I'd like to share this testimonial written and delivered by LATCH President Buding Aquino-Dee for an SM Baby Company Event, entitled Nourish with Love. Breastfeed. last 27 August 2011. It is such a beautiful and heartfelt piece which explains how and why she became the breastfeeding advocate that she is today. Buding is the creator of several brands such as Blissful Babes, Saya, Corsierre, Eden, among others and hopes to inspire others with her own breastfeeding experiences.
HI! My name is Buding Aquino-Dee, I am a nursing mother and I am so thankful for this opportunity for me to share my breastfeeding testimonial. I am the president and co-founder of LATCH and usually, we are asked to teach about breastfeeding, latching and positioning or counsel breastfeeding mothers but today, I have the task of sharing with you my thoughts…..my reflections...my story…pure and personal :-) I am warning you…medyo malamim ito…lol!
Well breastfeeding for me was a life altering experience. Because of this single act, I was compelled to become a work at home mom. Even my business has something to do with breastfeeding. Today, my advocacy is breastfeeding and my apostolate is counseling mothers so it has pretty much involved me physically (for obvious reasons), emotionally, intellectually, spiritually…integrally. I even credit my parenting style as something that stems from my breastfeeding experience. *Kasi nga, I have learned so much. I have often said that breastfeeding is like a rite of passage for every mother and child.
Having said that…how have I grown through breastfeeding? Well, I have had the privilege of having diversely unique breastfeeding experiences with my three children --- Tommy, my pre-teener at 11 years, breastfed until he was almost three…Colby, at the feisty age of four, breastfed a bit past two years...and Arie, my unica hija, I am breastfeeding to this day at 1yr 9 months.
Every child is different..their breastfeeding behaviors and quirks, their personalities and what not, but what remains the same is the critical selflessness that I had to commit to. :-) *Let me repeat that…Every child is different..their breastfeeding behaviors and quirks, their personalities and what not, but what remains the same is the critical selflessness that I had to commit to. Sigh…
Thing is…it is such a momentous time for the child. A mother can have many children BUT every child has only that one chance to breastfeed so this makes this a REMARKABLE experience. Just like our birthday which can only be marked by one day, we only have our early years to breastfeed. That's it. And sabi nga nila…if you are happy….2 years is a very short time.
Now, allow me to narrate briefly, my experiences…here are some details….
Tommy's story --- born in Canada….nice system in Canada…healthcare etc….despite this I had a rocky start..every conceivable problem in the book….I had sore nipples, mastitis, engorgement, baby blues, thrush…then I had a counselor visit, Mercedes…she helped and encouraged me…things got easier….I realized I don't want other mothers to go through what I went through…Eureka moment…I took a course to become a counsellor...changed my life.
In 2006 I moved back to Manila and saw that there was a void in breastfeeding support so 8 like-minded women co-founded LATCH…
With Colby --- I was already with LATCH…so breastfeeding was much easier since I was very confident….but STILL I needed support, encouragement and reminding…I was still surprised at how different Colby was compared to Tommy. He was a strong nurser and he weaned himself shortly after his 2nd birthday because my tummy was already getting big with my third child, Arie.
When Arie came --- felt like a much older mom, in terms of milk production…my focus was sufficiency…I was not as "gung-ho" as I was years ago…she never took a bottle and I never had to pump. I brought her with me everywhere.
It was a very practical set-up…it needed to be since my time and resources were divided between the children….
In summary…I have reflected that breastfeeding affected my children in these ways….
Tommy who is a high functioning autistic, I feel could have been more disabled socially had I not established strong bonds with him through breastfeeding. It's the first evidence that he can relate, that he can be taught.
Colby who is a secure little man (lives an action packed, busy boyhood) would not be as malambing and sensitive had it not been for the times we cuddled and laughed through the literal connection of having him at my breast.
Arie (whose personality is yet to emerge) I pray, will learn to appreciate the beauty of her femininity because she saw in me, a role model whose breasts were used to sustain life.
A good by- product of our relationship is that I know that I am raising advocates…who will hopefully do good in society.
You know, we always hear, breastfeeding is beautiful…it's the best, no arguments there…but in this day and age of instant gratification, convenience, technology…it seems like there's no place for breastfeeding. It has been pegged as an artform, a culture that needs to be preserved, a lifestyle that needs to be revived. Really? Why the struggle? Hmmm...
