Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.
Monday, October 22, 2007Welcome to the latest Carnival of Breastfeeding! This month's topic is a spin on the NPR's "This I Believe" series of essays. You'll find my post here followed by links to other participants in the carnival.
There's a phrase I remind myself of when the going gets rough.
"The things most worth doing in life are hard."
Maybe it's because I'm such a Robert Frost fan, maybe it's become I come from a very long line of "work as hard as you have to to make it work" types. Either way, I firmly believe in taking risks, making mistakes, committing myself and seeing it through the long haul.
I look back on the things I've done that were the hardest and I find they are the things I'm most happy to have accomplished. Working my way through college to avoid taking loans, taking on jobs I wasn't fully qualified for, being married for seven years, working to build a business while staying home with my kids...breastfeeding.
There are a ton of moms out there who will tell you how easy breastfeeding is. That it's so much simpler than bottle feeding. That "the first few weeks are tough, but once you have the hang of it, it's easy!"
Maybe it is for them. It's not for me.
Sure, after a rough first week I sailed through the next six months, but once I got past the six month mark breastfeeding became incredibly difficult.
Combine a child who won't take a bottle (or sippy cup) with a child who doesn't sleep through the night. Then throw in an early teether who doesn't bite, but enjoys a nice game of Gumby-nipple and you have a not-quite-so-pleasant experience.
In fact, as I noted in my post "The Dark Side of Breastfeeding," nursing isn't all warm cuddly babies and blissful milk grins. I imagine some of my regular readers have wondered how things have been going since I wrote that post. It's really the last personal update on breastfeeding I've posted here. (Though I really will get a reflection on a year of breastfeeding up.)
The truth is, it hasn't gotten much better. After ages of aiming for 18 months of nursing, I'm now actively (but slowly) working to wean Emmitt. I simply cannot take it any more. For me, for our family, breastfeeding is HARD.
Would I do it again if I had another child?
In a heartbeat.
I know I'll look back on breastfeeding and be so thankful I did it. Getting breastmilk into Emmitt for a full year (and counting) has been one of the things I'm most proud of as a parent. It's also been one of the hardest things I've done as a parent.
My readers know I don't sugar-coat breastfeeding in an attempt to make it more attractive to moms who are still making up their minds. I do this because I know how difficult it can be. I also know how many times I sat here wondering why it was "so much easier" for everyone else.
I got through by reminding myself that not every mom has it so easy. Sometimes the ones who have a hard time with it just aren't as vocal. I also got through by reminding myself that the things worth doing in life are often the most difficult.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful, fulfilling and healthy thing for a mother and child.
But it's not always easy.
To new moms thinking of breastfeeding or already struggling with it, I say this:
You aren't alone in wondering if you can make it. Many moms have been exactly where you are now. You'll have good days and bad days. Blissful days of milk smiles and twirling fingers and tear-inducing days of screaming frustration. You'll thank the heavens for being able to settle a baby in the middle of the night without making a bottle and you'll pull out your hair wondering when you might ever get a free minute to yourself again.
Remind yourself that breastfeeding may well be the first really difficult thing you do as a parent. Instead of using that as a reason to avoid it, embrace it. Parenting is a life-long journey that will ask you to stretch yourself beyond what you thought possible time and time again. You'll walk your children through bullies, first loves, broken hearts, frustrations with Algebra (maybe that was just me) and many more things. (That's if you're lucky...otherwise things will be even harder.)
Parenting is hard. Living life is hard. Look at breastfeeding as practice for the challenges of parenting that will follow.
Is it hard? It sure can be.
Is it worth it? Most definitely.
Check Out the Other Carnival Entries
Sinead at Breastfeeding Mums believes Education is the key to breastfeeding success
Half Pint Pixie writes Breastfeeding is natural but it sure isn't easy
Angela at Breastfeeding 1-2-3 believes in gentle discipline
Ashley at Such Great Heights points out you don't have to be a nursing mom to support breastfeeding
Tanya over at the Motherwear Blog says she believes in trusting her instincts
Amy at Crunch Domestic Goddess (who by the way is one of my favorite posters from the other end of the political spectrum) joins Tanya as a big believer in natural parenting instincts.
(More to come...)