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 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.
We are forming a team to aid in the East African famine crisis (see: Famine Early Warning Systems Network).
Comment below if you want to join in and be a part of the aid. I will contact you privately shortly thereafter.
Update: We are working towards clean water as the first step towards addressing the famine and drought in the southern region of Ethiopia:
Did you know? $1 can give clean water to one person for over a decade.
Why is water life-altering?
- Unsterile water is the number two killer amongst children. Around the world, fetching water is a woman’s task. Thus, one of the most crucial health issues for women in Africa is the clean water shortage. 1 in 5 children worldwide dies of a water-related disease.
- Water is a women’s issue. In order to get access to clean water, women and girls must carry up to 50lbs of water every day over typically 5 miles or more. Carrying this water has shown to stunt growth in young girls which has contributed to the extremely high maternal mortality rate in these areas, but girls and women also face dangers along their way to a water source.
- Water improves education and economy. Education has been proven to be the greatest way to improve a community. When kids get sick from water-borne diseases, they can’t attend classes – then fall behind, then drop out. Most students suffer from severe dehydration because they try to drink as little bad water as possible. When the brain is dehydrated, it has a very hard time focusing on tasks such as school work, and chances of success are greatly diminished. There are some children who walk daily to get water and are unable to attend school, and the adults are unable to put hours into a paying vocation. When children have the opportunity to be educated, they can become problem solving members of the community and have a hope of contributing to their society.
Fayye Foundation has teamed up with Waves for Water to pursue a series of clean water projects throughout Africa. The filters that will be installed use the highest filtration rates available, can provide clean water for an entire village for pennies a day, and have a high flow rate which eliminates the need to store water. The filters are self-sustaining and easy to maintain. If cared for, each $50 filter lasts for many years, providing clean water for up to 100 people a day.
waterlink Africa: a chain of friends, spanning generations, from Africa to America and back to Africa. Donor, healer, helper – each link is necessary. Waterlink Africa delivers solutions from inventors to people in need of safe drinking water in every faraway corner of Africa.
Waves for Water and Fayye Foundation are certain that everyone who lacks clean water deserves to have unlimited access via an endless chain of caring, of which each of us is a single link. Experts are confident that the water crisis will be completely eradicated in our lifetime, but the only way we can do that is by every person in the link working towards this cause.
To donate to our first Waterlink project (Waves for Awassa/Project Ethiopia) you can go here. Your tax-deductible donation has the potential to give 20,000 people access to clean water. Every dollar counts.