Originally published in January/February 1983 issue of La Leche League News
Editor’s Note: The first issue of La Leche League News, the bimonthly publication for members, was published in 1958. The name changed to New Beginnings in 1985. New Beginnings continued to be published until 2014 when it transitioned to its current blog format at www.lllusa.org/blog/.
Nobody ever told me how time consuming it would be to care for a baby. I was advised by friends and relatives alike that the newborn baby needs three things: to be fed, to be kept dry, and to be kept warm. If I filled these requirements, I was guaranteed a contented baby, they said. It sounded easy enough to me. I thought mothering would involve occasional diaper changes, several ten-minute feedings, and playing with the baby as I went about my current project or chore. The rest of the time he would be happy to sit in his infant seat and coo and sparkle as I went about my business. I was also told he would sleep 20 hours per day. I thought that a baby nursed a specified amount of time simply to empty the breast of its contents at each feeding.
Needless to say, in reality life was quite a bit different. Dominic needed to nurse every hour or so for 20 minutes or more and, furthermore, took his “catnaps” while nursing. When I attempted to place him in his crib or infant seat, he screamed with indignation as soon as his little body was out of my arms. As a result, we own an infant seat that looks like new and a baby carrier that holds many treasured memories as Dominic spent the first eight months of his life next to my heart or on my back as he got bigger.
As for night nursing, I figured the most he would awaken each night would be once or twice, but not every hour as he did! Friends assured me that by three months he would certainly be sleeping through the night. Dominic evidently has still not heard the good news.
Sounds like a pretty demanding start and a pretty busy day even now—but you know what? We are having the time of our lives and wouldn’t change it for the world. If not for the contentment and peace I derive from meeting the needs of this tiny bundle of humanity, I am sure that the demands would seem limitless; but nursing him makes it all such a rewarding thing to do, and I will never have the chance to relive these days with him. They are here and now. I am proud of us as a family because we met each challenge, each demand, each exhausting situation. We met our baby’s needs, no matter what they were, with love and tenderness and laughter; oh, yes, and sometimes with tears and personal sacrifice. It was a tall order, much more than we anticipated before his arrival, but we proved to ourselves we were up to the task, and we wear the title “parents” proudly. We know we earned it.