Trusting My Heart
Charleston, SC USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 14 No. 3, May-June 1997, pp. 86-7
We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.
I became pregnant with my son Christopher, now 19 months, during my final year in college. After the initial shock and a lot of self-reflection, I knew I had to make some important decisions for myself and my baby. I had to start trusting my heart and do what I felt was right.
While finishing my classes, I read all I could on pregnancy and babies. I had known that I wanted to breastfeed ever since I saw a film on the benefits of breastfeeding during high school. I had concerns that I would not be able to do it. From the start, I wanted to make my baby feel as special and happy as I possibly could. I knew lots of affection and gentle discipline would be the foundation of our relationship.
My mother, who had breastfed my sister and me, encouraged me to go to La Leche League meetings. I attended my first one when Christopher was six weeks old. I had originally planned on breastfeeding my son for four to six months, but when I listened to the LLL mothers talking about breastfeeding, I was exuberant and rejected the idea of a set cut-off date.
At first, I was confused about how to respond to Christopher's cries. He seemed to want to breastfeed most of the time, and nursing was the only thing that calmed him. I held Christopher practically all day and we slept together at night. I felt in my heart these were the right things to do, but many other mothers in my community told me I was selfish, and that I would end up with a clingy, spoiled child.
I was so relieved to hear LLL mothers and fathers talk about doing the same things I believed in. I no longer felt guilty about nursing on demand, responding quickly to Christopher's cries, or co-sleeping. I had found my home. The longer I nursed Christopher, the longer I wanted to nurse him. When he was 16 months old I began working full-time. I had been dreading the time when I would have to leave him for the whole day. The fact that I had to work didn't make leaving him any easier. Even though I knew he couldn't understand my words, I explained to Christopher that Mommy had to go to work so she could buy the things we needed. I found the best day care I could afford, and he seems to really enjoy it.
After a long day and a happy reunion, we come home and begin to breastfeed. This little ritual helps us reconnect after eight hours of being apart. Then I do my best to fix a fast, nutritious supper and we spend the rest of the evening doing something together. Because Christopher is my first priority, other things have to wait. For example, I have piles of laundry that need to be done and the beds never seem to get made, but Christopher doesn't mind.
Nursing a toddler has made me even more thankful for LLL's mother- to-mother support. Had it not been for LLL, I don't think I would have continued to breastfeed Christopher into the toddler years. I still attend LLL meetings and look forward to them all month long. After the meetings I feel wonderful about my mothering decisions and believe I'm a great mother to Christopher. In September 1996, I attended my first LLL Area Conference in Greenville, South Carolina, thanks to a scholarship. How wonderful it was to meet more mothers with similar interests and concerns!