How Breastfeeding Touched My Life

This world was strange to me.

Before, there was only the feeling of floating, drifting in and out of consciousness. Now, I was constantly assaulted by new sounds, new feelings, and the only constant was the giant who shone with feelings of love.

I had no thoughts, no words. There were only feelings. When I was cold, the giant provided warmth. When I was hungry, the giant would lift me up and guide me to something soft and I would feed. I knew very little, but I knew that it was a connection between us, something intimate and personal.

This world was strange, and scary, but there I was safe and content and nothing else mattered.

I sit in the lounge room, my sister and I taking turns as Daddy teaches us to read and pronounce words.

It is her turn, so I ocu … occupy myself watching Mummy feed the new baby. I look at them, and wonder if I looked so silly when I was still breastfeeding.

I remember little flashes of what it was like to breastfeed, but I can't do it anymore. I asked Mummy why the baby could do it but I couldn't. I wanted to know if it was like the things that Mummy and Daddy say I can't do until I'm older.

They laughed, and Mummy said that it wasn't like that, I had just forgotten how to suck. I asked if I could do it again when I remembered. Mummy said no, it was something you only did at one stage in your life.

Oh, well. That means that the baby will grow out of it too, and I won't have to be jealous. I turn my attention back to Daddy and my sister. 'Thomas went through the T-U-N-N-E-L'. No, silly, tunnel. I will know how to read before my sister or the baby do, so there!

I am starting to get bored, waiting for Mum to pick me up. She won't be here until my younger sisters finish and get out of class.

I look around, trying to spot her, and see several other mothers standing near the fence, waiting for their children to come out. One of them is breastfeeding a baby.

Oh, now I remember! Someone from one of the lower years had been raving for weeks about how her Mum had just come back from the hospital with a new baby sibling. I feel sorry for her; at that age all babies do is scream and cry and keep you awake at night.

Then again, it also means that your parents let you stay up just a bit longer, so you can finish the chapter of 'The Horse and his Boy' while they are too busy trying to quiet the kid to notice.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever be in that position, breastfeeding my own child like my mother did us? Will I go around with my shirt undone in public while I feed my child and people stare and children are fascinated about how that works? Will I be able to imitate that woman and not turn into a tomato from blushing at self-exposure?

Who cares? It's not like I'll be having kids any time in the near future. I don't even have a boyfriend yet, and I've had my period for less than a year. Kids of my own can wait a few decades.

I sit in my rocking chair, humming softly as I sing to myself and the infant nursing at my breast.

Was it truly so long ago that I was in that same position, my mother supporting me as I latched onto her? Did she feel the same intimacy and protectiveness toward me as I did to my little one? Did she spend most of her time giving birth wondering if she was ready for this role?

It is truly an indescribable feeling, being pregnant. A war between trepidation what you will go through during childbirth and the nine months before then, and the boundless joy and contentment at the feel of new life slumbering beneath your heart. But even that sensation grows dim in comparison to what you feel while you hold your child as they breastfeed. No words, no descriptions, even come close.

My beautiful baby has finished now. I burp him, still humming, then bring words into the tune as I croon a lullaby, singing my child to sleep, and smiling.

The world turns, and life continues in a circle.

I sit on my veranda, and watch my grandchildren and my great nieces and nephews run about. Ah, the memories of when I was that age. By my side, my daughter stifles a wince at the shouted suggestions of playing knights and outlaws. I resist the temptation to say that this was exactly what I went through when she was that age.

Now she has the role of mother, and holds a baby of her own. The baby starts to fuss, and my daughter shifts him as she unbuttons her shirt to feed him.

Again, memories spring forward. Memories of myself, being breastfed, then watching as my little sister did the same years later. Looking with the detached curiosity of an adolescent as I saw a mother breastfeeding her own, wondering if I would be in that position. Myself, gazing down at a tiny figure as I breastfed it.

Finally, watching as my own child breastfed hers. All the ways that Breastfeeding has touched my life.

By Natasja Rose