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A Letter To My Daughter,

Dearest Lil Miss,

We have been on some rocky road lately, you seem to try out everything in your power to make my brain try to escape my skull. You have listened to my direction and done everything but. We have shared screaming matches, anger fits, and heartfelt tears. Yes, it’s been a rough road. Dreadful, actually. It was until yesterday, that we finally connected the way we used too. I want to document this moment to you, so we both don’t forget.

I was on the phone with a friend, we were discussing about the TIME cover and how her, not being a nursing mother, took it as they were mocking us mothers who nurse  an older child. I explained to my friend, while I was actually nursing you, that I loved the picture. To me, every picture tells a story, and I have yet to find a nursing picture that I have not liked. It reminded me of the nursing acrobats that toddlers do. I just try really hard to not look past the picture, because the wording takes a cut to every mother, nursing or not. And how unnatural the poise was, but moving on.

Flashes of memories came back in my mind. So many that brings a smile to my face.  Remembering them again, as you sat contentedly on my lap, soaking in every word – remembering too, as I retell the stories. The way you used to curl your legs around my neck so you upside down, times I woke up in the morning with you nursing the other way. That one priceless time when I was typing up a Daycare recipe and you snuck a chair behind mine, leaned over, pulled up my shirt and latched. All good memories.

After I hung up the phone you said to me, “Momma, I want to be a baby again”. It broke my heart, because now I heard what you meant. I have heard you many times in the past year on how you want to go back to being a baby, and I just thought that you just ‘wanted to go back to being a baby’ to do baby things. I never knew you felt what I was feeling.

With me being so stressed out and drained from life experiences and trying to get me back. I have lost so much of what my goal is with being a mother. I am constantly tied with feeling that I should not be mad at a child I was lucky to have, to teaching this child the basics to becoming better than me in adulthood. I pass through life with so much thought on what not to do, that I forget that you are the only person that just wants me. That in of itself is taxing, but it’s what I signed up for.

I usually replied to your statement with, “Well, babies don’t do this or that”. But yesterday I guess I was on the ball a bit more. I heard that you want us back, just like I do. That you feel lost, and that you miss how we connected and even though I try so hard everyday to give you and teach you that where we were a year ago is not normal, I lost my humor and my affection. I’ve put my attention to all the things you might have seen and heard and trying to undo them, that stopped what I started when you were born. Lil Miss, I heard you last night. And I feel the same way.

We both stared at the TIME cover and smiled as “Are you Mom enough?” glared at me on the side. I answered the question with, no I wasn’t. This time not out of guilt, but out of reality. I have not been Mom enough. By being Mom enough is not being the mom that everyone else thinks you should be, it’s about being enough Mom for your child. And I have not been.

I want you to know that I will always love your baby, toddler and preschooler days, but I will also love your school days too. They are not finished yet and sometimes I am grateful for it. I will reflect on our yesterdays, because back then I have all the answers now, today – not so much. I don’t want to do anything wrong emotionally to you, and I want to keep my promise to you. I will not intentionally make you feel the way I have felt growing up.

Just because I look back and sometimes I wish to rewind time. It’s not because today is a drag and I don’t want to continue, it’s because there are moments I should have lingered longer and I didn’t. Other times those moments also make me understand today and appreciate it more.

We continued to look at this cover, I think and feel the same as I always have. Nursing is the only way we could have bonded and maintained that bond for as long as we do. Nursing always makes us come back, whether it’s the act, memory, or looking at a picture and talking about it. We will always have that to remind us that its us in this world together, and I have your back. Nursing, even when we are not, will be our door to put down any hurt form the day and tie another rope around our hearts, just in case the last rope frayed a little bit.

I went into mothering remembering my first memory – of me and my cowgirl boots at 2. I don’t remember being happy, I just remember it. Nothing of the memory brings any feelings and the rest of my childhood, brings a lot of anxiety and rage. I wanted to give you something more. I knew in the NICU, nursing was the ONLY way to hold you, so it become important to me. When you arrived home nursing became the only thing that would make you stop crying, which became important to me. As you entered toddlerhood, it was a time where we would learn things together, new words or just be – together, so it became important  to me. As you entered preschool it became the only time that you stop your fits, and that became important to me.

