Friday, August 3, 2012

Alicia: What Breastfeeding Means to Me

I gave birth to my daughter Hailee in February 2009, one month before my 22nd birthday. I was a very young mom and very insecure with that even though my husband and I had already been in a very happy and loving relationship for over 6 years and married for 2 of them. We were young, crazy, and madly in love with each other. We made a choice to start our family early, and it was absolutely the best choice for us.

With that said, I was still left feeling very judged and inadequate as a mother at times because of my age. Comments like, "Wow. You are getting started young," from strangers really wore my confidence down. My older sister was the only person in either of our families' that I had known to breastfeed. My sister nursed her sweet son for close to 2 years though, and I saw how that bonded them together.
Breastfeeding was not something I had to decide if I wanted to do or not. For me, it was my only choice. It was also the beginning of me making choices for my child that were solely based on what was best for us, and had nothing to do with other's opinions. Of course it was healthy for me and my baby, but it was so much more for me. Breastfeeding gave me confidence in myself as a mother that I was doing what was best for my child. My husband's opinions were suddenly the only ones that mattered to me when it came to our daughter, and he was more supportive of breastfeeding than I could have ever imagined he would be.

I hope anyone out there struggling with confidence in your parenting choices can be inspired to try to just make choices based on what is best for you and your family despite your age or family dynamic. I love hearing what works for other families, but in the end I feel very strongly that something different works for every family. Whether it is breastfeeding, discipline, or the kinds of foods you eat; we all do things differently so let's be strong in those decisions. And a final word: let's support those other mamas out there who make choices different than our own, because it's what is best for their family.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ali: What Breastfeeding Means to Me

When I was pregnant with my daughter, the decision to breastfeed wasn’t an easy one for me. I have had Crohn’s Disease for 10 years and was on the fence about nursing due to the medication I was on at the time. I went back and forth and was very torn. I had always supported breastfeeding, but I didn’t know if it was going to be what was best for us. Needless to say, I ultimately decided to give it a try.

Today is my daughter’s 11 month birthday and we are still exclusively breastfeeding. Has it been easy? Not at all. Crohn’s Disease weakens my immune system and I have battled with thrush since she was 5 weeks old. I have also had mastitis a few times and currently she is going through a horrible biting phase. Despite all the tears and the hard times, I wouldn’t change it at all.

What does breastfeeding mean to me? It means that we have been able to overcome obstacles together. It means I have put so much of myself into nursing to do the best that I can for my daughter. It means that this little person, my baby, is so incredibly important to me that I would do anything possible to give her what I can.

It means that everyday I get to stop whatever I am doing to enjoy and snuggle with my baby. I get to rub her face, calm her, and feed her. I cherish this even more now that she is walking and active. No matter where we are, whether it be in a busy place or sitting on the couch, we get to stop what we are doing, I get to stare into my little one’s eyes and remember why I love her so much.

It means that I can soothe her every need. When she hits her head and signs “milk” I know she wants her mommy to take away her pain.

It means that we both are healthy. She is getting the best nutrition possible and I have been in remission for the first time in 10 years. We both have needed each other. She needs me, and I need her.

It means that someday I will look back at our nursing relationship and miss it. I will miss the snuggles, the certain milk cry, her being close to me, and us being one.
- Ali