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My Reward

Amanda Durdin
Houston TX USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 6, November-December 2001, p. 209

I've always known that my calling was to be a mother. Women today have the right to be anything they want to be and that's a wonderful thing. For me, I can't imagine any career more rewarding than being there, day in and day out, to watch my children grow, to teach them, and to guide them through childhood.

Three months ago I became a mother and now I am experiencing the daily joys of my calling. I have a beautiful baby boy named Cole, and he has surpassed any expectations I might have had for him. He has also presented me with more challenges in his short life than I ever expected.

The first challenge was that of his birth. To begin with, he was stubborn about coming out at all. He was a week overdue, but to me it felt as if he was a month overdue. Because of his size, my doctor told me it would be best if we induced labor. Eager to be finished with pregnancy and to meet my baby, I quickly agreed.

The big day started out easily enough. I was administered pitocin and put on monitors. I was having mild contractions, but not to the point where they were painful. Several hours later, the doctor decided to break my water. It was then that the labor became real to me in two different ways. I realized the instant he broke my water that there was no going back, that we were having the baby in a matter of hours. In the next instant I realized what a strong contraction feels like. I had planned to labor without an epidural. To my chagrin, after those first couple of contractions, I was begging for an epidural. The nurse told me that since I was only two centimeters dilated, I would have to wait a little while.

The next interval was the most challenging and exhausting experience of my life. I was almost incoherent with pain, and the medication I was given to help me sleep didn't seem to be working. Little did I know I was in transition.

Then, suddenly I had the urge, or more precisely the physical need, to push. Not much time had passed since the doctor had broken my water-less than an hour, in fact. I yelled for the nurse; this didn't seem right to me. I wanted to push, but was it time for that yet?

The doctor wasn't there. It was just my husband and me. The nurse came and told me to calm down. She checked my cervix and, lo and behold, I was fully dilated. I had gone from two centimeters to 10 in 40 minutes. Eleven minutes and a few excruciating pushes later, with my husband and my mother there to help me, Cole was born. He weighed in at nine pounds and one ounce. His color was beautiful, not blue or red, just barely pink. And I got my wish to deliver without an epidural after all.

Breastfeeding has not been a challenge for us. To me, it was the most practical thing. It was free and it was the natural way. It wasn't until I was totally committed to it that I learned that science supports the superiority of human milk for babies. However, Cole has gastroesophogeal reflux, which means that he spits up large amounts of milk quite frequently. That in itself is merely a laundry problem, but when he spits up constantly, the acids from his stomach make his throat raw and painful. In order to satisfy his hunger, he compensates by breastfeeding very frequently. At three months, he weighs a plump 17 pounds, so, thankfully, weight gain isn't a problem. We are currently trying medications to stop the reflux or at least stop the pain it causes. It helps both my husband and me to know that whenever Cole is feeling bad, he can nurse because it always makes him feel better.

Breastfeeding has turned out to be something that I wholeheartedly enjoy. So much, in fact, that I plan to nurse my son until he weans himself. This is not a practice that is looked upon kindly in my family. My husband, wonderful man that he is, doesn't yet understand my decision to continue to nurse into the toddler years if that is what my son desires. This challenge looms ahead of me, but it is one I will face armed with the knowledge that in doing so I am giving my son a wonderful gift.

I feel closer to every mother I've ever known now that I've had just a taste of what she's been through. A life full of challenges awaits me, but for now I think I'll just go tuck my son into bed, smell his sweet baby smell, and watch him sleep for a while because, at the end of a long day, that is my reward.

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