Wasting our lives and glorifying God

Wasting our lives and glorifying God
Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, August 10

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Breastfeeding: Cultural Confrontations

It's World Breastfeeding Week.  (Hurray for boobs!)  So, I thought I'd share various breastfeeding stories, anecdotes or things that might make you laugh or shake your head and say, "What?"

I absolutely always knew I would breastfeed. There was never another consideration.  But, truth be told, I did have a very Western understanding of breastfeeding.  You know, you breastfeed exclusively until 4-6 months when you introduce solids--and by solids I mean that paste-like substance they call baby rice cereal.  (gag!)  And somewhere around a year you wean your baby intentionally by little-by-little or all at once saying no to nursing.  I don't know where I got these ideas, except that I just absorbed them from living in America and from very "helpful" books like "What To Expect...."  (which I most whole-heartedly do not recommend).

Then I had Meg.  And we had a great nursing relationship.  I tried introducing solids at about 6 months, but she wasn't so into them.  I tried "weaning" her, but just didn't have the resolve.  BUT, I was already pregnant with Israel.  I just assumed that I would have to wean her before the new baby arrived.  Everyone I talked to assumed the same thing.  Time ticked by.  Closer and closer to the birth of our second baby.  Then a nutritionist at WIC of all places said, "Why do you have to wean her?  Nurse them both.  At least you won't get engorged after birth because she can take whatever the new baby won't." 

Well, that sealed it.

I tandem nursed.  One day when Meg was about 1 1/2 years old, I offered to nurse her and she said, "No thanks.  I'll have an apple."  So, I just had Israel.  But, Luc was born right before Meg was 2 1/2 and so I tandem nursed Israel and Luc. Until Israel was done and I just had Lucas.  And the story goes on.

Lilypie Breastfeeding tickers

When I moved to Mongolia a friend who had recently had a baby was not producing enough milk.  So, they asked me to nurse the baby.  I was uncomfortable with nursing someone else's baby.  It didn't fit in my Western Nursing Paradigm.  But I was willing to express.  So, every day I expressed a bottle or two for their baby.  They came over one night and all the friends were just sitting around the living room when the father of this baby warmed up the breastmilk.  Then put the nipple in his mouth and tested it.  Another friend said, "Man, you know that's Daja's breastmilk, right?"  He said, "Yes, but I wanted to test the temperature."  The friend replied, "Why don't you use your wrist like everyone else?"  The father said, "I trust my mouth."  The friend said, "I hate to see how you test her bath water."

Shortly after that I had some expressed milk in the fridge that they weren't able to pick up.  I didn't want it to go bad, so was considering what to do.  Gana's mother said, "Can I have it?"  Ummmmmmmmm........  Apparently, breastmilk is very good for one's liver.  And she should know.  She's a research physician.  So, she drank my breastmilk.  My Western Nursing Paradigm was not in Kansas anymore.

From that point on my mother-in-law frequently drank my breastmilk.  And when we go to Mongolia, even now, I express some for her everyday.

One day a friend of mine who had a baby about four months old had to go away overnight for a church conference.  She expressed milk ahead of time for her baby.  While she was gone she became painfully engorged.  So a mutual friend relieved her engorgement.  They were on a bus and there was not cup or means of expressing, so she did it the au naturel way.  My Western Nursing Paradigm was gone FOREVER.

When we moved back to America, a friend of mine who was a doula was at a birth that took much longer than expected.  She had expressed milk ahead of time for her baby, but it was now gone.  Her husband brought the fussy wee one to Bible study.  Without permission I slipped to a quiet room and nursed her baby.  She calmed and slept.  Everyone was greatly relieved not to hear a crying baby.  But I made the other moms that saw me do it swear to secrecy.  About a month or so later, Gana and I went to a wedding and these same friends watched our children.  It took longer than we thought to get home.  When we picked up the kids my friend said, "Um, I hope it's OK, but your baby was so fussy and wouldn't calm down.  So, um......I nursed him.  Is that OK?"  I started laughing.  "OK, well, now I can tell you.  Last month I nursed your baby when you were at that birth."  We both cracked up.  From then on I regularly nursed her baby when babysitting. 

And so my nursing journey goes on......its tenth year.  Saraa only nurses occasionally now.  But, soon we'll have a new baby to nurse and the fun will begin all over again!  Hurray for boobs.


Starr said...

I can hang in with you for almost all of them. I'm definitely too Western for the bus story. :-) Yay boobs.

