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Breastfeeding Success!! ~ Being Complete
 by Berneda Wolfe

I sit here listening to the rain softly drizzling on the tin roof. I often like to close my eyes and remember the good times in my life. No matter what I think about, it always includes my baby. My world surrounds him. Today, I lay my head back and remember all my favorite memories.

It was three o'clock in the morning, when I was awakened by the nurse. In her arms was the tiniest little person I had ever seen. At that moment, I remembered he was mine. I still hadn't quite come to realize that I was a mother. She said, "Ethan is hungry," as she handed him to me. Immediately I became nervous. I had decided to breastfeed my baby before I even became pregnant. It had been a proven fact that breastmilk is the best for babies so it was not even a choice for me. I had never done it before, and this little life depended on me and only me.

The nurse helped me to get positioned so that I didn't smother him. I was monstrous compared to his tiny little mouth. He couldn't latch on nor did he seem to be interested in eating. I kept trying. What I had the most trouble with was that he kept wanted to go to sleep. I struggled trying to keep him awake. I would undress him so that he wouldn't be so warm and comfortable, but the skin to skin contact made it even worse. He loved being close to me.

I was petrified to bring him home. He was so helpless, and I was a first time mother who didn't have a clue. The first few days I didn't think that I was ever going to get any sleep. He didn't have trouble sleeping. I was told by his pediatrician to wake him so that he wouldn't sleep past his feeding times except at night. So, when it came time to nurse him, I would fight with him to try to keep him awake. He still could not latch on. After about an hour of trying, we both were so exhausted and we would call it quits for awhile.

After a few days, my milk came in. I was engorged and in extreme pain. I asked the doctor what I could do to take the pain away, and she said to get the milk out. I couldn't get him to latch on as effectively as I needed, so I decided to pump my milk out. I put it in bottles so that he could drink it that way. He wouldn't have to work so hard for it. After a week or so I was relieved in a way and also disappointed in myself. I had dreamed of nursing my baby. It was so important to me. I wanted to feel the closeness that a nursing mother feels.

I kept trying to get him to latch on. I would try about once a week. When he was about a month old, it wasn't so important to me, or so I thought. I was happy that I was able to give him my milk, but deep down inside I felt like a failure. I thought that I was starting his life off wrong. Even though he was getting the best nourishment possible, I was still depriving him of the bonding that we could have. I tried to push those feelings away so that I wouldn't dwell on them everyday. I decided that I wouldn't try to get him to latch on anymore. He was a month old, and he had already gotten used to not having to work for his food. If he hadn't been able to do it yet, he never would.

When we were out in public, it really bothered me when I had to feed him. I didn't want anyone to see him drinking from a bottle. "What kind of mother doesn't breastfeed," they would say. I know now it was my guilt that was saying that. At church, I would say something in regards to having to pump out my milk for him. I didn't want anyone to think that he was drinking formula. I am very prejudiced against it. It's the "imitation cheese." I still thought people believed that I was lying. "How can she pump for all these weeks" I was becoming paranoid.

At night, I would dream of nursing Ethan. They were the most peaceful dreams I had ever had. I would hold him and rock him. He would look up at me with those deep blue eyes and just stare into mine. I wondered what he was thinking. He fit in my arms like a hand in a glove. When I would wake, for a moment I still had the feeling of contentment, but it all came crashing down. I would realize that I was no longer in joy-land. I would always have trouble getting back to sleep after that. It would take hours and sometimes it was the following night that I finally could find ease on the pillow.

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If someone were to ask me, "why is it so important to you for Ethan to breastfeed?", I would not have been able to give them an answer. All I know is that it was a motherly instinct deep inside that has to be fulfilled. If I couldn't breastfeed my child, I have failed. When he was seven weeks old, I had given up on that fact. "Ethan will not nurse," I would tell myself over and over again.

Ethan hadn't quite started sleeping all night. He would wake up quite a few times. One night, he had fallen asleep at nine o'clock and he didn't wake up until six o'clock the next morning. All night long, I kept checking on him. I was greatly worried. I wasn't used to so much time without having to do some type of child care. When he woke up, he was very hungry. He screamed for his milk like he had never done before. I got up and started for the kitchen. I sleepily found the milk with the oldest date and put it in the bottle warmer. It would take about five minutes. I decided to change his diaper. I went to his room and his Daddy was already in the process. Ray worked nights and didn't get off work until five in the morning, so I didn't expect him to get up to help with the baby until at least noon. This morning he felt that he needed to get up. He dazed through a diaper change and handed Ethan to me. I started back into the kitchen and Ray said, "Why don't you try to nurse him?" That was an idea that I thought I'd never again consider, but now it was back in an instant. I didn't know if I should feel thrilled or downhearted. I thought to myself, "what if . . .?"

Once again, we went to the rocking chair. Weeks ago we spent so many frustrating hours in this same chair. I started to get a little reluctant. I thought to myself, "why bother?" I paused for a moment, and I asked God to help us through this difficult time. I asked him to help us to understand whatever the outcome was. I lifted my shirt and put Ethan to my breast. I know that this instant in my existence was the most tender moment I had ever felt or ever would. He latched on like he had been nursing from me all along. I was waiting to wake up. While I watched those eyes watching me, I cried so many delightful tears that I thought I would drown. I am his mother, and I am nourishing him with my body and only my body. I thanked God with all of my heart. Now, I felt that I didn't deserve such a wonderful feeling. It was a feeling of perfection. After twenty-one years of life, I was complete. Ethan is still nursing today (two years old), but Ethan can nurse because of God Almighty and his Daddy's faith in me.

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