Today is the last day of World Breastfeeding Week. As you may be aware, I talk about breastfeeding rather a lot. I couldn’t very well let this week pass unnoticed. And with Jacob’s 2nd birthday and Hannah’s first day of kindergarten looming I’m in a nostalgic sort of mood. So allow me to wax poetic about breastfeeding.
When I think about breastfeeding my babies, I don’t think about health benefits or studies or what impact it may or may not have on their IQ. I also don’t think about Hannah’s rough beginning or Jacob’s current tendency to engage in breastfeeding acrobatics. These things do not represent breastfeeding for me.
When I think about breastfeeding I think about the first time that Hannah actually nursed. She was eight days old and I felt such a rush of love for her. I’m sure it was the nursing hormones, but I felt in that moment that my baby was really and truly mine, and that she was the best baby in the whole world.
When I think about breastfeeding, I think about the early mornings when Jacob sneaks into our bed and cuddles up next to me and nurses. He is still so much a baby in those moments. His little hand grasps my finger and he drinks and then falls back to sleep, his hand still wrapped around mine.
When I think about breastfeeding, I think about all the places I’ve done it. Walking across the Burrard Street Bridge in downtown Vancouver. All over the local IKEA. Kneeling on the floor in front of the potty, trying to encourage my toddler to stay put long enough for something to happen. Standing and swaying in the crying days, trying to calm my unhappy baby. In airplanes and in my computer chair.
I think about these kids when I think about breastfeeding
When I think about breastfeeding, I think about whether or not I want to right now, or whether I would rather offer my child a sippy cup, a cracker, a cookie. Anything to get three whole minutes without a little person touching me.
When I think about breastfeeding, I think about how I’ve used it to keep my child quiet. While I talked on the phone, while I worked at the computer, while I watched a TV show with a baby on my lap. Or when the hurts got to be too much for a little person, and I wanted the screaming to end.
When I think about breastfeeding, I think about Hannah sharing her memories of nursing. She says, “That picture stays in the front of my mind.” And I am glad that I am not the only one who remembers the countless hours we spent that way.
When I think about breastfeeding, I think about how Jacob’s first true word, the one he used most consistently, was “nurse”. And how it’s still his favourite word. He drops the ‘n’: urse, urse, urse. Mama, urse!
I am familiar with the science of breastfeeding, and that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. But that’s not what breastfeeding is about for me. It’s just a part of my daily parenting life. There is good and bad, tedium and transcendence. And like the rest of parenting, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What do you think about, when you think about breastfeeding?