Friday, August 6, 2010

Helping Them Grow

There’s a certain feeling of awe and accomplishment that comes over a new mother with the first glimpses of her baby. After nine long months of watching your belly swell, of feeling kicks in your ribs and trying to guess whether this poky bit is an elbow or a knee or a heel, it’s still a shock to see the tiny person that was in there. Those perfect little fingers, soft baby skin, itty-bitty nose all grew ¬inside of you and because of you. You’ve shared your food, your air, and your energy with this child in the most intimate and complete way possible, and now you finally get to cuddle him or her in your arms.

The beauty of being a nursing mother for me is that I get to repeat this moment every day. For the first six months of my daughter’s life, I was able to nourish her as completely as I did in the womb. There was nothing I needed to buy, nothing that someone else made that I needed to rely on—just my breast (although I did go through a few boxes of breast pads in the beginning!)

I always had a special feeling of pride when the pediatrician plotted her increasing weight on the growth charts. I wanted to say to her “You know those two pounds she gained? That was all me!” It was incredible to watch my daughter first wiggle, then roll, then crawl, knowing that every ounce of energy she was using came through me. And as she nurses, I marvel at how the baby who used to curl up on the Boppy now can stretch her long legs almost across our nursing chair. I wonder if I can see her fingers and toes growing when she pauses to look up with her sweet milky face. We’ve definitely had our share of sore nipples (I told my husband that the first few weeks of latching HAD to be the same feeling as for him to get kicked in the crotch!), nursing-marathon nights, skipping out on events because the baby needs to eat, and awkward wet spots on my shirt, as well as my first plugged duct making its appearance this week, but overall nursing has been full of far more ups than downs for us.

We started solid foods about three weeks ago, and I had a moment of sadness the first time she tasted something other than my milk. But I also know that my job as a mother is to help her grow, not just physically but also developmentally. I did that for six months with breastmilk alone. Now we’re still nursing for most of her nutrition, but the avocado and the carrot and the sweet potato helps make her part of the family at mealtimes and sets the stage for weaning someday. And I still watch her with joy after she nurses off to sleep, knowing that over six months after she was born, I’m still helping to grow a person.

~Elizabeth, mom of Amelia, 6.5 months

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