1. You can't please all of the people all of the time. Whether you are still breastfeeding your three-year-old, or you did not breastfeed at all (for whatever reason), someone is disappointed with your decision. And that person(s) will surely share their disappointment with you, even though it is completely inappropriate for them to do so. Maybe it will be a friend who says, "Wow, you are still breastfeeding him at nine- months?" Or a pediatrician who comments, "Oh, so you didn't keep going until twelve months? That's too bad." As hard as it was for me, I learned that I didn't have to defend my informed and thoughtful decisions to other people. And this skill has actually come in quite handy in all sorts of contexts in my life.
2. Some things you have to do alone. I don't mean to suggest that it isn't worth the time to read the books, go to the training, and get as prepared as you can when you are planning on breastfeeding. But at 4:00 a.m., breastfeeding really just comes down to you, your boobs, and your babe. Sure, your partner can support you (although in retrospect, it probably was not necessary to make my husband attend the "How to Breastfeed" seminar with me). And the twenty minutes with the lactation consultant before I brought my first baby home was well-spent, if only for the big boost of confidence it gave me. But if you are going to make breastfeeding work, you eventually have to figure out how to do it yourself. Also a good lesson.
3. Cows are mommies too. There is something very primal about the experience of breastfeeding that reminded me that all sorts of mothers have done this for their young forever. The first time I saw myself in the mirror while my breast pump was working its magic, I thought,"I feel like I have seen this before . . . happening to a cow at the 'Farm in the Zoo' exhibit." In short, some aspects of "mommying" aren't always pretty, but you do what you have to do for your babes, just like all sorts of mothers have done since the beginning of time.
4. I embrace my saggy breasts (and my lumpy tummy too). My body has worked hard for my two babes, and I wear the physical effects proudly. On occasion, I miss my flat stomach and wonder how much a tummy-tuck would cost. But then I realize that I would not want to change anything about my mothering experience - even the not-so-cute parts. I am proud of my very imperfect body for all that it has endured and provided for my little ones. I love the time we spent together when they nursed. So who cares if my boobs are a little droopy?
5. Moms have millions of best friends. Being a mother can be a great equalizer. Certainly the experience of mothering is different for everyone. But I really believe that there is a universal sameness to motherhood that connects women. I have had lengthy conversations with near strangers about mastitis infections. Women whose names I don't even know have shared graphic details from their birth experiences with me. When another mothers says, "I know how you feel," she means it. We are all lucky to be members of this club.
Cross-posted at Chicago Moms Blog.
For more perspectives on breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding), check out what other mamas are saying at the Chicago Moms Blog, Silicon Valley Moms Blog, DC Metro Moms Blog, and the New York City Moms Blog.
Okay, so I have read through many, many of the posts now, and this one is the must read. Funny, funny.