Welcome Carnival of Breastfeeding readers!
Beginnings and Endings is this month's theme and as I write my post it strikes me that the beginning of my breastfeeding experience seems very long ago now.
Way back in March 2000 I became not only a mother for the very first time, but a breastfeeding mother.
Looking back, although I thought I was ready for my new role, I clearly wasn't in one area... I wasn't at all prepared for breastfeeding!
In the beginning, I found breastfeeding in the early days and weeks very challenging. Mainly I suppose this was due to the sleep I lost as a new mother. However, difficult as I found those early days, I also found them remarkably rewarding and the bond I developed with my daughter was the most intense feeling I think I had ever experienced.
(I know many non-breastfeeders who seem to take exception to the idea that breastfeeding mothers develop a very strong bond with their newborns so soon after birth. Many have said they too felt that bond... but it's a medical fact that physiologically, breastfeeding hormones play a huge part in creating that special feeling!)
Looking back I do wish I'd read some books about breastfeeding just so I was prepared for or able to avoid altogether some of the breastfeeding problems I experienced. But to be honest, pregnancy was all I was interested in while I was pregnant and the baby was all I was interested in after the birth... so it was quite a while before I got around to reading anything at all about breastfeeding!
In the intervening years I've had two more children and breastfeeding for a time became a very normal and acceptable part of my life.
When my second baby was born I began attending a local breastfeeding support group, at first for breastfeeding support but then more-so as a mother offering support to more inexperienced mothers. This in turn led to my pregnancy and breastfeeding website, this blog and a social network for mothers. I could never have foreseen any of these things happen way back in March 2000!
Having weaned each of my three children when they became toddlers (another thing I hadn't prepared for!) I realise that what began as a trial run at breastfeeding became so much more for me and my family.
As I sit and reflect on my time as a breastfeeding mother I realise (with a few tears building up behind my eyes) that my own breastfeeding days are now also most probably a part of my past. And I don't know whether to feel glad or sad about that!
(Maybe I'll have another baby in the future but then again, maybe I won't. Right now my focus is firmly on helping other women who want to breastfeed or who are having some problems with it.)
In the beginning I wasn't really prepared for breastfeeding. Now I'm not really prepared for the end of it.
I guess other things will happen instead in my children's lives that will take my focus off breastfeeding such as exams, school events, growing up, first dates (a long way off yet I hope!) and the such like.
But one thing will always remain constant and that is the everlasting bond I feel with all three of my children, due in large part to breastfeeding.
These days I get more sleep. These days my focus is changing. My life is moving on and so is theirs. Our breastfeeding relationships may have come to an end, but my role as their mother never will...
Don't forget to check out the following Beginnings and Endings Carnival posts from our regular participants and guest bloggers (Updated as they become available!):
How to Be a Badass Dad - A father shares his thoughts on the important role dad's play when their partner is breastfeeding.
Nature Moms - Tiffany discusses her disappointment at stopping breastfeeding her first child before she was ready to due to returning to work and her second child because of cancer. She also reviews the book Mama Knows Breast.
Leche Baby - discusses the benefits of breastfeeding beyond a year and offers some ideas on weaning a toddler.
Mama Knows Breast - Andi's sister in law shares the difficulties she encountered due to a low milk supply, the lack of professional support she received and her experience of supplementing breastfeeds with formula.
Adventures of Pip and Squeak - looks at looks at how complicated the breastfeeding relationship can be and considers the difficulties encountered when weaning a toddler.
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog - Using the experience of weaning her son, Tanya discusses the importance of gently pushing your child toward independence once you sense they are ready for it.
Crunchy Domestic Goddess - Amy looks back at inauspicious breastfeeding beginnings!
Tales of Life with a Girl on the Go - Elizabeth tells how breastfeeding support from La Leche League armed her with lots of practical breastfeeding information and showed her some breastfeeding positions she could try out. She also recommends some books she found useful.
Breastfeeding 123 - Angela discusses weaning a breastfed baby during pregnancy.