I vaguely remember meeting Aram for the first time.
He was three days old and they wheeled me into the NICU. One of the nurses rolled me up to a little plastic container holding him.
I went to peek in but before I could see him another nurse stopped me. “I’m sorry, I just need to check your ID bracelet and make sure it matches the baby’s. I know, you’re thinking ‘but I know my own baby!’ I’m sorry, it’s just protocol.” Overwhelming sadness came over me. I had never seen him before…I wouldn’t know my own baby and I was happy she was checking the bracelet to make sure.
Then, I finally got to see him. He was so little and a bit jaundiced. They wanted me to give him a bottle of the milk Brian had been pumping for me (obviously, my breasts, but he was doing the work) while I was in what I felt like was a coma the past three days. They warned me he was born without a sucking reflex and we would probably end up gavaging after 15 minutes if he wasn’t taking any in through the synthetic nipple.
They snapped a photo while I was feeding him:
Aram ended up refusing bottles and only wanted to breastfeed once his sucking reflex developed. Breastfeeding ended up working out for our family. It was something we fought to do, but we know a bit of luck was involved, as well. I was able to produce milk without a problem, Aram was able to latch, and I had a very supportive family – these factors contributed to our success. I also think knowing that there was always another option, and no matter what my baby would get fed, led to a peace and relaxation in the process of finding out how we would eventually nourish our child.
I had other pictures from the same day we met him that showed me breastfeeding him, but we somehow lost those photos. Only the very first photo of him bottle feeding remains, and I’m glad. I remembered the relief I felt when the NICU nurses were showing me how they and my husband (overly tired spreading his time visiting me in one area of the hospital and Aram in another) were feeding Aram while I was gone. I still had thoughts I might not live much longer (PTSD had already started). I had such comfort in the fact that if I wasn’t there my child would still be cared for and loved, and the bottle symbolized that for me.
I am proud to be a breastfeeding mother. I also love the above photo of Aram with a bottle, and everything I feel it represents. We should be so grateful we are living in a part of the world where our children have multiple ways to be nourished. There are many areas of the world where there are no options:
If someone wants me to bash bottle feeding I won’t do it.
Education is extremely important. I don’t think the research on formula or breastfeeding should stop, but judgment needs to.
Just think if we focused all of that energy hating one another and put it toward something truly worth hating?
I say let’s do it. No time like the present. Mothers are forces to be reckoned with and once we find a cause worth fighting for, we are unstoppable.
Dr. Llyod Greig spoke about the Ethiopian famine of the 1980s in a recent interview. All these years later, he still was visibly crying as he spoke about how he just wanted the people to die with dignity, but it was impossible to do when dying from hunger.
My fellow mothers, this is what we should be fighting. We need to be at war with something truly evil – starvation.
Thinking about this tonight, I’m not just going to suggest we do something. I’m giving a call to action.
*Update* We’ve looked into the famine, and found that an equally urgent problem is the water crisis. While there has been some relief for the famine, the WHO and UNICEF have reported that the number two cause of death under five is water-related illness. Water is also the first step in being able to grow crops.
Waves for Water is currently working on a project really close to our heart. If you’re interested in learning more, check Waves for Water here. You can also donate below.
Water Project Update July 2013: We are so pleased to announce that thanks to this community of mothers, 20,000 people have received water in Ethiopia since we announced this project in December 2012! Waves for Water is about to start phase 3 of our Ethiopia project, so if this is a cause close to your heart, please click on the link above for more information.
Hunger/Nutrition Project Update July 2013: We are so excited to announce that we are working on a project directly related to addressing hunger and improving nutrition in a rural community of South Africa. Please visit Raiseitup.org for more information.