Monday, February 22, 2010

A Strange Marriage of Ideas

I have recently found myself in a bit of a conundrum; how do I pull two seemingly disparate passions of mine into one cohesive, integral whole?

My first passion is midwifery, breastfeeding and co-sleeping/sleep sharing.  After I gave birth to my first child, which ended in an emergency C-section, I determined that I wouldn't go into another pregnancy, labor and delivery as blindly as I did the first.  Because adoption was a serious consideration for my first child, I willfully under-educated myself as to what labor and delivery would be like.  I reasoned that women had been having babies for longer than recorded history, so mine will know what to do when the time came.  While I still believe this, I didn't realize at the time that my handicap was the fact that I didn't have a community of women who could give me the knowledge of what to expect, and how to help my body do what it needed to do.  My ignorance caused me to shoot myself in the foot, as ignorance usually will.

When I became pregnant with my second child, I knew I wanted to nurse, and I knew I wanted to have this baby naturally.  For me, one step naturally lead to another.  I contacted my local Le Leche League leader and found that she had just finished her training as a Husband Coached Childbirth (also known as The Bradley Method for Dr. Bradley, the techniques progenitor) instructor and was seeking clients for her first class.  I attended a LLL meeting when I was about 6 months pregnant with my daughter and had my eyes open for the first time.  I was an immediate convert to the beautiful ways of breastfeeding and gently welcoming a child into the world.

And what a world it is!  I credit The Bradley Method for giving my children the best possible entrance into the world, and Le Leche League for supporting breastfeeding exclusively.  While I see breastfeeding as being the best nutrition for a human child (how many babies do YOU see crawling up to a COW to nurse?), studies have show the importance of  mother's milk, and the necessary touching that accompanies nursing, for the vital growth and development of the infant brain.  While I would never call my daughter developmentally delayed, she is behind the curve as far as her peers go in her academic pursuits.  I shudder and cringe to think what may have happened had I been a lazy mother and just propped a bottle in my daughter's mouth and left her in her car seat to feed.  (A sight which enraged me even before becoming pregnant.)

I learned from Darlene and the Le Leche League that it's ok to sleep with your child; you're more in tune with your child and their needs.  While it takes a little time to coordinate, eventually mother and child can learn to nurse laying down, and eventually sleep through night time nursing.  For the first 6 weeks of my daughter's life, I woke up to her needs to nurse, but we practiced nursing laying down.  Finally it just clicked and we began to happily sleep through night time feedings.  That's not to say she didn't breastfeed at night; she did.  We just became so in tune with each other, that it became second nature to maneuver ourselves into just the right position that falling back asleep was the next logical step.

Call me smug, but I always laugh to myself when I hear new parents complain about the night time feedings.  If they only knew how hard they were making it on themselves, they would become fans of nursing and sleep sharing fairly quickly, I think. 

However, it was during the pregnancy of my youngest child that I finally figured out "what I wanted to do when I grew up" (I was 28, by the way).  I wanted to become a midwife.  I wanted to share with other women, expectant mothers, the joy and wonder of bringing a child into the world under her own power, free of hospitals, law suit phobic doctors, and people who thought labor and delivery were medical diseases to be managed instead of natural processes to be celebrated.

My second passion, as anyone already familiar with my blog will know, is the Adoptee Rights Movement and the Family Preservation Movement.  Just read the post prior to this one and I think my positions are fairly clear, and I don't necessarily need to enumerate them again.

Maybe someone reading this will automatically jump to where I did only today, and if you do, bravo, you're smarter than I am (no, for once, I'm NOT being sarcastic).  However, the marriage of these two passions seemed like an unlikely pairing in my head for a while.  Then, during a musing of "if I knew then what I know now", I came upon the solution to my problem.  One of the biggest reasons I caved to the pressure to give my first son up for adoption was financial.  Neither my adoptive parents, nor my boyfriend's parents were willing to help out financially with raising our son.  Both sets of parents had, independent of each other, the same reply, "We've raised our children and we're not interested in raising anymore".  My boyfriend was the only one working between the two of us at that point, and we didn't have the money for formula, diapers, a crib, changing table, etc, et al.  All the traditional accoutrements found in a nursery were beyond our financial capability.  No one ever said to me before my son was born that I could save a great deal of money with simply breastfeeding him.  No one told me that I could share sleep with my son, negating the need for a crib.  No one told me that cloth diapers could save me expenses over disposable diapers.  Those simple things could have saved us thousands of dollars and put us in a better position to keep our son.  If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn't have inflicted the primal wound on my first son.


As to how I utilize this knowledge, this new marriage of my passions, I have yet to fully figure out.  I suppose my first step will be posting this blog.  I'll go from there as to how I can bring these strange companions in my head to a useful, helpful way.  Ultimately, I suppose I would like to help young, financially challenged women to see these alternatives that no one else is willing to tell them about.  If I can help just one person keep their child then I'll know that all the pain and sacrifice I've lived through isn't in vain.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think your interests are mutually exclusive. As an adoptee I found myself drawn to breastfeeding and co-sleeping. I wanted the best for my children and I wanted the opportunity to bond with them as much as possible, which I know stems from the loss of my own mother. Both of my kids nursed until they were about 2 1/2 years old. It was a wonderful experience. And I totally agree about nighttime feedings... co-sleeping made it SO much easier and once we got into the pattern it was easy to nurse and go back to sleep.

    I think, if more women were encouraged to breastfeed and co-sleep, it would indeed help them support their families. We have been so educated into bottle-feeding and cribs and all the rest of the parent paraphernalia that really isn't necessary. I admire you for combining your passions in a way that will help women and families.