Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Naturaleza Moore, M.A., Mount Prospect, IL, USA
Naturaleza Moore Photo by SAMAiMAGING
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, my family went from poster of perfection to order of protection. The stress was compounded by not having income to support a toddler, as well as a breastfeeding, not-quite two-year-old, and myself. As any breastfeeding mother knows, change makes a baby cling even more to the breast for comfort. Below are my lessons learned, my building blocks for breastfeeding through a broken marriage. May you never need them, but find support in them if you do.
Block One: Find Refuge
When your world is turning upside down, get it right side up by fostering the comfort your children and you find in the known ritual of breastfeeding.
As things calmed down on the divorce path, I was forced to relinquish my most precious beings, sometimes up to five days at a time. I could have weaned because of circumstance, but in a situation where there was so little I could control, continuing to breastfeed made the extra effort worthwhile for all of us.
Block Two: Persevere
I had moments when I contemplated weaning cold turkey. After all, no one expects to pull the pump back out regularly for an 18-month-old! I would call my La Leche League group to help me through the dark days, when the tears dripped faster and heavier than the drops of milk. All I wanted was my baby in my arms, not on the opposite end of an irreparable relationship. LLL Leaders reminded me I could count on their support, no matter what I decided. They did remind me, however, that weaning abruptly could bring on depression, something I certainly did not need to exacerbate.
Block Three: Be Creative
Although saddening, I did find encouragement in knowing I was not the only one going through such a situation. Tips such as having a garment that was last worn by my child with me when pumping my milk helped trigger a reluctant milk supply. I remembered the old tricks that working moms know well, like watching a cute video of your child or visualizing your baby breastfeeding. All this helped maintain my milk level and emotional spirits high enough to make it to the next skin-to-skin feeding.
Block Four: Remove Guilt
In the long and torturous process of divorce, no one stops growing. There came a point when I had to assess if I was delaying weaning because of the guilt I felt for the situation we were in or because we were truly not ready, regardless of the situation.
I had done a lot to make breastfeeding work, and we had been through so much change recently. How would I add weaning to the mix? A kind woman reminded me of the importance of the mother being happy and comfortable. Breastfeeding had become a chore for us, and the pleasure was having diminishing returns. She showed me how I might redirect my weaning toddler’s need for me toward enjoying other activities together, such as building with blocks or eating a healthy snack.
Block Five: Nurture Yourself
More easily said than done but, “put the oxygen mask on yourself first.” Our little ones need us to be breathing, functioning, and stable. In changing circumstances. Find new opportunities to connect with activities and groups that protect, enrich, and empower. Helping hands are there for you; reach out for the sake of you and yours.
LLL Leaders reminded me I could count on their support, no matter what I decided.
While observing my little ones playing with age-appropriate Legos, I was in awe of everything they created with the same finite pieces. I resolved that moment to stop fretting over what had happened. I was done crying over the cement-glued “masterpiece” I thought would last forever. My breastfed babies have taught me that perfection lies in the infinite creations I reconstruct out of my scattered pieces. Along the way I’ll lose some pieces but I’ll also add some—like La Leche League—and it is with such hope, faith, family, and friends that I’ll always feel myself, no matter the outcome.
Ladies, embrace your creations, especially the ones you get to feed yourself!