After about a million and a half unexpected views on this particular blog entry, I became aware that some of the images I had used to add humor to it may be copyrighted and not mine to borrow. In the interest of "better safe than sorry", I decided to remove any picture that wasn't mine. I hope you still enjoy my little salute to Nursing Mamas, even without the pictures. :)
Did you know that this is World Breastfeeding Week?? Did you know there was a World Breastfeeding Week?? Well there is! I breastfed the twins for a few weeks before making the decision to switch to formula, and that is a decision I do not regret one bit! They thrived on it and I was able to regain some of my sanity after those incredibly difficult first few weeks. I have fed my babies in numerous different ways, from breastfeeding to formula feeding to exclusively pumping...they all have had their ups and downs. I'm so thankful God provided so many ways to feed and nourish our little ones!
But since this is World Breastfeeding Week, I'd like to throw a shout out to my fellow breastfeeding mamas. Nursing Jones has been one of the most challenging, difficult, painful, rewarding, stressful, hair pulling, peaceful, relaxing, joyous experiences of my life!! It has been a roller coaster of emotions for the both of us, but I am so glad we have been blessed to be able to do this together. We've battled weight loss (his, not mine, unfortunately), tongue tie, low supply, terrible latch, mastitis (twice), just to name a few. So I'm pretty proud of the fact that we've come this far and have finally gotten to a place where we both enjoy it and he is growing and thriving!
So to all you other breastfeeding mamas out there, this is my salute to you.
To those mothers who spent the first weeks and months of your child's life literally attached to them 24 hours a day, I salute you. You, who eats, sleeps, and yes, sometimes even showers whilst simultaneously nursing your little nursling. Who can't remember the last time you slept longer than three solid hours without being awoken by a screaming baby and/or a soaking wet shirt. I salute you.
You, who has traded in her pretty, lacy, normal sized bras for unrecognizable contraptions with snaps and buckles and removable fronts in sizes you'd never thought you'd achieve without six thousand dollars and a good plastic surgeon, I salute you.
You, who took on the feeding of your infant entirely on your own, who is solely and fully responsible for their nourishment. Who didn't leave their infant's side for days, weeks, months, even to do simple errands, because you feared they would surely starve should you get stuck in traffic on the way home. You, who knows that the term "nursing vacation" is no vacation at all. Who's husband and mother and children hear one peep from your tiny bundle of joy and hand them right over to you saying, "I think he's hungry!" You, who simultaneously loves and hates that you are the only one on earth who has what your baby needs to survive, a job you take more seriously than anyone else can understand, I salute you.
I salute those breastfeeding mamas who have sat in that doctor's office, bawling your eyes out because your baby is not gaining weight at the perfectly perfect "normal" rate all pediatricians came together and decided on so that they could strike fear and guilt into any breastfeeding mother whose child does not meet this perfectly perfect timeline. You, who does not have the benefit of ounce markings on your breasts and has absolutely no idea how much or how little your baby is eating, only that they are eating all the time. All. The. Time.
I salute those mothers who have achieved their doctor's weight expectations and swell with pride (and milk) as they are patted on the back for doing such a great job growing their little human.
And to all those mothers who are growing those little humans despite mounting obstacles, who have battled tongue tie, low supply, excruciating pain, or all of the above and more, and have seen specialist after specialist trying to figure out what you're doing wrong, all of whom tell you one different thing after another. To those moms who stuck with it and to those who grieved the end of their breastfeeding relationship earlier than they anticipated, I salute you.
To those breastfeeding mamas who feel the eyes of onlookers boring into them and their hungry baby at the restaurant, or the grocery store, or the bleachers of your son's basketball game, and silently wonder if feeding your crying baby will offend anyone, I salute you. I especially salute those mothers who have learned not to care one iota who will be offended and feed their baby without cover or hesitation, without shame or embarrassment, paving the way for the rest of us to do so comfortably as well.
And to those breastfeeding mamas who do use that cover, that blasted cover, I salute you. You, who have been asked to or feel pressured to cover up your two square inches of exposed skin so as not to offend the nineteen-year-old in a transparent tank top and shorts with the word "JUICY" emblazened across her buttcheeks at the next table over. You, who have mastered the art of wrangling a starving, squirming baby with one hand whilst simultaneously unhooking your bra, flopping out a boob and latching your baby with the other. You, who has learned to do all of this blindly, under a tent which is surely made of the heaviest, hottest material known to man, while your baby looks up at you forlornly with a look that says, "Why the hell do I have to eat under this tent? It's 900 degrees under here woman!!!".
You, who wonders to yourself what the logic is in making nursing covers so women can breastfeed "discreetly" when every single one you have ever seen is decorated with the brightest, most flamboyant patterns known to man. Who feels as if every time you pull it out of your diaper bag and throw it over your body, you are declaring to the entire area, "BEHOLD!!! I AM NOW GOING TO BREASTFEED MY BABY!!! BUT I'M GOING TO DO IT UNDER THIS LARGE TENT DECORATED IN BLINDING COLORS SO AS NOT TO OFFEND ANY OF YOU!!! BUT PLEASE KNOW THERE IS LACTATING CURRENTLY HAPPENING. UNDER THIS TENT. THIS TENT RIGHT HERE. LACTATING."
