Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery

Last night after the bath I helped Anna and Holly into their pajamas and sent them to wait for me in the bed while I got Jasmine into a diaper. When I came in they were both laying down, shirts up, nursing their babies. In fact, they were both on their left sides, exactly how I always lay with Jasmine when I put her to sleep at night.

This is not the first time that either of them has pretended to nurse their babies, but the timing and the way they were doing it together made it so special. I said, "Oh you beautiful girls. You make my heart sing." And Holly said, "I have lots of babies, so I know how to feed them myself. You don't have to help me."

Holly's declaration was in response to a call I had received right after supper from a mommy of a 2 1/2 week old baby who wasn't sure if she had an adequate milk supply. As a La Leche League Leader, I get 1-2 calls per week from mothers looking for support. They get my name and number from the LLLC website. Each time someone calls for breastfeeding support I tell the girls "Please be patient for a few minutes while I help a mommy learn how to feed her baby." (Sometimes they are not able to be patient and I have to phone the mommy back in a little while.)

I bring the girls to our monthly La Leche League meetings, so they are not only used to seeing me help other mommies, they are also used to seeing babies of all sizes being breastfed. Last night the 'babies' the girls chose to breastfeed were not even newborn-looking dolls: Anna was nursing a Disney princess doll and Holly was nursing Dora the Explorer.

I have been leading meetings and helping mommies by phone since 2006. I don't always feel completely aligned with the philosophies of the LLL organization, but I really enjoy the mommy-to-mommy support. The teacher in me needs to teach, and I feel privileged to be helping the next generation of Canadians grow up healthier by virtue of having been breastfed. I wish I could do more teaching about parenting skills at the meetings but that is more outside the scope of the organization. Perhaps someday I will be able to attain some type of certification as a parenting coach and use my skills to make some money while helping parents. Not too sure about that........but I do know that I am good at teaching, so maybe I am tapping into my authentic self when I am educating other mommies on how to make breastfeeding part of their parenting style, and not just a feeding choice.

What really thrills me about my children attending LLL meetings is that they will grow up with the attitude that breastfeeding is the normal way to feed babies. For them it will not be a choice, it will be a given. I credit my own mother with raising me to see breastfeeding as normal, as she was breastfeeding her babies during an era when most doctors knew nothing of the benefits of breast milk. In fact, when her first baby was off the chart for his rapid growth by 4 months old, the doctor told he couldn't possibly be getting enough breast milk and she should start him on cereal. Then her next baby was petite and slower to gain weight, so the same doctor told her that the baby couldn't possibly be getting enough breastmilk and she should start her on cereal. Brilliant man. What a thinker.

By the time I was born my mom had found La Leche League and she was able to nurse me until past my third birthday, and my younger brother was nursed at least as long. Most of the women I meet who are of my generation were not breastfed at all, and I often wonder if their stories of infertility and difficult pregnancies and births are a result of missing out on the oh-so-important benefits of human milk. So I credit my mother for not just helping to normalize breastfeeding in a formula feeding culture, but also for laying the foundation of my excellent overall health, outstanding fertility, healthy pregnancies and births and ease of weight loss after pregnancy, not to mention making me the confident, joyful mother that I am today!!

Since today just happens to be my mother's birthday, I send her the biggest THANKYOU for her courage to defy the medical establishment of the day by following her heart and practising extended breastfeeding and for pretty much being the strongest woman I know. Thanks, Mom. I love you.

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