I was 11 years old, when I was diagnosed with Leukemia (Blood Cancer in common terms). At an age when children go to school, play, join art classes; I was battling for survival against this deadly illness.My parents hoping against hope, doing all they could to save me. Small enough not to know the intensity of the illness and it’s repercussions but big enough to understand what I needed to do to stay alive, I kept battling.
I was examined time and again; often questioned about the kind of life I have led thus far so that they could identify the cause for my sickness. On one such day, I happened to over hear the conversation the Doctor had with my parents,whereby I learnt that I was breastfed for over two years as a kid. Not that it meant anything, but from then on I started to develop a sense of positivity towards my beating the odds and surviving the sickness, and I did! Eighteen years later, here I am, happily married and a proud mother to a 13 and a half month old angel, who breastfeeds!
During the course of my pregnancy, I joined a Facebook group that advocates breastfeeding. Intelligent, like minded women sharing their knowledge and experiences, which, further encouraged me to breastfeed as much as I could. Now, I had done my study and, was thrilled and excited to latch my baby the moment she would be born.
I had a normal delivery after being induced. I had been up all night, and was completely exhausted and drained by the end of it. All I wanted to do was to breastfeed my baby girl but, to my dismay she just wouldn’t latch on. The hospital staff insisted on feeding her formula as she looked hungry and that broke my heart.I kept trying and eventually she latched on. The latch was so painful that my gut wrenched with pain, my toes curled and I instantly hated the experience. Where was that magical feeling, the calmness, the tears of joy? I was only crying in pain and wanted this to end soon, but my desire to breastfeed her was much stronger than my need to wean her off.
The last time I had felt this kind of determination was when I was sick and wanted to recover from my illness. My motivation then was to go and play with my friends, go back to school and live my life with my parents like other kids do. If my parents were my pillars of support then,my desire to provide the best for my child was my inspiration this time. I wanted to fight it, to provide her with the nourishment she deserved. The beauty of this liquid gold was my only way of securing her healthy future!
Eventually, with the help of a dear friend, an IBCLC (international Board Certified Lactation Consultant), I found out that my baby had a tongue and lip tie which was causing the problem and not allowing her to latch on correctly and feed adequately. The restricted movement of the tongue was not allowing her to latch and suckle. With great difficulty, we found a Pedodontist (Dentist for Children) who agreed to perform the Frenotomy (procedure to correct the tongue tie) on my month old baby. The process was done but the freeing of the tongue still felt incomplete and I was left dejected and in pain.
I approached so many doctors in Goa for help but none of them supported our findings and; simply asked me to resort to formula. I started losing hope in our Doctors. Eventually, when we were on the verge of travelling to Maharashtra, for the surgery, I came across an ENT surgeon and a relative of ours, who reaffirmed that a tongue and lip tie could restrict effective breastfeeding and agreed to operate on my baby.
The surgery was successfully performed. This was by far the most difficult day in my life as my baby was in pain and was hungry, and I all I could do was to helplessly watch her go through the snipping process. My husband was my strength this time. He held my hand and, our baby to his chest and reassured us that things would be much better now on. He has always stood like a rock, protecting her and me, staying awake himself and patting both of us to sleep when days were gloomy.
Finally the day had come when my baby started feeding better. Her reflux had vanished, she was taking less time to feed unlike the hours of continuous suckling and; as for me, I started turning into the mother my baby deserved.
Today my baby is 13 and a half months and we absolutely enjoy our breastfeeding journey together. This is the one thing that keeps her calm and keeps me in control. The boob comes to the rescue may it be any situation.
Breastfeeding has become such a norm for me now. I breastfeed in public confidently and don’t worry about how people feel and don’t notice if anyone stares. I am only doing my job and I feel proud.
Breastfeeding is not only about providing the best nutrition to your off spring but much more than that. It provides comfort, affection, induces peaceful sleep, builds immunity and sense of security in the baby and, most importantly develops an eternal relationship of LOVE!
About the Author: Prutha Pai is the proud mommy of 14 month old Vyaana and they live in the beautiful state of Goa.