For our WBW blog carnival on “Perspectives: Breastfeeding From Every Angle” we are pleased to host guest posts from various contributors. Today we are honored to share from Martha, Mexican-American mother working in the US and breastfeeding her daughter.
I am a Mexican-American. My parents are both from Mexico and came to the US before I was born. I was born state-side. My entire life has been a struggle between two cultures. Growing up I wanted to be just an American. I didn’t deny my Mexican heritage but being a Mexican wasn’t my top priority. I think I always felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I’m never Mexican enough, never American enough.
Then I had my daughter. Audrey has been the piece that made me feel whole. I don’t have to belong to anyone but her. Breastfeeding has been an integral part of that journey. Knowing that Audrey’s well-being was based on me finally made me rearlize that no one else’s thoughts about me and my background mattered. Audrey is number one in my life.
Growing up breastfeeding was just a normal part of life. Boobs were for babies. Who had money for formula? If you had to give a bottle, it had regular cow’s milk, not formula. To me, breastfeeding was just normal so there was never a question in my mind that I would breastfeed.
Though I have to admit, I did buy into the whole American bottle thing. I had just about bought the whole American birth/baby thing. You have to buy stuff to raise a kid, right? If you don’t spend the money, your child will be weird. I almost fell for it and then my midwife said “All you need for the baby is a blanket, a diaper and pair of boobs.” A light went off. I don’t need anything else but my breast in order to raise my baby. You can successfully raise a child with just your boobs!
I knew from the start that I would be returning to work after 6-weeks so I was going to have to bottle feed once I returned to work. I was worried that working full-time and breastfeeding were not going to work together. I didn’t know anyone that had done it. All the women I had known that breastfed were stay-at-home-moms. I had never heard of pumping! I took a breastfeeding class and that helped put my mind at ease that I could do it. I could work full-time and breastfeed. Maybe it wasn’t what I was used to, but I could do it. A true melding of the Mexican and American me.
It hasn’t always been easy. At week 5, just as I was sure I could do this. Just as I was getting comfortable with the whole operation, I got thrush. Honestly, it hurt worse than labor. I was sure my breastfeeding days were over. Thankfully my doctor gave me a prescription and encouraged me to continue. After that, the transition back to work went smoothly. Audrey refuses to take a bottle unless she is really hungry, which means a surplus of milk in the freezer. But otherwise, thankfully, we are going strong even after 7 months.
I’ve learned that my life isn’t about being Mexican or American; it’s about being me and being the best mother I can be. For me, breastfeeding has been a huge part of me growing into a woman. I’m not a little girl playing dress up, I’m a wife and mother. My body has had a part in creating life and continues to nurture that life. It took my breast living up to their potential to help me see myself as a whole person.