Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Breastfeeding helped me face the challenges of motherhood.

Anticipating the birth of my first baby boy, Colton, was joyous. I loved being pregnant and labor was great. I was a nurse at the hospital I worked, so there was an endless stream of visitors, happy friends and relatives. Our new baby was absolutely perfect, and we were thrilled. We were looking forward to getting to know our new addition and adjusting to parenthood together. I didn't know how soon things would change...

The day after we had Colton, my husband went home to shower and feed the dog. The phone rang in my room, it was an ER nurse I had worked with a few days before. My husband's father had a stroke and was coming in via ambulance, he was in critical condition. She needed my husband in the ER right away. My father-in-law spent the next month in ICU and was close to death several times from the massive injury to his brain. My husband spent everyday with him, helping his mother make medical descions and supporting his parents. Needless to say it was not the homecoming we had planned, but that's life.

I focused on my job of caring for our new little one. Like almost all moms, I didn't find breastfeeding easy in the beginning. Colton had a great latch at the hospital but when we got home we had some troubles. About day 2, my nipples were raw and I had to clench my teeth when he nursed, but that passed quickly, resolving within a day or two. I was so engorged my breasts were like rocks on my chest and the bags of frozen peas weren't helping. I had my husband pick up a cheap pump at the Wal-Mart on the way home from his daily hospital vigil. I used that cheap Evenflo pump with both my babies, best $40 ever spent! The pump did the trick and we were getting the hang of this breastfeeding stuff. I always tried to stay positive and not complain about anything. I didn't want my husband to feel like he had to care for his parents, me and Colton.

My breastfeeding challenges were pretty much overcome by week 2 and we never looked back. I never considered stopping breastfeeding, I just knew that we would be successful after we got over the learning curve. Being a mom was hard, tiring work but I could do it and I felt capable. Moms don't need to breastfeed to be good mothers, I know that. But overcoming the challenges to breastfeeding made me feel empowered, like my body was made to give birth and nourish my baby. When you stop and think about it, it's pretty amazing that we moms can make and deliver everything our babies need to survive and thrive right inside our bras! It's pretty cool when you think about it.

During my first month as a mother Colton was my constant companion in a mostly empty house and I was glad to have him. I missed my husband and I wished things would have worked out differently. There was a lot of sadness around me and a grim realization about living with a severely disabled person from now on. But, I had a new life to care for and he was my only priority, the mourning happened outside of my bubble that was relevant to me. I knew it was occurring and I could discuss it and sympathize, but not much more.

Figuring out how to be a mom is kind of a solitary journey for us all, you have to find your groove for yourself. Breastfeeding is leg of my journey, kind of rocky in the beginning but quickly became a frequent reminder that I could handle motherhood and the million challenges that come with it.

Helen - Co-founder of Milkies and mom to 2 little boys Henry 2 years and Colton 4 years old.

Check out her website at http://www.mymilkies.com/


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