By Victoria Washington
The only mention of breastfeeding I’d heard growing up was from my mother sharing that she’d tried to breastfeed each of us, but it just didn’t work out. With no known legacy of breastfeeding in my family, I have no idea what caused me to choose to breastfeed my child, but here I am 4 years in and still going strong!
The unwavering confidence behind my decision to breastfeed and to wean based on my daughter’s choice has certainly stirred a revival in my family. I know that my commitment will result in residual blessings for my daughter and my daughter’s children.
When I became pregnant unexpectedly, I turned to Google as a trusted source to determine which parenting practices would ensure the optimal outcome for my child. I guess I’d put enough buzz words in the search bar like natural, best, and even least expensive to yield results about the tremendous benefits of breastfeeding. Before I knew it, I’d convinced myself that I would breastfeed, use cloth diapers and make all of my daughter’s first solid foods. I’ve always lived my life allergic to debt, so saving money was a huge driver for me to choose to breastfeed. I also desired a strong bond with my daughter during her infancy. What I didn’t know was that I was signing up for years of breastfeeding and that I would not only nourish my infant, but my breast milk would hold just as much power for my toddler.
As a working mom for the first 8 months of her life, I became accustomed to pumping every day. However, my daughter quickly decided that she preferred the breast and would only sip a couple of ounces from a bottle during my entire shift. Each day when I came home, I greeted her topless knowing she’d waited patiently for her beloved breastmilk. With a growing stash of over 1,000 oz. of milk in the deep freezer, I figured I’d better try to use the milk some other way. I gave her milk baths and washed my hair with it, but ultimately, I donated the milk to another baby in my neighborhood.
Toddler breastfeeding has come with its own set of challenges, namely the guilt trip I experience when I’m out of milk or deny her milk just to get a moment to myself. I’ve even diverted her requests by requiring that she spell the word milk before I let her nurse. Of course, she adamantly told me that milk was spelled M-O-M. However, she quickly taught herself how to spell the word correctly to serve as the password for her liquid gold.
I still can’t say for sure how long I will nurse my daughter, but I’m very proud of the journey we have endured thus far. Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association has been an invaluable support for me and has empowered me to revive the legacy of breastfeeding for my family.