Yes, I salute you and your tie dyed nursing blankets. And to those of you living in the desert and breastfeeding in sweltering heat, I salute you twice. You and your sweaty babies.
I salute you, mothers who have endured nasty stares, rude comments, and blindly ignorant opinions regarding breastfeeding. For those who have friends, family, and co-workers who gag on the very word "breastfeed" and can barely make eye contact with you when you must do so in front of them. To those who have been told that breastfeeding is "so gross" by a world that pours the breast milk of a farm animal on their cereal every morning. And to those who have not only ignored these people, but have also rebounded with a quick remark of your own, or better yet, a shot of breast milk in their eye, way to go mama!!!
Nursing Jones with my "flamboyantly yellow" nursing cover
To those breastfeeding mamas who were promised it was the cheaper, more economical option than formula, but have spent a small (or large) fortune on breast pumps, lactation consultants, nursing bras and pillows with names like, "My Brest Friend", I salute you.
I salute those breastfeeding mamas who have fed their babies at restaurants, in the car, at the park, in the garden aisle at Target, in the front pew of their church and in the shallow end of the wave pool.
I salute those mothers who have mastered nursing their babies while cooking, cleaning, blogging, and sleeping. Who take the term "multi-tasking" to a new level.
To those mothers who pray for a hypnotist that will one day be able to remove from your husband's brain the image of you pumping on the living room sofa while eating a bowl of ice cream. Who wonder if your son will someday require expensive therapy for all the times he's seen you whip out your boobs. I salute you, nursing mamas, who have caught your young daughters lifting their shirt to feed their baby doll, and felt pretty proud of yourself when you did. Good job mama, I salute you and your future breastfed grandchild.
To those working mothers, who have lugged a pump, a cooler, bottles and ice packs with them to the office every single day, I salute you. You, who have spent hours upon hours attached to a groaning machine, watching your nipples stretch to unnatural and horrifying lengths while you pray that you'll squeeze out enough milk to get your daycare provider through the next day. You, who have pumped in closets, cars, your boss's office and rooms labeled "LACTATION", praying no one walks in and sees you in a way no person should ever see another person. Ever. To those mothers who have driven home at ungodly speeds in order to make your baby's next feeding, only to walk in and find your husband giving him a bottle, I salute you.
You, who puts your very value as a mother and a human being in the amount of milk you tote home that day. Who knows how much work and time went into those bottles and turns into a raving lunatic if anyone says the phrase, "Is that all you got?" I salute the mothers who have literally poured out themselves into providing the best for their baby, only to accidentally knock it off the kitchen counter. I salute those of you who have had husbands jokingly tell them not to cry over spilled milk. And I salute you if you did, or did not, throat punch him.
On that note, I'd like to take a moment to salute the dads of these breastfed babies. To those husbands who have stood by their partner and supported her through the tears, the fears, the failures and the big wins. Who have taken on diaper duty because it is only fair that if she is in charge of input, you should be in charge of output. You, who have listened to the phrase, "Looky, no touchy" for a year or more and have given tender nicknames to your offspring like "Titty Monster" and "Boobie Hog". To those dads who have spent countless hours washing pump parts and fetching ice water to make things on mama a little easier, I salute you.
To those mothers who have powered through sore nipples, nursing strikes, teething babies, and growth spurts, I salute you. You, whose babies have the power to erase every bad experience and melt away every ounce of stress and frustration with one tender glance upwards as they nuzzle up against you. You, who feel both elation and depression at the very thought of weaning your nurslings.
To all the mothers who have spent hours crying and praying and stressing over feeding your baby, and have been rewarded with one of the most special experiences this life has to offer. You, who knows what "milk drunk" looks like, and your heart fills with pride and joy that you are the one who put that pure look of contentment on your baby's face. You, who cherish those quiet moments in the wee hours of the morning when it's just you and your baby, doing only what you and your baby can. Who practically melts when your baby wraps his hand around your thumb, or pats your chest, or plays with your necklace. To all the mothers who have sacrificed your body, your sleep, your time, and a bit of your sanity in order to offer your babies the gift of mommy milk, this week is for you.
I salute you mama, and your baby does too.
I am so blessed to get to nurse Jones. I know it is a blessing and a privilege and I don't take it for granted one bit. I worked so incredibly hard to have the breastfeeding relationship with him that I do, and that work was worth it to me, because I didn't have a positive nursing experience with the twins and I very much wanted to have one with Jones. It is only by the grace of God that we made it past those first two months and finally got the hang of things, and I very often thank Jesus out loud that He did get us through it! I often spend the time I am nursing Jones just staring at him and thinking about all God brought us through to get me to this point, and how He built in this special time of reflection for a few hours into each of my days. So in celebration of all it took to get us here...Happy World Breastfeeding Week, my fellow nursing mamas. Go buy yourselves a treat. ;)
Nursing Jonesy...sans cover ;)