And now, you’re going to school. You are five. You can tell me stories of different times we nursed and where. You remember us sitting together on a park bench, counting the birds that flew by. You would see babies being nursed at the mall and smile. You will happily tell the nursing mom that you are nursed and you remember. You remembering being nursed, has always been important to me. You will be more “Mom Enough” than I would because you will remember nursing as you are nursing your own. The cycle will be fully complete than. The way that nature intended. And you will come to days and moments where you want to pull out your hair, then see something on a cover to ask you if you are “Mom enough” and you will get mad, because silently you will answer no.

But except for being alone, like me, you will have me to tell you that only you can define what is enough. You just have to be that, and if it’s guilt you feel, find out why and change what you can. What you can’t change in your life, support someone else who comes after you. Most importantly, always raise your children to be better than you ever were. Because that is the only feeling of ‘enough’ we will ever have.

And never forget, you are the best at everything you do, because only you can do it the way you do. Underneath all my worries and deep dark fears, I hope you will see I had and will always have the best of intentions.

Weaning…thought I’d do it, now I don’t know!

I would like to share with you my reply to a question/comment on Mamapedia. I feel that it’s important for every mother to chime in to give this mom gentle, positive encouragement. So if you have time please give this mom some love and share your stories of nursing past infancy. Along with your feelings and thought processes when you got the idea of why it’s done.

 

“First, I’ll say that this is just my personal opinion and situation, and not meant to offend anyone.

Personally, I’ve always thought nursing a toddler (or older) was fairly disgusting and potentially abusive. I don’t mean a baby toddler…I mean a two, three year old or older who can walk and talk and drink from a cup and eat with a fork.

However, approaching nine months of exclusive nursing and I am beginning to wonder if I am not starting to understand why they do it…is it really going to be as hard to let go of as I think it is? Every time my daughter stands up on my lap and yanks out the neck of my shirt and looks down it, then looks up at me and smiles like “okay, I’m ready!” I think I will never be able to give it up, unless SHE wants to give it up!

What do you think?”

 

Hugs to you fellow Mama,

I have to say I was right in your place a few years ago. Before, I thought it was weird, nursing was only for babies. I could not, would not understand why my cousin nursed to 2. She would say the doctor says it’s ok. I was apart of the crowd that I wish I never was.

I went through the same feelings as you. Although, I never thought nursing was disgusting, I just never thought it was quite right past, whatever I thought babyhood was gone. As my DD reached 6 months, then 9, then she had her first birthday. I thought I was not ready, and she surely felt the same. I looked at her and knew that our nursing was nothing wrong. It’s actually something I wanted, almost needed her to remember.

That is when it was final, I was nursing until she was through. That is when everything changed. I was proud when she told me nursing stories, even in public and around other people (who might not like the idea). I became more vocal about breastfeeding and our love for it. I became empowered by growing my own child and wanted everyone else to experience that same joy. I could not wait for her to give nursing a nick name, and I smiled while nursing in public. Nothing and no one will tell me different.

DD is going on 4 in April. She still nurses. She is slowly weaning and boy is she the most independent child I know. She is funny and smart, she will spot out other nursing mothers and children and say how lucky they are. She appreciates it just as much as I do. She makes funny stories, and she asks me to nurse different things. Just yesterday, I nursed a river rock, because it was sad and “Mommies makes things better”. Through nursing, I taught her something that I never thought was my goal. She turns to people for comfort and not things. It’s taught her what breasts are really for. I have no doubt in my soul that, from her nursing into childhood, she will not have as much body issues as I did growing up.

Please don’t take this as an attack to anyone who formula feeds. I can only tell you my experience and what I think about it. I now encourage all mothers to breastfeed for as long as it’s mutually needed/wanted. If a mother has doubts about weaning, I tell her she is not ready and I share our story. To me, age is just a number and no matter how old your child is, they will still be the precious soul you had no clue why they let you be alone with to care for. They will still melt your heart, they will allow you to cry happy tears and amaze you with their thoughts. They will always be your child, your baby. Enjoy this, try to put societies issues aside. Once you do, you will be free to mother the way you feel is right.

