Feeding my Child with Love

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about your breastfeeding mantra. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!

IMG_0263-1My breastfeeding journey began over six years ago. I was a very young mother with no idea of how to be “good” at my new role. As I struggled to find my footing I found that breastfeeding was something I was good at. We mastered our art in a couple short weeks, I had a lovely supply, and my son and I made a good team. I nursed him for three and a half years, including through my pregnancy with his sister and six months of tandem nursing. When we welcomed his sister I knew I would nurse her to a similar age, we believe in full term nursing, and found by setting boundaries as the kids aged (night weaning around 18 months and cutting the number of sessions down to morning and night around age 2.5) that everyone’s needs were met. As we began the journey of welcoming a third (and final) child to our family I was eager to tandem nurse again. It had been such a bonding experience for my son and daughter, so I told my daughter every night how the milk would be full when the baby came, and she was excited to share.

In April I found a lump in my neck – one lump that grew to two lumps, and then to three. On June 2nd I was diagnosed with Hodgekins Lymphoma cancer. As we met with doctors it was quickly decided I needed to begin chemo immediately. There is little scientific study on the effects of chemo on a developing fetus, but there are many case studies where babies were born perfectly healthy, and our minds were set at ease. It was hearing the doctor tell us – point blank – no breastfeeding, which devastated me. Cancer doesn’t make me sad, but losing the one tool I felt that made me the best mother I could be made me sad. For the first time I wept, and so did my husband.

Maternity (29 of 81)webSince having my son six years ago breastfeeding has consumed my life. I facilitate a peer-support nursing support group (Live, Love, Latch) at my local family center, I am on the board of directors of our local breastfeeding advocacy group, and I built a business (Snappy Snacks) that sells lactation snack mixes across the country. I have donated my milk to more babies than I can count, I have cross-nursed my friends’ babies, and I regularly give my phone number out to moms who need someone to call at 2am instead of giving up. I don’t know who I am without breastfeeding. I felt like cancer was stealing my identity. I could not begin to wrap my head around how to give birth to a baby and not immediately bring it to my chest.

I quickly had to decide how I was going to reach my breastfeeding goals without using a drop of my own milk. Friends immediately started pumping for me. My best friend who is due a month after me has plans to pump. But what is truly amazing is the people who have found me through social media and offered their milk to me. Even moms I barely know, who know how important breastfeeding is to me and what it meant to have it stolen, began building up freezer stashes for me. Our new breastfeeding goal is 6 months EBMF. We have done research and plan to use breastfeeding friendly bottles and try to mimic the breastfeeding relationship as much as possible. We believe it’s important to develop our son’s digestion system the way nature intended.

I have met so many women who had to fight to develop their nursing relationships – whether because of poor latch, low milk supply, or lack of support – their determination reminds me that I can’t just give up. That feeling defeated is no excuse to stop caring about how my son will be fed. That we can fight for the little things that will make a difference, like ensuring only my husband and I feed the baby, that he’s always held for a bottle, and that he isn’t put on a “schedule”. I have also met many wonderful mothers that decided not to fight to develop a nursing relationship – that the struggle and stress were clouding their ability to be the best moms that they could be – so they stopped trying to make it happen when it wasn’t. And because of their decision to stop they have become wonderful mothers with babies who are full of joy and are confident that they are loved. Their journeys remind me that not all love is poured out of breasts, that my sole worth as a mother isn’t attached to my chest.

I still struggle with who I will be without breastfeeding. I still feel like a failure. I struggle with a lot of guilt around my inability to breastfeed my soon-to-arrive son. That he will some how feel less loved without those tender moments locked to my chest, that he will somehow feel less MINE because I haven’t fed him from my body. I feel like a first time mom all over again, trying to find her footing, searching for the right tools for the job. I spend a lot of time reminding myself that this will make me well rounded and more understanding. That I will be able to draw closer to the moms I meet who are struggling, that will somehow find comradery with those moms who couldn’t do it either. I am trying to focus on the main thing; that I can still feed my child with love.

BridgetAppleBlossomFacebook-7Bridget lives in Ontario, Canada, with her two children (with one more on the way), her husband and two dogs. She has dedicated her life to supporting breastfeeding women through both her volunteer work, and her professional work. She founded Snappy Snacks in 2011, and in 2014 went national, selling Lactation Snack Mixes across Canada. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy to beat cancer.

Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

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