World Breastfeeding Week

Several years ago when I first started nursing babies, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as World Breastfeeding Week, or The Great Latch On.  I didn’t know there was an International Breastfeeding Symbol (pictured in the photo below).

 I knew a few other people who nursed, on a schedule, pumping while they were at work, stopping at exactly six months. I watched my sister struggle tiredly to get her very sleepy 4 pound preemie to nurse. When I was pregnant, I asked her if I could see what it looked like when the baby latched on. My mom had nursed the three of us. This was about the extent of my knowledge.

I wasn’t prepared for breastfeeding. I wasn’t prepared to have to pump every two hours to get my milk to come in after a traumatic emergency Cesarean. I wasn’t prepared to nurse a 5 pound preemie, in the NICU, standing my ground on the “no formula” rule I held against well meaning doctors and nurses. I wasn’t prepared to be crying in the middle of the night because she needed to nurse again, and it HURT. I wasn’t prepared to battle five months of thrush. I wasn’t prepared to have her need me so desperately.  I wasn’t prepared to be my baby’s everything, her favorite thing, her only thing.

I wasn’t prepared for her to drink her fill of the most perfect liquid in the world, formulated precisely for her growing body, and fall asleep contentedly at the breast. I wasn’t prepared for the ‘baby  milk drunk’ as she would pass out, unlatch and milk would dribble out of her mouth as she would sigh happily. I wasn’t prepared for her to gaze up at me as she suckled, silently thanking me for the comfort, for the sustenance only I could provide. I wasn’t prepared for us to fall asleep together, her nestled safely in my side, smelling all those yummy-to-only-babies-armpit-pheromones. I wasn’t prepared for the depth and breadth of our breastfeeding relationship, the bonding it provided, the strength it gave to both of us.

As she grew older, I wasn’t prepared for the simplicity of it. How easy it was. How wonderful. 
I’ve since nursed four more babes, the latest one about to celebrate her first year of life. Each child has definitely presented challenges nursing, especially in the beginning, but every time it has been so very worth it. 

This is one of my favorite breastfeeding photos. Cadrian is a few months old in this picture and I’m wearing my “I make milk, What’s your superpower?” tee shirt.

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