1905 photograph taken by Gertrude Käsebier of Beatrice Baxter Ruyl
Well, I'm getting ready for my fifth child to come into the world. I, like always, am overwhelmed by the love I feel as I ponder why God trusts me as a steward over these precious and beautiful little souls.
I'm grateful for a little... and I do mean little... experience under the belt now. I don't feel like I even know a half of a half of a half about being a good parent, but I definitely have had experiences in the 9 years of being a mother where the spirit has taught me.
My mom, a full fledged Greek American, called me up the other day and asked if I'd heard what the Pope said about breastfeeding. HERE is what he said. What a good man. He truly is a man of God.
You might be gearing up in your head.... OK, here's another one of those crazy breastfeeding people who always has to shove their boob and opinion in people's faces. Please, please, please.... let me state that is NOT my intention! I was just reflecting on the miracle of life and what a privilege it is to be a mother and wanted to share a couple of thoughts.
The reason I wanted to share is because:
1. One day my children will read this.
2. When I had my first child, I would have loved to know more than I did.
I was curious if the church had anything to say about breastfeeding... here's what I found!
An Ensign Q&A from Sept. 1981, found HERE, says,
"Q. What are the pros and cons of breast feeding and bottle feeding?
A. Breast feeding really is better than bottle feeding, but it is important to remember that some women have difficulty breast feeding and such women should not feel inferior as mothers.
Breast milk and feeding has many advantages:
1. Breast milk is an ideally balanced food for baby, and formulas are only an attempt to approximate breast milk.
2. Breast milk is clean. There are no sterilization or storage problems.
3. Breast milk has disease preventing qualities.
4. Iron in breast milk is more easily absorbed and beneficial to the infant.
5. Upset stomach, intestinal difficulties, and allergies are less frequent in breast-fed babies.
6. Breast feeding helps the uterus of the mother to return to its normal state more rapidly.
7. Breast feeding is much more economical and usually more convenient.
8. A bond is formed between mother and child during nursing.
9. Breast feeding has other emotional benefits as well. Mothers who feed their infants often report, “I
feel more like I’m giving my baby what he needs.” “It helps me feel fulfilled as a woman.” “It forces me to relax and take time with my baby. I love breast feeding and I need the rest.” “It makes me feel important because I know the baby needs me.” “It helps me appreciate more the sacrifices my mother made for me.” “I feel closer to my Father in Heaven and the role I play in creation.”
A pediatrician or other physician should be consulted regarding the appropriate formula for the baby who is not breast fed."
Another source, The Latter Day Saint Woman Manuel HERE says,
"Our Heavenly Father made the mother’s body so it could produce milk. This milk is made especially for human babies to drink. It is better for babies than milk from animals. The first fluid that comes from the mother’s breasts after a new baby is born is also important. It contains substances that help protect the baby from diseases for the first few months.... A mother should breast-feed her baby if she can."
I don't usually link to sites that have advertising, however, I really loved the scriptural examples and art used HERE (Women in the Scriptures by Heather Farrell)on mothers in the scriptures who nursed. Did you know that Rebekah had a wet nurse?
HERE is a blog post with a bunch of LDS artwork of women breastfeeding... I thought the one at Temple Square was really interesting! I never knew there was a woman breastfeeding on the Seagull Monument!
I know we all have different perspectives. I'm not telling anyone what to do.
I'm just speaking to that mother with a newborn in her arms who feels overwhelmed, confused, and not sure. I too have been there. I understand what you are going through.
I felt prompted to share my story.
My sweet Christina.
We lived in DC and it was winter and I'd never been so cold in my life! We didn't have a car and all of a sudden I started getting sick. I paid attention in S.H.A.R.E but was a little surprised still, when I got the news. I was in love with her the moment I knew I was pregnant. I felt this extreme blessing and humility. My parents had always been open with me about their struggle with infertility and I developed early on a reverence for the sacredness of motherhood.
I had just graduated and my husband was finishing up his last semester. I remember calling up for health insurance, happy as a lark, and the brutal reality setting in... pregnancy is a beautiful experience, but a pre-existing condition. The joys of worry began. How would we ever pay? What if something went wrong?
Fortunately, we qualified for government help.
And I'm not ashamed to say thank you to all the gracious tax payers who helped us out during that time in our lives!
Christina was born in the fall after we moved back to friendlier weather conditions in the good ol' silver state. The trees were alive, bursting it seemed with the color that our sweet daughter would fill the world with.
When she was born, I was overcome with love but also an insanely intense worry. What had I done!!
I received a little help with nursing at the hospital, but it didn't seem to go that smooth.
In fact, I had developed a small hole that (I know graphic... sorry) had started turning green and oozing. I was told that she needed formula. Over and over. I gave her a little, but I was completely uneducated. My whole life breastfeeding experience was my mom telling me that Greeks breastfed. My Yaya had 10 children. 2 died, but the other 8 she breastfed 2 years each. My mother breastfed me 2 years. And that was it.
I was pretty panicked that I wouldn't be able to feed her, but fortunately I met with a lactation consultant who told me that I just needed to relax.
So I tried my best to relax and what do you know, within a few weeks we were doing good! Christina breastfed for 2 years.
I never pumped any milk or gave her expressed bottles.
I guess I just wanted some leverage when she's a teenager, getting ready for a date... "Your curfew is 9PM and I don't want any lip. I breastfed you 2 years... no one else ever fed you. I was up every moment at the night, there for you. You owe me. 9PM."
