New York NY USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 23 No. 3, May-June 2006, pp. 106-107.
I am continually inspired by reading the "Mothers' Stories" section in each issue of NEW BEGINNINGS. I started going to La Leche League meetings in New York City when I was four months pregnant. I couldn't wait to be part of the breastfeeding mothers' world! I remember tearing over with joy during the first few meetings I attended—I was in complete disbelief that I would soon be nursing my own baby at meetings. I read THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING and swooned over all the pictures and mothering wisdom. Because I was so sick during the first five months of my pregnancy, I spent lots of time reading and preparing myself for labor and motherhood. What a fun bonding time for my husband, Kevin, and me.
On December 25, 2004, at 3:42 in the afternoon, Chaz Elias was born. Our wonderful midwife, Sylive, was there to catch him in the birthing center at a nearby hospital. It was the incredible experience we were praying and planning for. Chaz nursed right away and began his cosleeping relationship with us that evening. The first months of parenting Chaz were incredibly easy for us, to our great surprise. We are positive that the transition was so smooth because of the parenting methods we decided on. Kevin was supportive of breastfeeding, Chaz was a pro, and I surrounded myself with other breastfeeding mothers and like-minded parents. I strapped Chaz on and we were out and about the city from the start, breastfeeding in public whenever there was a need, which gave me confidence and comfort. My husband and I were meeting our baby's needs, learning how to be a family, and growing together.
At the same time, I was getting back in shape and preparing for any opportunities that might come up in my professional career as a dancer. Unexpectedly, when Chaz was almost nine months old, I got a job as a Rockette in the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. What a great surprise! I had been auditioning for this show for three years, and what do you know, I get cast the year after I have a baby. Kevin and I were thrilled. But what would this mean for Chaz and me? I was so used to being a stay-at-home mom and I loved it.
We were fortunate to find a wonderful sitter for Chaz. When I went to work, I left Chaz at home. The sitter brought Chaz to me every day at lunch to nurse. I nursed before I left for rehearsal, when I got home, and often through the night. When shows began three weeks later, my schedule was long and grueling, sometimes with a whopping five shows a day. This didn't leave time for me to nurse during the day, so I pumped in the dressing room between shows (teaching some of my fellow Rockettes all about breastfeeding at the same time). What I looked forward to most each day was walking in the door and seeing Chaz reaching for me ready to nurse. That reconnecting time was so special for us.
This was a growing time for the entire family. I watched Chaz become independent as he began to devour solid food and beg for more. I watched my husband grow as a father as he became the weekend "sitter" and spent quality time with his son. He even learned he could comfort our son by holding him in the cradle position while Chaz sucked on his pacifier. They even switched sides! When Chaz had his share of comfort, he returned to playing. I grew as a woman and as a mother as I learned to appreciate my time with the family.
Because of what I had heard and seen at LLL meetings, I was so committed to extended nursing that I pumped to keep my milk supply up, coslept so Chaz could nurse all he wanted at night, and never gave him a bottle if I was available. When the three-month season at Radio City ended and I came home to be with Chaz full-time, I was overjoyed that he picked up nursing as he had before. What a strong bond breastfeeding brings! Nursing is pure comfort to both of us, not to mention a nice quiet break from all the action. It was well worth the extra effort. I can honestly say being a Rockette is just as challenging as being a mother, but in different ways.
Recently, Chaz was very sick and completely stopped eating for four days. We nursed almost around the clock; it was the only thing that would ease his discomfort. My milk supply increased to meet his demands. I knew I didn't have to be concerned about whether or not he was "getting enough."
I'm so thankful that our nursing relationship has lasted this long. Chaz sees me as an open lap with a warm hug and warm milk. I hope that will last far past my next Rockette season. Thank you, La Leche League, for helping me to see the incredible value of breastfeeding. And thank you to my husband, Kevin, who has cheered me on every step of the way, no matter what role I played.