Today marks one year of breastfeeding. Obviously, under the circumstances, the NICU needed to closely monitor his intake, so he got special-formula-fortified breastmilk that I pumped around the clock for him via feeding tube into his stomach. But on this morning a year ago, while I was holding him, he lifted his head up out of my arms as though he were trying to latch on. The nurses still weren’t sure he was ready to nurse but they let me come back in the afternoon–after the lactation consultant arrived–to “try.” (Their words, not mine.) And he did great. Thankfully we never had any problems at all.
I’m proud of being able to nurse my son. Not proud in an “I’m a better mother” sort of way–not at all. It has very little to do with me; any number of things could’ve prevented successful breastfeeding. He came so early that I was probably (quietly) expected to have low supply, he wasn’t chronologically supposed to be able to latch, breathe, and swallow at the same time yet, he still got bottles for the first week at home because they would only let me nurse twice a day at first and that could’ve confused him, or other issues related to the c-section could’ve gotten in the way. But none of them did, and I’m grateful to be able to have such a positive experience with it. I wish it were like this for everyone. It’s been one of my favorite parts of motherhood.
I know I’ve been talking a lot lately about the NICU and what we were doing a year ago. While I sit in the glider in his room, I frequently remember how I would sit next to his incubator in that small leather hospital glider and think about someday being able to sit and rock him for however long I wanted. I do not take it for granted. I think that’s one reason I go against the conventional wisdom about rocking a baby to sleep. When we’re cuddled up in that glider in his darkened room, me patting his bottom and him patting my chest, that’s the image I had in my head a year ago.