Sheri said...

Okay, so my breastfeeding stories might not quite compare to yours, but I do have some. Nursing in the 70s wasn't as popular as one might think, but I nursed 4 babies and enjoyed every minute of it. And yes, a friend of mine nursed Cory when she was having a hard time nursing.

Karen Joy said...

That was awesome! Loved all the stories, but the bus one made me say out loud, "No way!"

It's particularly touching that your MIL will drink your breastmilk.

Jessica said...

This past weekend my husband surprised me with a overnight getaway and I had no milk pumped beforehand for him to drink while I was gone. A good friend of mine gave me some frozen pumped milk she had and assured my babysitter that if it wasn't enough all she had to do was bring him over to nurse :) I was so grateful! I would do the same for her in a heartbeat. Yay breastfeeding!

ricksyfroz said...

I loved reading this and will share it with my sister and daughter to help them with their western breastfeeding views. I've been thinking about pumping to generate milk to donate to the pediatric icu's. This inspired me so, that I'll no longer think abou it and just do it.
Love you, Roz Ballard

Alice said...

Absolutely love all the stories! The one on the bus made my eyes go wide, but I love how you're stretching my boundaries with your stories! Thank you! :) I have had recurrent dreams before about finding a baby abandoned in a bush while out for a walk with my little ones, and being so thankful that I breastfeed, and latching that poor little sweetie right on to ease the hunger right away. I'm a bit weird! ;) But I love the idea of nursing other babies if they need it!

Moroodliin said...

Hello. Just read you blog about breastfeeding. All is true. I am Mongolian woman with 2 kids. Seems u r married to mongolian man. In mongolia we all worried about mother's engorgement after birth and breasfeeding is nothing to hide. We dont think breast is actually breast when breastfeeding child.

Gombojav Tribe said...

Sain uu! Yes, I am married to a Mongolian man, we have seven children, and we lived in Mongolia before we moved to America.

Nice to meet you!

Shanda said...

That is so funny. I grew up in Africa where the mothers all nursed each others babies...and not in prive either. To me nursing was as natural as anything but when I returned to the US I quickly learned that others don't like it done in public!

Cassandra said...

this literally made me tear up! Wonderful post!

I love breastfeeding my son, and at first I was very secretive about it. But then one day I found myself in a room with a bunch of college boys who were visiting my husband, our little guy got hungry and I just latched it on. I felt no embarassment and not a one of them gave me a second glance ... because they were Mongolian (as is my Husband). That was when I realized that I shouldn't have to adjust my behavior simply because I am in the states now or because I'm in public, or someone is visiting.

Breastfeeding is natural, and only by exposing our society to it can it become normal again!

Leanna said...

Wow! I mean I've always believed in nursing and I can't believe some people chose not to! I just read an article talking about how amazing breasts were and then I stumbled here. It was saying how bras, especially underwire ones, restrict circulation and are not too good for us. But being w/o one everyone would lose their heads in the US! Mongolians seem to be so cool about it, Americans are so up-tight with everything!!
I just had one question, after so many years of breastfeeding have your boobs stayed the same from all of it??

Gombojav Tribe said...

Hard to say. Before I had children I didn't really have any boobs to speak of.

So, saggy or not, I guess I like having some better than not having any. LOL!

Patti said...

I too have nursed mother's babies and provided milk for a mom who adopted, etc. After nursing 5 babies (still one attached) my breasted have changed. But not in the way we were told. They are still firm, round, and healthy! I am curious to see what size they will end up when this last one weaned but I am sure it will be as nature intended they be :)

Kyonarai said...

It's interesting to me, as an american girl living in southern texas, married to a man from the same place, how different the breastfeeding culture is between the countries, and even just between breastfed vs. formula households. I was nursed for three weeks before my mom gave up due to flat nipples and little support. My two much younger siblings I really only ever saw being bottle fed. By contrast, my husband was nursed till he was 5, and his two(also much younger) siblings were as well. I was unable to nurse normally after my daughter was given bottles and pacifiers constantly at the hospital after a crash c section at 33 weeks, and was never able to get her onto the breast, but I pumped for 17 months before getting pregnant with this baby, and was even able to donate to the mother of an adopted preemie. My husband drank my milk all the time straight from the tap, and it never felt like a sexual thing when he did. It was always a gently relaxing feeling and completely different from him stimulating my nipples sexually. My top priority is establishing a good nursing relationship with this baby, no matter how my birth ends up going(hoping for VBAC)

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