I'm hoping this tactic might work?
My sweet Maria.
Oh man. I was ready. I was an EXPERT. We would have no trouble this time around.
And we couldn't latch right.
Maria lost quite a bit of weight until a friend suggested a shield.
I tried that little sucker, and by golly! It worked!! We used it for about 5 weeks and then I was able to get her to feed without it, just trying each time. We breastfed for 2 years, again no expressing bottles or formula.
I also discovered Mastitis. Wow. Really, there are no words.
For me personally, we are in the most blessed circumstances for me to stay home. I know that not everyone is in the same situation.
The way the spirit guided me personally, was that I needed to be the one to feed my child. It was a privilege, and never a sacrifice, to be the one to comfort and provide for my baby... at 1AM, 3AM, 3:20AM, 6AM... etc.
So when Maria starts dating... same story. She owes me.
My perfect Joe.
My first little boy. I had been on Pitocin and dilated to a 9 before I finally got an epidural... the last 10 minutes to push. But hey, I'll take it. At that point I felt a deeper understanding of the Atonement. This pain, this terrible pain that I wasn't prepared for... and yet, God gave me comfort. And that was just a foreshadowing.
I don't know how, but as I look back, I knew. I have videos of me at the hospital just going on and on about how perfect he was. I was overwhelmed and I remember having a blessing that scared me, but I chose to kind of just block out my feelings... I had the direct impression that death would be near.
He was completely healthy.
But, of course, struggled breastfeeding.
We tried the shield, and I truly believe that if I didn't have so many medical professionals trying to shove the bottle down his throat, that our experience would have been more peaceful. But I know that God's plan is perfect and I know that I'll have that much more joy when I do breastfeed him in the resurrection.
He was about 1 oz. under his birth weight when my pediatrician told me that he was "not thriving". That I "didn't have enough milk". That I had to "supplement or he would starve".
I panicked. Completely.
Hormones. Stress. We were 1 month from moving into a new house.
I had no clue how formula worked. Some good friends were very supportive and helped me.
I still insisted on being the only one to feed him.
I tried breastfeeding. I tried pumping. I tried fenugreek.
I pumped every 2 hours for 1 1/2 months. Day and Night.
We were out at a restaurant and everyone was happy. Except for me. I felt so blessed... however, I was feeding my Joe a bottle and it didn't feel right.
I wish I had never listened to my pediatrician. I wish I had never listened to the nurses in the hospital.
One day... I hope you don't mind me sharing this personal day. But one day, it was nap time and Joe was crying. I was pumping, but I didn't want him to cry, so I rocked him on my knee while I pumped. I did that quite a bit. I was trying to just do my best. I was trying to do everything possible that I could for him. I was able to feed him some expressed milk in a bottle. I kissed him and set him down for nap.
And he didn't wake up.
One time, we had gone to a park and it was summer time. A little rain storm kicked up out of nowhere.
I'm so happy that in his short life he got to feel rain on his cheek.
To all my friends that have loved and lost, we will hug each other. We will embrace each other. And we will have one kick a** mother's group in the resurrection. Assuming I make it, because I do use a** on occasion when I'm feeling hormonal.
My sweet Elijah.
Jittery. Nervous. Peaceful. Trusting.
God blessed me. I doubted myself. Maybe I was just a horrible mother.
But every time I thought this, I heard my angel baby's voice.
"No mommy, God just needed me."
So my 2nd born son came. I couldn't eat.
I was so happy. I was so worried.
We were about ready to go home when there was a terrible event. At the Fallon Air Races, a plane had lost control and crashed into crowd. There were a lot of serious injuries.
Not a good sign.
All the doctors and nurses left us for hours. Finally, we were able to go home late at night.
We drove home, a 25 minute drive.
The pitch black sky taunted me.
The tiny lights of homes glimmered hope.
At the hospital Elijah was having trouble latching.
A nurse squeezed me so hard I thought labor was easier.
Another nurse said, "You shouldn't use a shield. That's horrible."
But I did, and he nursed.
I had a new pediatrician this time around.
She was my angel. She knew how scared I was.
And let me just state. I wasn't scared of death.
I know God lives. I know He loves me.
I was just scared that I might have to live without.
Living without is sad.
But you know what she told me... he's gaining weight, who cares if there is a piece of plastic helping him latch? I tried weaning him off the shield, but it didn't happen right away.
We breastfed 8 months with that thing! One day, he grabbed it and threw it and then started breastfeeding "normal" quote on quote.
So in my own personal experience, shields have been life savers. They aren't something horrendous.
Elijah continued to breastfeed until 2. Again, no expressed milk or formula.
However, I probably won't use that against him. I think it'd be weird for a 16 year old boy.
Instead I'll use the time I had to change his diapers after he drank a whole carton of muscle/protein milk at papa's... thank you grandpa... Scarred. For. LIFE.
My Sweet Ella.
3 more weeks and she'll be here.
I'm pretty prepared that breastfeeding will not be easy.
But I know that for me personally it's worth it.
Hebrews 10: 35-36 "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise."
My thoughts today are this, if you don't feel confident, it's OK. God will help. He will help you find the confidence and the patience.
Whether it's breastfeeding or bottle feeding, the spirit will guide you personally.
If you need someone in your corner cheering for you and saying you can do, I'm shouting out
YOU CAN DO IT!