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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes


My Mother Before Me Features
Erin Zohrehie, Reading, UK, originally of Dumont, New Jersey, USA
Photo: Cassie Ann Creations

 

Sadly, in December of 2010, my mother’s Alzheimer’s had progressed to the point where it was impossible for any one person to care for her. I flew over to the US to help out, and we found a lovely nursing home for her to reside. When I returned, I brought with me a couple of my mother’s personal items, one of which was a third edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

MothersStories_MyMotherBeforeMe_Erinphoto-1

Erin, Hazel, & Memare with Christie Rodriguez’ third edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

This handbook for La Leche League is currently in its eighth edition. I took the book as a keepsake, and also in anticipation of my second child’s birth. Breastfeeding first time around had proved to be more difficult than I had ever anticipated, and maybe my mom’s beloved handbook would prove useful. Life went on, and the book was opened at one point, scanned and put on the shelf. Months passed, I gave birth to Hazel, started donating breast milk to Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in London, for the second time, and then suddenly in early April mom collapsed. Thankfully, I was able to return to the States to be at her side with Hazel, the tender age of seven weeks, and my older daughter, Memare, aged three. Mom had developed a pulmonary embolism and spent ten days in the hospital, first in intensive care, then her last few hours in hospice care, where she passed away very peacefully.

 

My mom, Christie Rodriguez, leaves a bit of a legacy behind her. She was known by my extended family as the “marathon breastfeeder.” Keenly aware of the benefits to both mother and baby, she breastfed  her three children way into our toddler years. During this time she was a La Leche League Leader and helped encourage and guide numerous women to provide the best food for their babies. I grew up in a home in Dumont, New Jersey that once a month was filled with moms talking about their concerns while breastfeeding their babies. Mom led meetings for ten years until the early 1980s. Even after she stopped to devote more time to her family, she would receive the occasional phone call from a new mommy asking for support. She was known in the community as a helper of breastfeeding moms. Like a fly on the wall, I would listen in. I was fascinated by grown-up mommy life, and couldn’t wait until I too would be a mom one day.

 

Returning home after mom’s memorial, I prayed that the book was still on my bookshelf and had not been tossed in a bag for the charity shop. This book meant more to me now than I had ever imagined it might. To my relief I had in fact kept it, and opening it again I found that it had been inscribed, and I assumed it was mom’s La Leche League group that had done so.

Recently I joined La Leche League myself and promptly borrowed from my group’s library the eighth edition copy. I am currently considering, like my mother before me, a long-term plan of becoming a lactation consultant or becoming more involved in milk banking. And having both copies of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding in front of me, I opened the newer edition and began reading the introduction. It started briefly telling the story of the seven founding members of La Leche League and listed them by name. Wait a second, I thought, those names I’ve heard or read somewhere recently… and opening mom’s book, there they were—not mom’s group, as I had thought, but the seven Founders’ signatures and little notes—“mother to mother” and “happy LLL living.”

This book meant more to me now than I had ever imagined it might.

Incredible! Not only had this book become meaningful to me after mom’s passing, but it had added sentimental value; it had become a treasure. Mom had gone to an LLL conference and had gotten the Founders to sign her book!

Mom’s values were strong and she was passionate about breastfeeding. I don’t want merely to follow in her footsteps because I admire her, I also want to give myself to something as valuable as helping mothers and babies in this way. It was the way she spent her life, and it would be a wonderful way to spend mine.

Mom’s values were strong and she was passionate about breastfeeding. I don’t want merely to follow in her footsteps because I admire her, I also want to give myself to something as valuable as helping mothers and babies in this way. It was the way she spent her life, and it would be a wonderful way to spend mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Comments

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