It's always magical when women circle and talk, celebrate, support and share their stories. That is one of the things that I love about La Leche League; it is a time where I get to be myself and share with other moms that come from all different walks of life about the one thing that unites us: breastfeeding.
This week sharing with other moms about breastfeeding has been a major theme. As it turns out, this is the week that I have needed it most. I have the most painful plugged duct and I am doing everything I can to get rid of it. But it's times like these that moms wonder why they continue to nurse. The different types of pain associated with it, the problems that arise. And then as your baby gets older, the battle it can become every time you sit down to nurse and your nursling doesn't want to. It's hard and sometimes knowing that it's best for your baby isn't enough. Sometimes you need those other women around your to push you on.
Monday I was having a terrible day with a lot of stress and I could feel the duct starting to get sore. Nothing was going right and then there was Baby Daddy stress that I just couldn't deal with. After I got home from work I took a shower and a nap before La Leche Leage at 7:30. I woke up a little late and then stressed myself out even more trying to get there on time. That didn't work, but when I finally did get there, I relaxed immediately. It's amazing what knowing you are in a safe place can do for you. We had an awesome meeting; I smiled and laughed and told stories and learned with all the other moms that I have grown to value as trusted friends.
Then Tuesday rolled around. There was more fighting and bitching and just a really long morning. Then this 17 year old girl walked into my clinic. She was fully breastfeeding a 13 day old infant and was terrified. She said that he wasn't getting anything, she couldn't hear him swallowing. We decided to weight the baby and he had lost about 2 ounces in just a few days. Obviously something needed to change. I asked her if I could watch her nurse and so we went back to my office and she started nursing. She was hunched over the baby and looked like she was in pain. I got her to lean back and relax and positioned her arms differently. She said it still hurt. Then I noticed the baby's latch. His lips were curled in funny. I got his bottom lip pulled out and she goes "that's better!" and started to tear up. That made all the days of training and waiting around worth it. I needed to be able to help that mom and she needed me to help.
On to Wednesday. We had our monthly staff meeting where all of the WIC employees at all of the clinics that our parent hospital runs come together. During our break 4 of us went to pump. Most of us do not work with another pumping mom so we sat in the lactation suite and pumped together and shared stories again. By this time I was pretty certain that my plugged duct was turning into mastitis and was telling the other ladies there about it. They obviously couldn't make it feel better, but they did make me feel better and remind me why I keep doing this.
It doesn't matter how well you know someone, all of us moms, no matter what parenting choices we make, are united by the fact that we are moms. We are untied with the ones here with us, the ones that have gone before us, and the ones that will come after us. On those long nights or days when you feel the most alone, just remember how many other moms are out there with you.