I was only 19 when our first daughter Stephanie was born. It was 1971 and my husband was in college at the University of Arkansas. I knew nothing about babies, I’d never even babysat so taking care of a newborn was going to be a challenge. But I was up for the challenge and despite the fact that we didn’t have “Two Nickles to Rub Together,“ we were excited about her birth!
Dr. Brown was a wise old doctor who had cared for hundreds of Mom’s to Be in his 40+ year practice. His office was only a half block from our apartment so I would walk to my monthly visit. He was kind and helpful, guiding me to the classes that would help me to become a good Mother. I took one on newborn care and another on breastfeeding. I knew that I wanted to breastfeed even though my Mom hadn’t with me or my brother. My Aunt Joy was the strong suit here. I had seen her effortlessly breastfeed her two sons and after reading in my paperback copy of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Childcare, I knew that sterilizing bottles and mixing formula was too complicated for me.
Looking back I’m amazed that I didn’t have doubts about my ability to breastfeed. In the 1970’s few women were, it was passé…old fashioned. I read, and re-read every book available on the subject. If I had been older and wiser some questions would have popped into my head…
“What if my milk doesn’t come in?”
“What if the baby doesn’t latch on?”
“I’m worried the baby is not going to like my milk. What do I do?”
After Stephanie was born, I had the initial sore nipples, the first few weeks of nursing I felt like they were going to fall off! But they didn’t and Aunt Joy wisely told me to moisturize between feedings. The weeks flew by and at 6 weeks Stephanie was sleeping through the night, I was getting enough rest to feel like a human again. Breastfeeding was a normal part of my life.
I loved the closeness, that feeling of being so needed. No matter how busy our life was, or how broke we were…when I sat down to nurse her it was ok, we were going to make it. She ate and she grew and I felt like I could do anything now. I am Mother, hear me roar!