong for her children. She greats each day with the courage to go through it and see what God would have her do. A., you are an inspiration to me. I love you very much and I'm so blessed to call you a dear friend. Thank you for all that you teach me through your actions and through your life.