This week I am taking part in Mothering’s Blog About Breastfeeding event and am so excited to share my Bradley Birth breastfeeding story.
I was old enough when my youngest sibling was born to have seen breastfeeding as normal, though it wasn’t until I was old enough to ‘get it’ by seeing another mom breastfeed that it hit me-it’s normal and pretty amazing.
Picture this for a second: I am 15 years old and had just begun babysitting for a family I would then nanny for over the course of the 10 following years. At the time she had an infant, a toddler and a pre-schooler. The family was very open and relaxed and I instantly fit in. One day I walked in to the bedroom as she had requested I bring her some water. There she was, sitting on the corner of her king sized bed tandem nursing. I vividly recall not wanting to gawk, yet wanting to completely stare at the marvel that was right in front of me. It had such a profound impact on me. To this day I’m clear she has no idea the opening that created for my future mothering.
Fast forward ten years and I am pregnant with our first and planning a home birth complete with our doula and midwives. I had prepared for my experience with Bradley Natural Childbirth Education and was fully present to the opportunity breastfeeding would give me in sustaining our baby.
When Sunny was born, we placed her on my belly and watched as she scootched her way up my stomach and chest right to the breast where she started nursing. She didn’t leave that spot for 2 1/2 years, and when she did it was on her own.
Nursing Sunny at my in-laws while reading
I still remember a day when she was almost 3 and hadn’t nursed for a good 5 months. She fell, hitting her head on the door frame of our bedroom. This one was a doozy-an instant goose egg and a good cry ensued. After icing her noggin, she and I sat on the edge of our bed and she glanced up at me with that ‘look’-the one that says, May I nurse? I knew she needed it at the moment but wasn’t sure if it would mean another 6 month of nursing, or if it would be a one moment gig, so I let her. The most odd thing happened, in that she went to latch on and looked at me as if she had completely forgotten how. She literally could not do it, and the sadness that came over her face brought tears to my eyes. We snuggled and settled in for a story though the mark that left on my heart of that first physical separation as mentioned by Rudolf Steiner at age 3 was very evident.
When Annie came along four years later I was again ready to nurse for a couple of years. I got so much out of providing my girls with breastfeeding-the opportunity it gave me to Sit Down a handful of times per day was always welcome as a new mom. The nutrients for her, the emotional well being for me and the connectedness it brought to our family were all so very worth it.
Annie had a hiatal hernia, so for the first ten weeks of her life, she was a snacky nurser. Of course I couldn’t “see” that anything was off until she was 10 weeks old when I caught myself telling someone how fussy a baby she was-oh my gosh!, babies aren’t fussy unless something is off, and something was very off here. We got her hernia adjusted by a pediatric chiropractor and her nursing went back to normal, though she was always a quick one at the breast.
Nursing Annie before walking across the stage to get my degree from the University of St. Catherine
Her weaning was a gradual one, with night nursing going away, then we did the morning, naps and bedtime routine for a while, and as she got busier, she needed me less and less for nursing, until it eventually was done. The simultaneous freedom and sadness was such a sweet and salty experience. I still long for those nursing days-they may have done more for me than the babies!
I couldn’t have relaxed into my breastfeeding as well if our family hadn’t been so supportive. Both sets of parents were helpful and committed to giving our babies breastmilk in a bottle the few times they were in charge of care, and were always patient when a sit down was needed to nurse.
At parks, on hikes, on planes, in the car, at the mall, on the boat, at the beach, in the tub, in the shower, on the playground, at holiday gatherings we nursed.
Our babies were breastfed.
How much time did you spend breastfeeding your wee ones?