At this point in my career I have seen thousands of mothers and babies. Something that has always struck me that mothers share is that they will be somehow “trapped” by breastfeeding their babies. They will be too close to their babies. They will loose themselves. I remember this feeling as a young mother!
Mothers talk to me about needing schedules, limiting time at the breast, not wanting to teach their babies to fall asleep at the breast, needing to pump so someone else can feed the baby, so that their babies are not controlling them. The baby controlling the mother?
I remember when I was pregnant with my first baby. I had a friend tell me that you are never really prepared to have a baby. I thought he was crazy! I had raised many puppies and kittens, helped raise my much younger sisters, and had been an elementary teacher for years. I WAS prepared. I knew what I was getting into. Ha! My friend was right.
Nothing prepared me for the lack of control that I experienced. It started with the birth that didn’t go as expected. Then the days of my son being in one hospital and me in another. The lack of my breastmilk. My son who wouldn’t latch. My postpartum depression. Never enough sleep. The list goes on and on.
This was very hard for me. I admit that I used to be a terrible control freak. Notice, I said, used to be. I am now proud to say that I am a recovering control freak!
My perfect life before children was really just an illusion anyway. I thought that if I worked hard enough life would be perfect. That I could control my life. Looking back on it I think I was just lucky. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Why? Who knows?
We are in control of so very little in this life. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to appreciate these words:
“Give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed,
The courage to change what can be changed,
and the wisdom to know the one from the other”
I feel that being a mother with breastfeeding is like an opportunity to be meditating all the time! You have to be present, focused, but also let go of whatever else is bothering you (like the cobweb you see in the corner every time you sit down but then forget to do something about it after feeding) or else you will go crazy! Surrendering to the needs of the baby. This won’t last forever. Relax. One day at a time. Repeating, I am here with my baby right now doing something I have chosen to do that is so good for both of us.
Let me tell you a secret. Breastfeeding just prepares you for the rest of your life. Your children are separate creatures who will make their own, painful to watch sometimes, choices. You can’t fix them. You have to breathe and remember what you are in control of, very little. How you react. Yourself.
Sound hard? Oh, yes! But our children are constant opportunities for personal growth! Are you going to lose your mind or surrender to what you can change and what you cannot?
The other day, my intern Amy told me about what she had heard a mother say when asked about what her dreams were for her children. This mother responded, “My children have their own dreams.” Well said.
If we can let go of our illusion of control, you can find true happiness and contentment. Allowing our babies to force us to see this everyday is a gift that keeps on giving. Jump in! Let your babies show you the way.
Breastfeeding is not a trap. Instead, perhaps it is a path to freedom.