When I was growing up, La Leche League was a household term. The notion of breastfeeding was an obvious assumption passed on through osmosis from mother to child. So when my first little of bundle of joy came along, four years after my wedding, I took it for granted that I would breastfeed.
I still remember that first night in the hospital with my precious son. I thought the nursing wasn’t going well because he was tired from his trip into the world, or I was tired because of our 25-hour labor, so I didn’t worry when it wasn’t smooth.
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By the time I got home from the hospital, I thought I’d have it figured out. A few days passed and still not too much luck. He was hungry and I was more exhausted than I had ever been. The funny thing is I was too inexperienced and exhausted to even know I was a nursing failure. I just thought he was kvetchy and it was the sort of thing that took some time to get the hang of.
I’ll tell you one thing—none of the 25 books on labor and delivery prepared me for this little bit of new motherhood. I called a lactation consultant who came highly recommended. She gave me some pointers. I don’t remember much else about the conversation except at one point she made this weird comment when I told her I planned to breastfeed until my son was 2.
“I promise you that won’t happen,” she said. “And if it does, you call me and let me know.”
Two years later, if I had remembered her number, I could have picked up the phone and said, “Told you so.”
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Once we figured out how to nurse, I was a natural, mainly because I had been brainwashed on the issue practically from birth. I had even been encouraged to choose a career that would allow me to work from home so I could nurse my babies. I don’t know if it was chance or providence, but either way I became a writer and thus have been working from home since my kids were born.
Now, I have been blessed with three little people. My husband looks at me at least once a day and asks, “How do you get anything done? They are so cute and they need so much.” I always give him the same reply—it’s hard, but I manage.
I manage slowly, much more slowly than other women, I assume. Because my day goes like this:
-Yoga with kids
-Give them breakfast and get the 7 and 4-year-old out the door
-Clean up the house a bit and then look down into the big blue eyes of my 14-month-old who says, “na na,” and I know what that means, because that’s the word I used to use for it when I was her age.
-Return to my bedroom less than two hours after waking up and nurse for a good while.
-Then I work as much as I can. And then we nurse some more.
Now my youngest is big already and eats solids as well, so it isn’t as demanding as nursing a newborn, but the schedule isn’t so different. Nurse a little, work a little, nurse a little, work a little. And so on.
My natural work style has always been to sit down, focus on a project, and not get up until it is done, even if that’s a week later. Well, you can imagine motherhood and nursing has certainly changed all of that. Yes, sometimes I am in the zone and a crying baby pleading her desperate case for milk draws me out of it. But that’s OK. That’s what I signed up for when I decided to have children while still trying to get work done.
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Though it can be challenging to manage this schedule, and often I feel like things take so much longer than they should—especially when the babies are little and need more frequent feedings—for me, and I believe my babies, it’s so worth it.
I built my life around this decision, and I am grateful everyday that I have been blessed to make this family value a reality for a second generation.