PS: I would like to share with you a link to beautiful stories of Nursing Past Infancy. http://codenamemama.com/?s=nursing+past+infancy Our story is #15.

I Am A Mean Girl?

mean girl

Image by Laniebird5000 via Flickr

Today I was graced with reading Breastfeeders Are Mean Girls, Posted by Annie Krasnow. If you have yet to read and wanted to, I would go ahead with caution. Especially if you are having a good day/morning, or, like me, have not fully woken up. I could not leave my below comment  on the post because it was too long.

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Even before I knew I was pregnant, I knew I was going to breastfeed my baby. I knew not only was it right but cheap and normal. I knew mothers choose different options and I was fine with everyone just feeding their own child – the way they want. I was at peace with everything then.

Then K2 arrived. I have not been more bullied, pushed around, and degraded more than I am now, being a breastfeeding mother. I could not understand. I was feeding my child, yet I would have people come to me and tell me that my milk is going to dry up, that she’s not getting enough, that I am starving my baby, for me to cover up or go to another room. And that is just the tip of what was said to me.

When they figured out I would not listen to the myths, believe them and conform to their belief of healthy and civil they moved on to my husband; who was against me breastfeeding in the first place. I cannot count how many times DH and I broke up or fought within the first year alone, because of the lack of knowledge about breastfeeding. Heaven forbid I, as a first-time-mother, know anything either. So please forgive me, if I take this whine without cheese a bit offensive.

Yes, when it comes to breastfeeding conversations this author may feel that she is bullied. Thankfully, I have not seen any breastfeeding advocate bringing up breastfeeding in the intent to bully or hurt, but  rather to inform. I know if I hear about misinformation, I am correcting it and I can’t own how the other person takes what I say out of context or for their feelings. I try to be as tactful as possible and most often my heat goes towards the dumb medical professional that gave wrong misleading advise in the first place.

When you look at the big picture really, I hate to tell this author, it’s breastfeeding that takes more of the hit. You don’t see bottle-feeding mothers being asked to cover up or asked to go to another room. You don’t see pictures of bottles being deleted from Social Networks. You don’t see bottle-feeding mothers being told that they are not making enough formula or the kind of formula is not right for the baby. You will never see a news article of a bottle-feeding mother and child being asked to leave a public place. You also would never hear about a doctor telling a mother that formula is not enough that she should supplement with  breastfeeding.

So where does the hate and bullying really lie? Is it Formula or Breast that starts the attacks? Who bullies more or more often? Well you can always refer back to the author’s post and read the comments for conformation. In my experience I had a bit of both, at first is was those who never breastfed, and now it’s those who breastfeed; but not as long as K2 and I do. The most hurtful and damaging of the two sides was from people who are considered family and who has never latched a baby to their breast. Reason being, it caused us to crumble our family’s foundation with resentment and mistrust in which we are still, three years later, trying to build up.

The only thing I can say is, before you say or write something, trade the feeding method with your own, if it would offend you, don’t ask for it to happen and don’t say or write it out loud. And for this author to look at the larger picture and how she is not helping matters.

A Dream To Remember

I had another dream last night that has stuck with me all day. It was a hopeful pick me up from others that I just can not share. I have put in other names because it seems better to understand then to put me and my mother. And of course, I tried my best to capture the feelings in words, which is very hard for me to do.

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Lee, a daughter, who just became a new mother herself is welcomed home with a healthy baby from the hospital. A bright new future ahead, a tiny baby, a new family, wonderful happy moments to share.

Ann, a mother who recently became a Grandmother, smiles widely at the way life has turned out. A new addition to her family, warmth and love fills the room. She sits back in wonder, in grace, and in hope. She knew this day would come, yet it seemed so far away.

Ann helps her daughter settle the luggage, she helped with the new baby’s items and is in for some Mother-to-Mother time with her daughter. The home is filled with peace and joy, and she reminisces on the day she brought Lee home.

