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The Most Rewarding Experience

By Lauri Houpy
Dallas TX USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 6, November-December 2005, p. 255

If someone were to ask, "Would you do it over again?" I would reply, "In a heartbeat!" I think that becoming a mother is the most rewarding experience a woman can have. When I became pregnant, I had one very important goal: to breastfeed. I was not going to let anyone pressure me into doing anything different. But I never dreamed that there could be problems. Breastfeeding can be hard work for both baby and mother, but the rewards far outweigh the trials.

Our daughter, Deanna, was born six weeks early in January of 2003. I gave birth in a hospital and chose natural childbirth for the delivery. For that I am thankful because it is a time that I can fully remember and I did it on my own. Because of complications, I was not able to breastfeed right away. Deanna was whisked away to the NICU and placed on a ventilator to assist her breathing. Fortunately, I was able to start breastfeeding when she was 12 hours old. It was then that our problems began.

Because of her prematurity, Deanna could not stay at the breast for long without tiring. I was told by the staff that I had to pump and feed her my milk in a bottle. That was so disheartening, but I stuck with it. On day four, Deanna developed jaundice and was placed in an incubator with special lights. I was only able to hold her while feeding a bottle of my milk. During her extended hospital stay I worked very closely with the lactation nurses. I became very close to one nurse, Nuala Murphy. She answered my many questions and helped me to see the advantages of breastfeeding. She also became my greatest encourager, second only to my husband. At two weeks, Deanna was discharged and we took her home.

I encountered many problems, which included insufficient milk supply, mastitis, a case of shingles, and just being overtired. I had long days and nights, sometimes pumping every two hours for several weeks in a row. Some well-meaning people were telling me to quit, and, because of that, I wondered, "Can I really do this breastfeeding thing?" Nuala worked with me on a weekly basis for several months. I still had issues, but things were getting better. Nuala became my breastfeeding shield of support. She encouraged me, cried with me, and encouraged me some more. She referred me to my local La Leche League Group for additional support. That was the beginning of a relationship with a great group of friends.

Deanna is now two-and-a-half years old and is a healthy, breastfeeding toddler. As a family we will continue to support her until she weans by herself. I continue to enjoy the rewards of breastfeeding.

I know that I gave Deanna the very best start and nursing into toddlerhood is shaping her into who she will become. I am so thankful to have met a dedicated lactation specialist like Nuala, who really does care about her job and the families she works with. Without her support my efforts to continue breastfeeding would have ended. I am also grateful for my LLL Leaders and friends for their support, too. I look forward to reading NEW BEGINNINGS magazine, another type of support from mothers I've never met.

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