I have decided that I am a successful breastfeeding mother. I am gauging this not by the number of children I have breastfed, nor how long I did it for. But rather by hearing my son's reaction to a bit of a to do about public breastfeeding.
A few months back, there was a hue and cry about a local county making public breastfeeding over the age of two illegal. Interestingly, putting it on par with strip club as far as encouraging crime rates and public nudity. There was a lot of public ruckus, with nurse-ins and discussions on the radio. My 12 year old son turns and says to me, "Why on earth would they make giving babies their baby-snacks against the law? That seems mean to the babies."
I never hid nor flaunted my breastfeeding his sisters. I just did it. He was quite fascinated by the event when he was small during Elise's babyhood. He asked a lot of questions. By Amelia, it was just what you did. By Charlotte, he would drag her in to me, citing, "She is not happy. She needs baby snacks."
I have been increasingly saddened by the public sexualizing of breastfeeding when it should be the most natural of things, especially on the heels of our children being sexualized by TV and the public in general. I was charmed by the blog post of one of my dear bloggy friends about Breastfeeding in the Sistine Chapel, really, she says it so beautifully, I am going to leave that pretty much be.
Breastfeeding is not always easy. Not even for every child born to one mother. Gabriel was the easiest child in the world to breastfeed, no massive pain, no awkward learning curve. Not to say there were not bumps in the road, mastitis, pumping when I had to return to school, his abrupt refusal to nurse when he discovered how very easy bottle nipples were for little piglet babies... Elise had a long battle with breastfeeding that we ultimately won. Amelia was a bi-polar nursling who would go on bottle benders followed by needing the real deal with monthly switch-ups for a very long year. Charlotte has loved breastfeeding like no child I have ever known....she had a painful latch and whole months of awfulness, but it nourishes not just her body, but her entire soul. My sister-in-law prefers to call it nursing, and for Charlotte that is supremely more accurate. I've never known a more passionate proponent of breastfeeding with fabulous manners, Charlotte, that is.
I just didn't want this year's Breastfeeding Awareness to pass without a nod to the natural beauty and joy that it embodies...and my pride that my son, at twelve, is protective of the innate balm nursing is to a baby. Because whether or not a mother gets support from her loved ones, is a huge indication of her success. (On a tangent, Muslim Law requires mothers to attempt to nurse a minimum of 2 years. Yet, even if their god tells them to, the likelihood of success [and therefore infant mortality rates!!]still weighs heavily on public and familial support. This was crazy fascinating...)
So Happy Breastfeeding. Be supportive of mothers. Be supportive of babies. They are only little for so long. Don't be in a rush to make them grow up. They always do....whether you're ready or not....