Monday, April 18, 2016

Humbled by Motherhood: Breastfeeding the Second Child

 Photo © Pixabay
When I had my second child, I mistakenly thought I knew what I was doing. After all, I had successfully mothered my first-born through his first two years.

Like any odyssey, maternal hubris can only lead to humbling experiences. Finish this sentence: "I'm a good mother because ___________." Whatever you put in that blank will probably not be true for the second child!

"I'm a good mother because I'm good at breastfeeding," was my personal mantra. My son took to breastfeeding right away. I had no problems with milk production. I could have probably fed a small country (Liechtenstein, perhaps?) with the amount of milk I produced.

I breastfed my son everywhere -- at Starbucks, at the zoo, at the park. He was discreetly covered up with a nursing cover, but I would have let it all hang out if I had more bravery to challenge social norms.

When I had my daughter, breastfeeding was not something I worried about. However, she did not latch on, despite my best efforts. I was poked and prodded by nurses, doctors and lactation consultants at the hospital, and the experts finally concluded her mouth was not large enough yet.

I couldn't believe it, I was the queen of breastfeeding! How was this happening? I have a clear memory of my husband feeding her with a dropper in the hospital because she wouldn't take the bottle at first. I felt devastated watching him perform my cherished job, although grateful at the same time.

For the first month, I had to pump and then give her a bottle, which is exhausting when you're not getting any sleep. Eventually, she figured out how to latch on, but I never forgot the humbling experience.

Perhaps it taught me to not rush to judgment when mothers couldn't breastfeed despite their best efforts, or chose not to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. As long as your child is getting enough nutrients, through formula or through breast milk, rest assured you are doing your job as a mother!

Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.