The new baby lets out a fuss and the new mom picks up the child and cradles her in her arms. The new joy roots around against her mother’s breast, knowing mom will get the hint. As mom lifts her shirt and latches the baby, the baby opens her mouth and begins to nurse.

Ann looks in awe on how magically things seem to be between the new mother and child. She fills her senses with the moment to remember every detail. The way her daughter holds her baby. The way their eyes are locked on each other. The way the baby instantly calms and settles into a peaceful sleep. And how the world is surrounded by this one-act.

As Lee places the sleeping baby in the bassinet, Ann goes to the kitchen to get a snack and some juice. She could hear the baby’s cries again. As Ann returns to the livingroom she notices her daughter has been quickly transformed. She seemed frazzled, tired, hopeless and in need of some tender care.

Lee looks up at her mother, “Mom, I can’t do this, she wants the breast every moment of the day. I can’t get a moments rest. I can’t do this, I just can’t!”. Ann sets the glasses and platter down on the table and scoots beside Lee. She quickly remembers back to a time when she was there.

“Lee, you are this baby’s mother and you have chosen this way to feed your child. You are this baby’s home and the closet thing to heaven in this big world of ours. You can do this, it’s just a growth spurt. I believe in you, and so does this tiny child.”

Ann notices her daughter’s shoulder relax, her eyes closed to gather her will. She realizes she is tired and new to everything, and it’s alright to not have all the answers. She looks at her mother with admiration for her support in her and in her belief, “But Mom, how did you know this, when you didn’t nurse that long?”

“Well, the last time I came for a visit I noticed a breastfeeding book on your table. I jotted down the title, because I know that is what you wanted to do. I bought the book and I read it from front to back. I knew that as your mother I need to help you, if and when I can.”

Ann continued, “Even though I did not breastfeed you for very long because I was told my milk was bad, does not mean I can’t help you, encourage you to your goal. Back then, when you were young, we did not have the information you have now. As your mother and as this baby’s Grandmother I owe it to you both to love and support you as the breastfeeding dyad.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone felt this way?

 

My Fantasy – When There is a Recall

Fight For Your Rights (RAW)

Image by Robbie Veldwijk via Flickr

Every time there is a formula recall, I have this selfish feeling that maybe this will be the time when everyone bands together. I get the image of every women, man and parent standing up and voicing the hate for having no support and to stop this ludicrous.

I think that finally this formula vs. breastfeeding ‘war’ will end and we can be on the same page. That formula parents will invest in some time learning about human milk, and what has caused them to not succeed. That people will realize that when an article is shared it’s not a slap in the face. Most importantly, make sure there is proper support intact for the next generation.

I vision that parents will fight against the wrong doings of companies, that cause children and our future adults harm. I think that finally the lack of support for breastfeeding in public will simply vanish. When I hear about a lawsuit towards a company because they harmed their loved one. I get this righteous feeling that finally these companies are being held accountable. That finally the ‘war’ is directed to what it should have been directed to, so many years ago.

I picture the pride a mother could feel, seeing her daughter nurse her grandchild, when she did not have that experience herself. To have a world come together for the sake of our future, put behind our mistakes and create new ways of thinking. To bind together a new law that encourages the healthiest most possible way to build and grow life.

To never again have an unsuspecting mother cry herself to sleep at night, because she had trusted a company for the best means of her child. To know what is in the products we give to our children and have the recent and truthful studies behind everything that can be purchased.

Even in these few minutes of eluding in my fantasy, I do come to relativity. I will not see this sort of world in my life time. We are too hooked up with profits, currency, The Big Pharma and sex. Sadly, I am revived with the knowledge that the innocent are being affected. Humans are creatures of habit and it takes years for each generation to erase a bit more of the pain from earlier decades.

Of course, there are many factors that are not expressed in my fantasy. But in those moments I escape the hurt and anger I empathize with, I am pieced together with some source of hope for the future. In the future our human ignorance will realize what sabotage we have done.

However, I do believe in my heart that one day a company will go too far, and my fantasy will come alive. All the years of covering up will bury these greedy mass producers and they will not have anyone to blame but themselves. Man, I would love to be able to see that. What would come of it? What would we have learned?