When I was pregnant with my first baby I knew that I would breastfeed, but I'm not sure that I knew why.
If pressed, I might have been able to come up with some reasons having to do with health and nutrition, but I really think that my motivation was related to the vague idea that this was what I was supposed to do. All my friends did it, and it seemed pretty normal.
Since I didn't really anticipate anything in particular from breastfeeding, nearly everything about it felt like a gift. The cozy feeling, the interaction with my baby at feedings, the feeling of accomplishment, the healthy baby/child (not a single infection in seven years!). Even pumping at work seemed like a gift because I knew that my son would get the best I could offer him.
But the biggest surprise of all was the gift of a new profession.
I remember sitting in my nursing chair one day, reading the feeding chapter of Our Babies, Ourselves, and getting that rare, pit of the stomach feeling that the world was about to change for me. Right around the section on immunoglobulins coating the baby's instestinal tract I was hooked. I knew that I had to pursue this interest somehow.
At the time I was working in a completely different field, doing education policy work for a state legislature. I did know that I was going to make a change of some kind, but I had no idea in which direction I was headed.
Fast forward a few years, and instead of sitting in front of a computer I'm sitting in front of two breasts and a baby. And I couldn't be happier about that.
Breastfeeding my daughter, seven years after that epiphanic monent, has made me appreciate the gifts of feeding all over again. I'm grateful for every smile before a feeding, every sausage link roll on my baby's arms, every nursing-nap. And I'm also grateful to be part of a profession that helps other moms experience these gifts, too.
Check out these posts on this month's theme (updated throughout the day):
Momma's Angel: The 12 gifts of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Moms Unite: The gift that keeps on giving
Motherhood Actually: The gift of life: breastfeeding during a time of war
Massachusetts Friends of Midwives: The intangible gifts of breastfeeding
Blacktating: The gift of confidence
The Milk Mama; My baby's gift to the Milk Mama