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).

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Unexpected Places of the Heart

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome 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 your most unlikely support. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 22nd through August 4th!


I would certainly say that the most unlikely support for breastfeeding and full-term breastfeeding at that, came from a woman who underwent three cesareans and never nursed any of her children, not even a little bit.  When I was 6 months pregnant, we moved in with my in-laws while awaiting visas, for about two months.  This opened up a whole new level of communication between my mother-in-law and I, as we talked about my hopes for my birth and the realities of her own experience with birth.  I believe it was a really healing experience for her to talk about some of those feelings, even 40 years after her first son was born and nearly 30 since her last son was born.  She bore and raised children in an era where women didn't discuss those things with the men in their lives and later I would learn that her relationship with her own mother was never really a safe place for these discussions either.

It wouldn't be until a little over 3 years later, when I was pregnant with my second daughter, that we'd finally, actually, talked in much detail at all about her breastfeeding experience, or the reasons behind not breastfeeding.  By this point I was was an LLL Leader and much more knowledgeable regarding the correlation between birth and breastfeeding outcomes.  Again, she bore and raised children in THE worst era for breastfeeding (okay, perhaps second only to her own era, which really was THE worst era for breastfeeding).  A daughter of a father killed in war, born to a mother who only learned of her husband's passing within days of her only daughter, and second child's birth, her mother left her with her grandmother early on and left for "the city" to find work, widowed, young and alone!  WWII was THE birth of formula as a ready and available "second best" for feeding babies, which, in fact, kind of moved into first place during that time period.

In 1967 she would give birth to her own first son.  After a couple of days in labor, a husband who left to go back to work an hour away and wasn't even present when they finally made a decision to cut her baby out of her, but not with a horizontal surgery, instead a vertical incision down her abdomen, to birth that "huge" 8lb baby!  She had little support from her family or her husband and was alone to labor and birth a baby on her own, now a wrecked body that would cause her trouble for years to come!  She never nursed him, her milk simply did not ever come.  She assumed she just was not capable of producing any, and so with sons #2 and #3, she scheduled her cesareans and fed them formula from day 1.  She had no mother to gain experience from.  She had not witnessed breastfeeding as a child or young girl.  Her own babies were really some of her first experiences with babies.  By this time I realized, it was not my place to educate her on what she hadn't known. . .she was (and is) well beyond the years of baring, nursing and raising babies.  My place, instead, was to let her know that she did the best with the information and support she had in the moment, that it wasn't correct information.  Sadly, with just a little knowledge like "after a traumatic birth it can take up to 7 days for lactogenesis to set in, and those first days are just minuscule amounts of colostrum" she might have had simple success and a healing experience after a difficult birth into motherhood.  What I can tell her is that she is a damn good grandmother and mother-in-law to support the daughters born into her family through marriage, in their own mothering and breastfeeding journies.

She knew, all along, she knew that as my belly swelled with a second daughter, my first daughter still found joy, peace, contentment and some nourishment from nursing.  She even spoke with my husband about how she felt that sharing a bed and nursing full-term were things she believed were good choices for children and that we were doing it "right" despite that meaning that she felt she had made choices raising her own children, she wished she hadn't, or perhaps wished she had had the space to make different choices regarding.  But there were just ways things were done and that may have been a new battle she was not willing to wage with her young husband who provided for the family and offered little emotional support. . .because there were just ways things were done!  As the time drew near for my second daughter to make her way into the world, my mother-in-law actually asked my husband how Alani was doing now that she was not nursing.  He did not feel the need to inform her that I was now nursing two children at the same time, we just let her assume what she needed to so that her mind might not have to expand beyond the places it had already accepted.  And this is my most unlikely support!


Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

1 comment:

angelina said...

That was a really beautiful story and it sounds like you have a very understanding relationship with your mother in law. xoxo