Updated: Apr 18, 2019
As far back as I can tell, every baby in my lineage was breastfed until me and my siblings. My grandmother nursed all seven of her children for two years each. Breastfeeding was most likely a choice made for financial and time management reasons (they didn't have a lot of money for formula, plus with so many kids, who had time for boiling bottles??). How I WISH she was alive so I could ask her all kinds of technical lactation questions! In just one generation, that type of female ancient knowledge can be squelched. I see now there is an invisible thread that connects me to the women who came before me and will be woven into the lives of the women who come after me. When my siblings and I came along in the late 1950s and 60s, my mother's doctor discouraged it. She was told breastfeeding was old fashioned, not scientifically sound, and that babies did better on formula. And because he was the authority, the smart one who went to college, she believed him and did not even try to nurse. She was a product of her time, really, when women "just didn't do that". She was a modern, working woman with no fancy pumps or pumping rooms. I can totally understand why it did not make sense for her to nurse me. As we talked about it after I had my daughter, she voiced regret over believing that advice. As I watched her watch my daughter nurse, I could tell she was proud, and so happy for us. I still smile as I remember her say "Now you've gotta get that whole thing in there, Kelly" as she helped me latch my baby for the very first time in the delivery room. For someone who had never breastfed before, her words were more supportive and wonderful than she could ever know. To know that I had her approval and support, even though she did not breastfeed me, meant everything. And still does. It gives me the emotional fuel to keep alive and pass along this female superpower…..this ancient art and knowledge base to all of our daughters who wish to breastfeed. And to sew this thread back into my own family quilt. Thanks, mom.