I believe in breastfeeding so much that I wish it for every woman, mother and child…for every family…for the whole society. Having listened to hundreds upon hundreds of mothers who tried, succeeded, failed, tried again…I have come to learn that breastfeeding has become somewhat elusive. Un-natural almost…such a mystery that needs to be demystified. Women could get it all wrong and see this act of parenting as something to be pressured about. Pressure to provide, pressure to perform, pressure to pump and pressure to produce and raise good quality children…when quite SIMPLY…when you breastfeed, you are SIMPLY doing the best…period.
My personal insights are as follows:
It is when the mother sees beauty in simplicity that she is able to get with the program.
It is when the mother trusts in God's providence that she feels the blessing of breastfeeding.
It is when the mother is self sacrificing and committed when breastfeeding works.
It is when the mother equates breastfeeding with love when all the pieces of the puzzle fall in place.
Love and breastfeeding, yes, it is like MARRIAGE. When we give our classes at LATCH to pregnant women, we always say to look at breastfeeding like a marriage…people tend to get caught up with preparations of the "wedding day", like what crib to buy, strollers, clothes etc…when the real important task is breastfeeding, this is what you will be doing 90% of the time after you give birth. Being a mother means recognizing the fact that YOU have all it takes to make your baby thrive for at least the first few months…you provide all the babies basic needs: the warmth, food and nurturing. The way I see it…my breastfeeding babies told me…"I need you" "I want you" "Feed me"…I hope and pray you, MOM, hold up your part of the relationship by providing for me…and as for me, the BABY…I will grow and thrive and bring you joy. See, through breastfeeding, the baby learns about PROVISION, SECURITY, DEVOTION --- those are profound and priceless treasures you can teach and impart to your child…who would not want that? Breastfeeding is a teachable moment! Wow!
As a parting thought…here are some wise sisterly advice to help you to succeed at breastfeeding:
Embrace your new role as mother. It is such a privilege and gift. But as Spiderman (or the uncle of Spiderman says) with great power comes great responsibility…so:
1. Set yourself up to succeed….Be patient, plan and be prepared…go to a class, do due diligence. Surround yourself with supportive people. Bawal ang nega.
2. Trust in your instincts. Be quietly confident. God blessed YOU with a child to care for and in faith, believe that He who gave you this blessing will be faithful in equipping you to take care of this blessing. All for His glory, diba?
3. Take it one day at a time. And know that all problems have a solution. Ask for help when you need it. Don't stay in the dark. There is always a reason for why the baby acts a certain way or why your body is going through changes. It is all very fascinating actually and if you are stressed, you won't recognize the beauty in each moment….the wow in the now.
4. Be grateful always. Reward your little victories and speak blessing to your baby. Praise and elevate everyday moments to a prayer.
One of the greatest gifts breastfeeding has given me is the power of PAUSE. Yes, when you breastfeed…you stop what you are doing and you engage in something relational…something good for the body and soul. You breastfeed and you pause from the hustle and bustle of life. Imagine what a beautiful practice that is…despite how busy you are, you are forced to good, ika nga :-)
"nang dahil sa breastfeeding…nag iba ang buhay ko
may dahilan kung bakit and pagpapadede ay malapit sa puso
sadya itong nilikha ng Maykapal
upang tayong mga ina ay matutong tunay na magmahal"
In summary…as a personal testimonial, breastfeeding humanized me. It empowered me and made be capable of mothering in so many levels. It is so intimate yet I do it publicly. It is an individual endeavor but its impacts the whole community. It is so personal but I know it benefits not only me…that is the case when LOVE is EXPRESSED or SHARED...speaking of which, thank you for taking time to hear my story. It is my prayer that you have been blessed by it. Happy Breastfeeding Month. Good afternoon and good day!
Disclaimer: The title of the event was "Nourish with Love. Breastfeed." I wrote this piece with that theme in mind. I am not implying that if you don't breastfeed, you do not love your child or if you have failed to breastfeed, you were not committed enough. I am sure that whoever thought of the theme also is not saying that you cannot nourish with love unless you are breastfeeding. Every mother should nourish with love, breastfeeding or not :-)