Trusting Your Instincts
I have been thinking a lot about trusting my instincts as a mother.
Sometimes that is easier said than done. Especially when someone in an authority position (a doctor, a teacher, a specialist) or someone whose approval I seek (my mother, my partner, my friend) are telling me something I am doing is wrong.
That can be enormously frustrating – and it recently happened to me. I have realized a positive benefit though – it forced me to consciously evaluate my beliefs and practices and affirm my choices.
To explain, I always just knew I would breastfeed.
In fact, I dreamed about breastfeeding a baby, years before I actually had Ember. I was surrounded by breastfeeders all of my life - My mom nursed my three brothers and me into toddlerhood; my mother-in-law nursed her children until they were toddlers; my sister-in-law nursed her children past the age of one; and the baby I nannied, nursed until she was 3. I had so much support. Right down to my mother-in-law buying me a table to put by my rocking chair, so I had a place to set water and a book to read while I nursed!
I have been lucky enough to not have my choice about how I feed my daughter questioned until Ember was one. Just recently, a doctor told me I should wean her, and that it is not normal to nurse a one year old during the night.
I didn’t even know what to say.
Why do I always think of what to say after the fact? I wish I would have said, “I have never aspired to be normal!” or “What’s so great about being normal?”
Or, maybe I could have explained why it works so well for us! Nursing at night just works better than listening to Ember cry while my husband and I lay awake, all three of us in distress, nobody sleeping – instead, I can nurse her, and we all have more sleep and more peace (most nights).
I could have said, “But my baby is growing up so fast! I only get to nurse her for such a short time! I don’t want to stop yet!” Or I could have explained the nutritional benefits of nursing into toddlerhood. Instead, I worried that maybe the doctor was right. I listened to her and left her office worried.
I called Donna at New Baby New Paltz.
Because I knew she had years of experience as a La Leche League Leader, I asked, “Donna, am I a freak? Are there any other moms out there nursing their one-year-olds at night?” Donna reassured me. By the time I hung up the phone, I felt better and I began the process of thinking through my choices.
After several days, I had regained my confidence and even more – I felt angry at the doctor for advising me on an issue I didn’t ask for advice about – something deeply personal.
I also felt especially grateful for the support I have in my life. The experience strengthened my conviction that I need to trust my choices. Ember is my unique daughter, living in my unique family, and we know (most of the time) what works best for us.