Every mother has a unique pregnancy and breastfeeding story. Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to deepen my involvement with breastfeeding mothers, former breastfeeding moms and non- breastfeeding moms. The most enjoyable, rewarding development has been the gift of hearing the intimate memories of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that moms choose to share with me. Here is one that you might relate you.
Tracei is a self-proclaimed and mom-verified “Momminista”. She is a modern working mother, entirely devoted to supporting her son’s growth into a happy, self-motivated, impactful gentleman. In knowing her personally, I have experienced her ability to break barriers between new moms. She is blessed with a gift for bringing like-minded families and children together, and she has inspired the development of many new friendships between awesome mothers.
Tracei shared with me her experience, or lack of experience, with breastfeeding. As she recounted her story I could sense the lingering feelings of loss and almost mourning of what should have been her breastfeeding journey. It became clear that she felt that she missed one of the most defining motherhood experiences, and she was still (rightfully) unhappy about it.
I was struck once again by this recurring theme, this forced acknowledgement of the awesome and absolute challenges inherent in becoming the definition of “Mother”. We can all relate to the obstacles we face when the perception of what motherhood is becomes out of sync with the reality we actually face.
Tracei shared, “I had so many expectations about how my pregnancy was going to go, and how wonderful it was going to be to breastfeed my son. Then all of a sudden I ended up with an emergency c-section, a full term baby in an incubator for low blood sugar, and to top it all off, my milk just never came in…I waited and waited, but it never did”.
What do you say to a woman that missed that desired opportunity to breastfeed their child? How do you offer comfort when you are keenly aware of times along your motherhood journey that you have felt precisely the same way...cheated?
Sometimes, you just have to listen and say nothing. Because hidden back there, behind the venting and disappointment about the missed opportunity to nurse her son, behind the sentences of the story, there is the ultimate truth that this mom was so looking forward to the possibilities of connecting with her baby, that she had dreamed about them before he was even born. She was yearning for those moments, patiently waiting for their arrival. What love. How beautiful is that?
So, even though she did not have those particular moments, and even though some memories may be bittersweet, she is still transformed from Tracei, to mom. She still continues to be the mom her bright and driven son needs. She still continues to be his “food chain”, his strength, his teacher, his cheerleader, his provider, even when the individual experiences don’t turn out the way she imagined they would. And in the end, that’s is the hallmark sign of a great, amazing Mother.