Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Couldn't Not

I sense that I might crack wide open if the love for my boys were one bit greater.  The sight and feeling of their hands in mine or each others. When their little fingers and paws are cruising my hair,neck, ears, or arms while nursing or holding.  Their buttery smooth bellies, sweet smelling necks and juicy ham hock thighs. The distinct sounds of their laughter, their cries and sounds of their babble, slapping footsteps, crawling, crunching, breathing, even the sound of them pooting.

I am deeply moved by the connections and communications that they initiate at each stage of their little lives. I do anything for them, to help them, to inspire their confidence, to provide hope and safety, to give them joy and honor.  My greatest wish is that they feel good about themselves and discover what they like and who they will be.  This mother in me is what I treasure most.  For it came against the odds and has delivered rewards greater than I could have imagined.

I spent 35 years cultivating my  squeamishness  over breastfeeding and my commitment to NOT EVER doing it. Before delivery of our first son, I cried regularly over how I could be so repelled by the by something allegedly so sweet and generous and beneficial.  Attending classes on breastfeeding,  I hoped that the information would inspire the instinct.  

I needed a mother so badly in those times.  I needed a mom who valued that sort of tenderness and who would hold me and encourage me. I am blessed with friends and a husband who did and still I longed for a mom during a miserable pregnancy rooted in absolute certainty that I would not be good enough or giving enough.   I felt  unforgivably narrow and immature for an instinct to deny my baby what I could very well offer, not comfortably, but well.   While breastfeeding and pregnancy were uncomfortable to say the least, they were uncomplicated and rewarding.  I feel similarly  about staying home with these boys.  These are my achievements.

I accomplish little in the ways of intellect or domesticity as I stay home to raise them.  Accomplishments???  Productivity??  Well, I consider my courage to attempt a second and equally uncomfortable pregnancy even after the first when I vowed "never again" quite an accomplishment.  And..... to have traversed the distorted thinking and brokenness that fueled my commitment to bottle feeding .  And....staying home with babies....also something I always said I NEVER wanted to do.

I wouldn't trade these past 4 years for anything.  They have challenged everything I have known and experienced  with regards to love and sacrifice.   I chose and endured 18 months of pregnancy and morning sickness  and 22 months of breastfeeding.  To choose what was entirely uncomfortable, 24/7  for as many years as necessary, purely for the benefit of another, allowed me to redefine myself.  I am proud.   I love.  That's right.  I love.

I found breastfeeding, ironically, to be breathtakingly sweet: the most exclusive and precious connection.  And when my boys are in pain or distress, my breasts get that achy, "ooh I need to nurse you feeling".  I genuinely want to nurse and comfort them in the way that I cringe to say it;  "That only the breast could".

Please note, for those of you who don't know me.  I totally believe in formula and the bottle and feeding your child whatever way works.  I am just sayin' that breastfeeding blew my mind and heart away.   And for me, I would have missed out if I had given in to my very non-maternal instincts.  I do not chant "breast is best" ever.  Its just unbelievable  that I did it and celebrate it.

(I still prefer to avoid sight of the actual nipple entering or exiting baby's mouth.  I always requested friends and even Andy avert their eyes for the mount and dismount.  I am vibed out by children able to help themselves or use words to request the breast.  And even after nursing both my children almost to their first birthdays, I still think its kind of gross-ish to see.) 

After meeting Ernie, I had to breast feed him.  I couldn't not.  I had to stay home with him.  I couldn't not.  For Ernie, it seemed right that he should get to be a brother.  Again, I couldn't not do it.  Pregnancy sucked. Having only one is easy and Oh god, what if we had a girl?  (Terrified by thought of another mother daughter experience.)  AND I COULDN'T NOT DO IT.

It is profoundly satisfying to choose what is best for my family.  Perhaps this comes easily for someone already lacking a sense of self.

I suspect those of  my mother's family might attribute any success I have as a parent to the luck of having 2 easy children.  Both of my boys require a lot.  (There are issues with each of the boys that I am unwilling to share for fear that the information will one day haunt them in ways that could be prevented.)  Yes, they are happy and you know what, I will take credit for raising 2 boys who feel very good about themselves, each other and their parents. Two boys who will grow up knowing that what matters to them is important to us.  


  1. Very touching and honest. I always figured if I could breast feed I would but no big deal if I couldn't. I was very wrong, I was determined to breastfeed and I did.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Beautiful and I can very much identify.


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