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From Baby to Toddler

Debbie McKinney
Matthews, NC USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 14 No. 6, November-December 1997, p. 175

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.

There is something magical about an 18-month-old child. Around that age, babies seem to turn into little boys and girls. I've seen it in my friends' children and now I'm seeing it in my daughter, Haley. Her little feet, once red and round, are becoming flat from walking. The chubby legs are getting long and lanky. She has a neck where all we saw before was baby fat between her head and shoulders. Her face has grown less round, her eyes wide with interest in the world around her.

I knew this day was coming, and yet, I wanted to keep her a baby forever. Born a few weeks early, Haley had trouble latching on for her first five weeks. During that time, I pumped and fed her my expressed milk until she learned how to breastfeed. When I went back to work when she was seven weeks old, my heart wasn't in it. I quit after one week because I knew I wanted to be there for all the milestones and minor details in my baby's unfolding life.

Never once have I regretted my decision to stay home with her. It is a constant challenge to keep her mind occupied and teach her the basics of life. Even though I have been with her almost constantly since birth, I still savor every moment. I knew she would grow up, but I didn't imagine it would happen before my very eyes. She is able to communicate verbally and non-verbally, and has recently started speaking in sentences.

Still, through breastfeeding, we have a link to the past and the future. After such a rough start, we've become comfortable with our nursing relationship. It is the last link we have to the womb—the one true constant. A year ago I wouldn't have thought I'd still be breastfeeding. But nursing now is more for comfort than nutrition. No matter what Haley finds during her exploration of her world, she can always come back to the safety of Mommy's arms and the warmth of my breasts.

A month ago she was hospitalized for a viral infection and bronchiolitis. The first night, she was very sick. I felt so helpless watching her lying in a steel crib and hurting. By the next day she wanted to nurse, and the fact that I was able to nurse her gave me a sense of peace. It also reassured her that everything was going to be okay and I would be there for her. I had the nurses remove the crib and bring in a hospital bed so I could sleep with her. It was hard maneuvering around the IV, oxygen monitor, and tube in her nose, but I knew she needed me.

So even though my little girl is no longer a baby, the bond we share through breastfeeding will always be with us. We'll continue until she reaches the next step in her development and she no longer needs to nurse.

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