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Journey into Motherhood

Sarah Knowlton-Mitchell
Maple Grove MN USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 23 No. 1, January-February 2006, pp. 9-10

My precious daughter, Julia, is about to turn one year old. As I reflect upon this past year, I realize that motherhood has been even more amazing than I could have imagined. I never knew the hidden blessings that lay before me.

The previous year was a completely different story. I was sick during my entire pregnancy. I suffered from an extreme case of hyperemesis gravidarium, which is basically morning sickness times 100 -- a constant nausea and endless vomiting, hospitalization, five months of IV fluids, and home health care. My doctors kept reassuring me I'd get better, but I never did. I did not know if I was going to make it both physically and emotionally.

Childbirth and motherhood have been the greatest gifts. I felt better the exact minute Julia was born. All the physical symptoms went away and my whole world changed as my healthy daughter was placed on my chest. Some new parents complain of the sleepless nights and lifestyle changes having a baby brings, but I've happily embraced it all! I have a whole new appreciation for each day I feel healthy again.

So, where am I going with all of this? After having such a difficult pregnancy, I remember telling my friends and family that I wasn't sure if I'd breastfeed. Fortunately, I had an open mind to at least try. I breastfed Julia within minutes of her birth. I was in awe at how natural those mother and baby instincts were. We were just drawn to each other. My new goal became to breastfeed Julia for six months.

Within the first few weeks of breastfeeding, I became what my husband calls a "major spokesperson" for breastfeeding. I cannot hide my passion! I want to run up and hug other mothers whom I see breastfeeding their babies and children (especially in public)! I am so proud of all of you who have made the commitment. The bonding and health benefits are endless for both baby and mother.

As we approach Julia's first birthday, I have been asked by several people, "When are you going to stop breastfeeding?" They may not mean to sound critical, but I find myself wanting to defend breastfeeding and state all the reasons I should not stop at one year. Instead of letting this upset me, I am making it my mission to encourage other mothers to continue breastfeeding.

In my experience, the questions people ask new parents are those that will elicit a negative response. For example, "Is she sleeping through the night?" Most babies do not sleep through the night. Why do people focus so much attention on the negative? I have found that with my wonderful Julia (who, by the way, is still not a great sleeper) there is so much more to being her mother than the sleep factor. I want to change these negative conversations into positive, uplifting, encouraging ones by asking other new parents more important questions.

"What is your favorite thing about becoming a parent?" or "What have you learned since you've become parents?" or "What is the biggest unexpected blessing of having a child?" I want to help keep mothers inspired and focused on our incredible purpose-driven journey into motherhood. Please join me in doing so!

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