This year, August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, celebrated in over 170 countries world-wide. What a way to kick off my birthday month! :)
For the past few days, I've been debating what to write about for World Breastfeeding Week. If it weren't for school, a new job, and starting the process of moving (gee, I should probably be documenting some of those exciting events some time soon, eh?) I would love to fill this week with informative posts based on my experience with and knowledge about breastfeeding.
I could write about some of the products that made breastfeeding easier (like the Pumpease hands-free pumping bra or Bravado Nursing Tanks or Earth Mama Natural Nipple Butter). I could write about the evolution of the nursing relationship, from newborn to toddler. I could write about some of the non-baby-feeding uses for breast milk I've discovered (from healing cuts and scrapes, to treating eye irritations and pink eye, to soothing a new tattoo). I could revisit a number of breastfeeding topics that I've touched on previously, like breastfeeding dolls, my desire to let you self-wean, or all of the support we've had for our nursing relationship.
I certainly have no shortage of topics to choose from, nor do I have a shortage of words to say in glowing support of breastfeeding, nor a shortage of nursing photos to share. If time allows, I will touch on a number of those topics throughout the week, but when I think about what I most want to share with you, in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, it is how healing our nursing relationship has been, and continues to be, for me.
After you came into the world by cesarean birth, rather than the un-medicated water birth I'd been planning for, it was difficult to ignore that tiny but nagging little voice that told me I was broken. Even though there was nothing I had done that caused you to be breech, or that caused the other complications at the end of my pregnancy, and even though I had done everything in my power to encourage you to turn, I couldn't help but feel that my body had, in some way, failed to do its job of bringing you into the world gently and naturally.
I worked through those feelings by focusing on being successful at breastfeeding. I was determined and committed, and I had all of the support, encouragement, and resources a new nursing mom could ask for. You latched right on the first time I put you to the breast, and despite some minor bumps in the road while we both learned how nursing works, breastfeeding came relatively easy to both of us.
All of that time spent nursing in your first few months of life created an impenetrable bond between us. I remember, when we were still in the hospital, feeling unsure whether we were bonding properly, or whether the surgical birth was impairing or delaying that process. I remember the rush of love I felt every time I nursed you, and how it melted those worries away. I remember the first time you signed for milk and the first time you smiled and said "Yummm!" while nursing. Nearly 21 months in, our nursing relationship continues to heal me. My favorite nursing session each day is the one first thing in the morning. We snuggle in bed together, drifting in and out of sleep, and you nurse on one breast while gently patting the other and stopping every so often to affectionately say "Boobah" with a smile.
Breastfeeding has restored my faith in my body. Breastfeeding has reassured me that I am not a failure. A body that can make milk that both nourishes and comforts a baby is not broken at all.