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Sheila Quirke

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Got Milk?

Posted: 08/02/2012 11:03 am

We are smack dab in the middle of World Breastfeeding Week. I only know that because it's all over the mommy corner of the Internet I frequent. Reading about other's experiences reminds me of my own nursing days, making me feel all warm and cozy. Sigh.

I loved breastfeeding, which was kind of shocking to me, as I was one of the least maternal moms I know. Seriously. I was bargaining with my husband on my 35th birthday for a few more months before trying to make our first baby. I am what you call a late bloomer. When my second child arrived we were living in Cancerville, in that God-forsaken subdivision known as Relapse Valley, and I somehow managed to breastfeed our son, too, until my milk ran out just days after our daughter died. He was almost ten months old at the time, so I was okay with that.

Obsessing about breastfeeding was a luxury/burden I simply did not have. With my first child I was too sad, grieving my Mom who had just died. With my second, I was too terrified, just trying to make it through my days. I also grew up Catholic, so I had some issues about exposing my breasts. My point is that for me, it wasn't a political thing, my breastfeeding. It was a sweet, amazing, tender transaction between me and my kids. It was an opportunity and privilege to show my kids I love them in the most personal, intimate kind of way.

Not all moms have that opportunity. Some moms adopt their kids. Some moms have medical issues. Some moms try and try and try and try until blood pours from their nipples instead of milk. Some moms are so depressed they can't get out of bed, let alone nurse their baby. Some moms are with men that don't want them to breastfeed. Some moms return to work just weeks after their babies are born and work in places that don't take kindly to several times a day pumping breaks. Some moms are ready, willing and able, but baby has different ideas and never takes to it. Some moms just don't want to.

Is breastfeeding scientifically proven to be the best nutrition for an infant? Yep, without question. But you know what? Things don't always work out for the best. We can plan and try and struggle, but not all of us are able to breastfeed. We can judge and pontificate and feel superior, but that's not very nice. The thing is, when a new mom pulls out a bottle and formula to feed her baby, people notice. Eyebrows are raised. Just like when a new mom pulls out her breast to feed her baby. People notice, different eyebrows are raised. It sucks. No matter what a new mom does, what choice she makes or what option is thrust upon her, she is judged.

So, today, during World Breastfeeding Week, I want to hand it to the gals who feed their babes from their breasts. Lordy, that's a commitment and it's amazing. But I also want to hand it to the gals who can't or don't breastfeed. Here's to you, too. We are all trying. None of us get it right, but we keep trying.

 
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