Salt Lake City Based Photographer Timbra Wiist owns/operates Landslide Photography & Photographs the Journey of Motherhood (see bottom of page or sidebar for more info. . .depending on what this blog is choosing to do for the day).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Quiet Influence

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about how the mothers before you influenced your choice to breastfeed. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st! 
 I don't think in my whole life I ever wondered if I would nurse my children. I wasn't SUPER exposed to breastfeeding, not that way I assume my own children will view their experience when they become adults (or maybe even as older children and teens), but it was sort of just a given. I was 4 when my sister came along. I don't remember a lot about whether there were bottles or nursing going on. I don't remember any pumping when my mom went back to work, nor do I remember cans of formula sitting around. I know from conversations with my mom, that she nursed me about 6 months and that she nursed my sister exclusively for about 3 months before going back to work, and then in the evenings for some time after that.

When I think of my first discussion about breastfeeding with my mom, I think about my cousin being born when I was 11. My aunt had gone back to aerobics and was working out a lot and my mom talked with me after a phone conversation about how my aunt reported her milk being "sour" since she'd been working out so much. I do NOT know if she stopped working out or stopped nursing :)

After I was married, but before I had children, I remember a friend of mine had her second little girl, and my mom shared with me one day about how this friend had a breast infection. I remember saying that I'd never be so committed to breastfeeding that I'd be willing to go through infections for it! A few years later, this same friend had a third child and one day she and I, along with a third woman, were in a discussion about bed sharing. She explained that often times their middle child still slept with them, I was completely horrified. How could someone get pregnant AGAIN while a toddler was sharing their bed?! Now I know.

When I became pregnant with my first daughter, I'd read things here and there. I was committed to breastfeeding for six months ONLY. I would never nurse her to sleep, because I didn't want her to associate eating with sleeping or vice versa. I would move her into her own room at six months old, we would not share our bed with her. That lasted about 12 seconds! I'd picked up a copy of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding just before moving out of the US, about a month before she was due. This was a fascinating read, but hard for me to get into. . . I did not see anything "beautiful" about breastfeeding, it was utilitarian. It was not a "relationship" or something a mother "enjoyed" it was just the way you were SUPPOSED to feed your child. . . that also lasted about 12 seconds.

A long time female friend of my husband's wrote one day, just before our daughter was due, to let him know that if I had any questions about breastfeeding or needed any support, I could email her. I never did, but it really stuck with me, that someone reached out to me, the way that I now attempt to reach out to new mothers who might not have a support system for breastfeeding, because it has become SO important to me.

When my first daughter was 8 months old, I visited a La Leche League meeting. I'd passed that magic "six months" I'd always anticipated nursing to, we were sharing our bed, and we were sharing a house with my parents. I think my mom was already becoming uncertain of my decision to continue to nurse until at year! I would come home shocked about children who were still nursing, and we would discuss the lunacy of it, until eventually I became a lunatic too :)

I've written to those ladies who talked with me about bed sharing and breastfeeding, to tell them that I wish I hadn't judged their parenting because I have become THAT parent. The response of "We knew, you weren't a mother yet, we just let you take your own journey" was so heart warming and forgiving. I want to remember that way of allowing people to take their own journey, especially as I watch my only (and younger) sister, moving into a life of marriage and child bearing in the next couple of years. I want to talk about how much breastfeeding means to me and my children, without being too worried about what decisions she will make. I want to give her a book here and there that has given me the tools and information I've needed along the way, while walking my own path. I want to be forgiving IF she is ever able to admit that she thought I was a crazy hippie and she'd never follow in my footsteps.

I am thankful for the women who quietly influenced me to embrace motherhood in a way I NEVER thought I would or intended to. I am thankful for the women who quietly said "I'm here if you have a question" or quietly endured my judgements and mouth agape :) I'm thankful for the mothers who have surrounded me through La Leche League over the past 4+ years as I made discoveries about myself, my child and my ideas of parenting. I am not so good at "the quiet" but I hope that I can quietly influence others to breastfeed and embrace motherhood by listening, offering information when asked, and most of all, allowing them to make their own discoveries as they venture into motherhood, a journey we can NEVER understand until we are THROWN into it.
Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.


Amy @ Anktangle said...

Your words about the incredible journey that is motherhood really ring true to me! I love that you have such a great perspective now, and that you're able to look back at yourself before becoming a mother and seeing how much you've changed through the process. Thank you for writing this!

Anonymous said...

I think it's really wonderful that you were able to discover what was right for you on your own time. With a lot of lactivism out there we can be a little pushy to get friends to breastfeed, and thats not what its about. I love that you learned that encouragement and support is what mothers need most.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how easily we judge parents before we are anywhere near being in their shoes. I used to see a kid crying in the grocery store and say "My child will NEVER do that!" Oh what a life that would be!