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It Was Worth It

Leigh Gamboa
Columbia, MD, USA
From: New Beginnings, Vol. 29 No. 5-6, 2009, p. 34

When Kai was born, I had no idea how hard it would be for us to breastfeed. Because nursing is natural, I expected it to be easy.

Following Kai's birth, we came home from the hospital on a Thursday afternoon, only to return to the ER on Friday night. Kai was jaundiced. I was painfully engorged and could not pump an ounce. I blamed myself for my baby's condition and was really nervous about nursing him. The doctor wanted Kai to have formula and, as scared first-time parents, we did whatever the doctor ordered.

His jaundice soon cleared up but the next several weeks were a whirlwind of around-the-clock pumping, awkward attempts at nursing, and lots of tears. Sometimes Kai would latch on and other times he refused and cried, and then I cried. I had some luck with nipple shields but they didn't solve our problems. I was exhausted and felt defeated. I suffered cracked and bleeding nipples and came down with mastitis three times. My husband and I were starting our own business, which added to the stress that I was already dealing with and still we survived. My husband really didn't understand my need to breastfeed our son. "Just give him a bottle," he said and he thought life would be easier if I gave up trying to breastfeed. However, I was committed to giving my son the best possible nourishment I could and that meant my own milk.

After weeks and weeks of pumping and using a nipple shield, we finally got to the point when Kai would nurse without a struggle on both breasts and without a nipple shield. It was pure bliss. I can't describe how I felt, and still feel, when we nurse. It is love and a bond that is magical. I love Kai so much and feel so incredibly blessed that I can provide for him in this way. It is physical nourishment for him. It is comfort that cannot be replaced by anything else. It is so natural -- like being a mother. Being a first time mom, I know nothing about parenting -- yet no one else could be Kai's mother!

We could not have coped without the help of La Leche League of Columbia, MD. I finally got my wits about me after the first three or four weeks of struggling and found Katie from LLL. I went to a meeting and met other mothers who were so encouraging, just by simply being there. Thank you to all those moms -- you are truly wonderful women, and you are helping other women be the best mothers that they can be.

We made it and I am happy to say Kai is now 22 months, is still nursing, and we love it. Kai nurses about four times a day and we recently night weaned him. I'm not sure when he will stop nursing but I'm in no hurry. Before I know it he'll be in school and too busy to spend that much time with me. I am cherishing our nursing days while we have them.

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