Grace Prevails with Fearless Trust

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I did not have any attachment to my own mother at all.  She had some serious hurt and issues she did not want to deal with and it really prevented a healthy relationship between the two of us.  What I took from that is that when it came time for me to have my own family, I wanted things to be different.  I wanted to have an incredible relationship and attachment to my kids, in every way possible.

It was a surprise to find out I was pregnant in the summer of 2010, and I set out to do all kinds of research possible.  I wanted to know what all of my options were.  I was blessed to not have any distractions such as working a typical job, and I really threw myself into preparing for my pregnancy.

Some of my dear friends told me about breastfeeding and I was all ears.  As I started to my research and I heard about all the wonderful benefits, some physical and health related for both mama and baby, but also the relationship benefits and attachment that can occur, I was thrilled.  But I had no concept of what I was in for.

We birthed unassisted from home and was able to start breastfeeding within the hour at home.  We did lotus birthing and never cut the cord.  All very new things to us, but we just went with what we felt led to.  We are very outside of the box people, and her name reflects that.  Our daughter’s first name is Fearless Trust, taken from Psalm 27.

That first night, of her sleeping on my chest, us tummy to tummy, was just heaven on earth.  I had never known such joy.

I was not truly prepared about the after effects of birth.  I felt like a truck had hit me physically.  I felt so awesome pregnant, and so horrible not being pregnant.  No one told me that breastfeeding could be painful.  I was not prepared that my nipples needed to adjust to being latched on, I was not prepared that getting the right latch was necessary or it would hurt both of us in different ways, I was not prepared that with every session, it would cause my uterus to clamp down and that was a natural process after birth.  And worse, I had no one in my family to reach out to, no real friends to be that open and honest with about what we were going through, so I just started researching on the internet, and listening to my instincts, which has always led me to good things.

I took a ton of arnica.  I diffused a lot of Frankincense and Myrrh, which seemed to soothe both of us.  And I really worked on getting to know this little one and developing our communication right from the get-go.

I started noticing different positions helped her and myself.  Stacks of pillows around me became my best friend.  We virtually lived on the couch or the bed the first few weeks.  I was blessed to have an incredible MIL who brought me food and let me and her rest and bond.  I could not believe how hungry and thirsty I was, nor how tired I was breastfeeding.  Many naps occurred for us both.

I had read stories of mothers in various cultures who basically stayed in for 90 days after birth and I gave myself and this little one permission to do the same.  I did not worry about attendance to anything, going shopping, anything like that, and outside of few walks close to home, the little one and I just stayed and rested and bonded.  I totally credit this one particular thing in helping our breastfeeding journey, and also our relationship.  It made for very low stress for both of us.  It is a privilege that I know few get to experience, but rest at this stage is so vital for both mama and baby.  Not everyone may need 90 days of that, nor do I remember if we were exact on that number or not, but what was significant is that I felt that any competition to show or prove that her and I were back up and running at full speed, going out and running errands and making public appearances — I just felt none of that was necessary at all.

In my history, my gut health was horrible and had caused a lot of problems for me.  In researching breastfeeding and introducing solids, it was awesome to see how breastmilk helped prepare their gut for LIFE.  And also to find out that there is a time that the gut seals itself, and that sealing can happen anywhere from 6-10 months old of age. I was very interested in helping her get ultimate gut health so that she would not have to struggle like I had or try to rebuild her gut health.  I also watched her for interest in solids.  She really did not have any and was totally satisfied by milk.  So we went almost a full year exactly in breastmilk alone.  I never pushed solids on her, but really waited until she was ready.  Her first solids were homemade chicken bone broth with a pastured egg yolk in it. And we took our time with solids.

I know by this time, many mamas wean or look into weaning.  I kept researching, but I felt I did not want to force anything.  As she got older, it seemed that the breastfeeding was not just a nutritional thing for her, there was this huge emotional aspect that it brought her in calming her emotions.  She never did want a pacifier or bottle, she just wanted me.  Or I should say, she wanted what we referred to as “milk-milk time.”  I can tell you that breastfeeding through the emotional two-year old time and through teething, and having that available to help with those meltdowns was just incredible for both of us.  

Yes, some adjustments had to be made.  As she got older, at times her latch would get lazy.  Or you go through they want to breastfeed in “olympic” positions, even upside down.  Or you go through being very “touched out” as a mama, and you really don’t feel like breastfeeding right now, or because you’re working on something.  We had to constantly upgrade our relationship overall, and our breastfeeding relationship.

We just hit the age of three and a half years.  And we are still breastfeeding very strongly.  Right now, she likes it at night sometimes, while we sleep, and in the mornings when she wakes up, or still she uses it if she ever gets really upset and it is her way of calming herself down.  She has had to adjust to different positions since she is so big now. And I have had to make some adjustments too, in various ways. But overall, we have worked together on this and the benefits of that have spread throughout our entire relationship. There is a trust level and communication level we have that is hugely significant to us both.  

In addition, she has never been sick yet. We have not had to deal with a cold, ear infection, none of that.  Of course, there are other elements in play to that process.  But I do believe breastfeeding has played a huge part in this, in giving her gut time to seal, and giving her immune system a huge jump start, etc.  Also, she is off the charts in how tall she is, which again, other elements affect that of course, but I do believe that extended breastfeeding has played a huge part in that.  

Whenever she is ready for this process to end, I am fine with that.  But for as long as she feels this is something she needs, I want to partner with her in that way.  I never expected our journey to be like this, but it has been an absolutely amazing journey.  And I love that my dream of having an awesome connection and relationship with her has come true, and that we have breastfeeding to thank in helping that to be all that it is today.  

Cherieann Riley  

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