Saturday, November 23, 2013

//Adventures in Breastfeeding- Louise's Story//

I am happy to post another Mama's story!  Louise, blogger at The Little Things and Me shares her story today.  I am so happy to have her and thankful that she would share her story!  I think her experience is one that all mother's can relate to.  It's easy to focus on what we wish could have been different, instead on this wonderful and courageous role we have as a mother.  It's worthy of stopping and basking in what our body can do and in all cases, the strength we have to raise these beautiful children.  <3  (Louise's instagram is loubirdd)  

Pregnancy is a serious test of patience. For almost a year you envision this baby and their life down to the smallest details. It’s so easy to craft this story in your mind of their birth and the ways that you will (and will not) care for them.
While I was pregnant I found strength in the stories and experiences of other women. Almost weekly in prenatal yoga the teacher shared birth stories, and I loved hearing the birth and breastfeeding experiences of others. As I (slowly) pressed into downward facing dog, I would tell myself, “your birth will go just like that, breastfeeding will come easy too”. I prepared for the birth of Elsa with the idea that the more I knew, the more I could control. I read everything I could by Ina May Gaskin, and eagerly attended Birthing From Within classes. I decided I didn’t need a doula since I was so strong, so knowledgeable. After a breastfeeding class led by our midwife and a lactation consultant I was even more confident. I was so ready to meet and care for this baby according to the narrative I had written in my own head.
Just before midnight, in a dimly lit room facing the Adirondacks, our daughter was born. Almost an entire day after my water broke Elsa was delivered with the help of multiple medical interventions. While I clung to this baby that I had waited so long for, I felt defeated and disappointed—in myself, my midwife, and the expectations I had previously created. The natural birth I had prepared for didn’t happen, but within seconds this naked baby was placed on my chest, and minutes later, she had latched on. I fed Elsa hourly after that; she fit perfectly against my side and I can’t explain how proud I was to be sustaining this baby with my body.
That first night, while my husband slept, I felt myself change as this purpose—being a mother, washed over me. Trevor has helped care for Elsa since she was born, but feeding her is my role. I breastfed on demand, and came to love the way that I could always soothe her, almost instantly. I’d never before felt so important or purposeful. That first month of Elsa’s life we spent most of our time curled up together, somewhere in between breastfeeding and sleeping. Despite how in love I was with this little baby and my new role, all the reading and preparation didn’t prepare me for how difficult breastfeeding could be. We met with a lactation consultant who diagnosed Elsa with tongue-tie, and before we left she honored my determination and recognized the commitment I made to breastfeeding my baby. The confidence she had in me as a mama was exactly what I needed to hear.
Regardless of all this good, our birth experience began to weigh on me more and more. I was embarrassed that I’d had a medicated birth. I felt like I had failed, despite this beautiful, breastfed baby that was growing and thriving. During my first postpartum visit I cried while my midwife and I reflected on the birth process. I tried to brush it off as hormonal emotionalism, but it was the first time I really allowed myself to acknowledge this disappointment. And then my midwife did something so important— she told me to let it go and focus on what was in my control: caring for Elsa in the way that I had chosen. She picked up my chubby baby and said, “Look at what you are doing with your body! You are amazing, no matter how this baby got here!”
My midwife was right. Our bodies do incredible things—like sustaining a growing baby. I began to look at our relationship with breastfeeding a little differently. In the early mornings, Elsa nurses while I drink coffee, curled up in our favorite corner of the living room. It’s during this quiet time that I realize how connected I am to this baby. It doesn’t matter how she got here; I’m no less of a mother because of the way that she was born. When I talk about breastfeeding with other women, I have a hard time explaining exactly what it means to me. It’s not just about feeding Elsa. It’s about the way that I now view my strong body. It’s about that incredible purposefulness I first felt the night that she was born.

Breastfeeding has quickly become such a big piece of my identity as a woman and mother, and I keep coming back to this quote a friend shared with me just before Elsa was born, which resonates so deeply now: “Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers—strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” (Barbara Katz Rothman)

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