My good friend Kristine shared this very private memo with a few of us friends on Facebook. I asked her permission to share it on my mommy blog, and luckily she said YES. I wanted to keep it forever in a very safe internet space that I could access the moment I need encouragement after I birth my baby girl and begin nursing. I hope you like it as much as I did. Here goes her story:
My son, Matthew, is now 3.5 months old. From birth til now, I have had my ups and downs with nursing as most likely every new breastfeeding mother has had. But the progression is motivating and maybe you might find inspiration from my story.
First, a little history: after birth, there was an intense amount of anxiety that I carried over from last stage pregnancy so my body was feeling major tension. Ever since before I left work for maternity leave on January 18, I had been getting more regular contractions.
I was determined to be as healthy as I could for myself and the baby: I made sure I was walking regularly, I was organizing home conditions, I was eating healthy fats for the final brain development stages in utero, I was focusing on making that space to meditate my anxiety away….and STILL I was so tense from nervous apprehension (labor/delivery, new baby, etc.) that with those more frequent, strong contractions coming I was holding him in potentially longer than necessary.
I ended up delivery 12 days post due date. I had a 40 hour labor….35 of which I was home laboring with plans of a natural-environment, intimate, water birth with a hired midwife. It began on February 18th at 6 PM with intense contractions fluctuating between 5-15 min apart the ENTIRE night and throwing up anything in my system; needless to say, I was sleepless and exhausted already. It continued throughout the 19th, with no nourishment as I couldn’t keep food down…until finally my midwife broke my amniotic sac at 4 AM on the 20th only to realize that my baby was under so much distress that it caused him to release enough fetal poop to sponge up just about all the fluid! Therefore causing no potential of contracting enough pressure to break waters naturally anymore.
Not only that, but since babies start practice eating and breathing amniotic fluid as a fetus, there was a high chance there could be poop in his lungs. I was rushed to the hospital with just about NO energy left and in crucial pain and discomfort, hooked up to every gadget you can think of, was given an epidural (which I am so thankful for because without it I would DEFINITELY have had a C-section which would have been my GREATEST nightmare), and then given hospital protocol that I had prior-to learned of and asked to be without if possible (interventions such as vacuum-assist, etc) in which my HIRED MIDWIFE was not present for guidance while in the hospital…SO MUCH FOR INTIMATE.
All this is not to say “poor me.” Rather I feel like I am the luckiest person alive to have a healthy and prosperous son who made it through all these major obstacles during his entrance into Earth’s atmosphere. So what does all this have to do with nursing? Well, knowing what I was going through can make it easier to understand why I may have had more difficulty at the beginning than I am now.
The tension took over 3 months to wear down enough to not feel like I’m going crazy anymore. Besides the reality of the situation: birth recovery, breast soreness and sensitivity, constant unclean feelings because of leaking and continual feeding episodes (honestly, shower = therapy…2 in a day was HEAVEN), back alignment distortion causing pain and more tension, self-less patience required to nurse another and totally-dependent human as well as yourself (no wonder it’s beneficial to live around family to help).
As time goes by, I realize that all those discouraged feelings I had been experiencing are going away as the stress gets worked out.
Finally, now Matthew and I use feedings as our time to offer ourselves space in our day, journey, life to settle in peace. There is nothing more important to be doing than focusing on “here and now.” We allow our senses to find total awareness of the changes in and outside of our body and we find joy in our connection. Even with all that initial discomfort, to look at my baby and know that I am his source of nutrition gave me encouragement to continue practicing breastfeeding.
Feeling connected with the life I have created has been the most beautiful feeling…thanks to nursing. His stillness, his physical appreciation, his sweet disposition as his eyes make contact with my own or simple when they shut with trust, how calming it is for his and my nerves, how he grabs my hand genuinely….for the first time in my life, I truly understand what it is to feel unconditionally loved by another human being. And therefore, I am able to love unconditionally back…and recognize when I am not loving unconditionally to others who deserve that from me. Of course, I’m not perfect (nor do I ever expect myself to be), but making the conscious decision to learn, adapt, and evolve for the better has been a priority. I suppose that’s called maturing. And the only one who benefits from it is EVERYONE.