Years ago my breastfeeding journey took a painful turn. My sister-in-law Beth gave birth to my nephew Randy by cesarean and after four days and many bottle-feedings, she was discharged home with a newborn refusing the breast. Beth and my brother Al lived close by and I came over immediately. As a new La Leche League Leader, I was able to help Randy attach to the breast, but a few hours later it was a different story. No matter what I tried, Randy would not nurse. Beth made the decision to give up on breastfeeding and I went home and cried my eyes out. I thought I had learned so much about breastfeeding but I could not even help a member of my own family.
In my grief, I decided the only thing to do was to learn everything I could about breastfeeding. I never wanted to feel so helpless again. Eventually this led to my becoming a lactation consultant and starting a private lactation practice. I made breastfeeding my life’s work, and with her third and fourth babies, Beth became a long-term breastfeeding mother. Years passed.
This week Randy—that baby I couldn’t help—became a father. His wife Taylor gave birth on June 28. As coincidence would have it, this birth occurred just before our family reunion, which is held every three years and was to take place just 40 minutes from where Randy and Taylor live in southern Indiana.
As we drove to the reunion, I decided to swing by for a visit and happened to arrive when the new baby—Jack Black, named after my father—was four days old, the same age Randy was when I experienced my darkest breastfeeding hour.
But history was not repeated. I arrived to good news. Baby Jack was breastfeeding well, Taylor was glowing, and Randy looked every inch the proud Daddy. Grandma Beth, on hand to help, had lots of practical breastfeeding tips to share. My only role was to bring a baby gift and offer my congratulations and support. Randy and Taylor suggested taking this photo of me and baby Jack.
I didn’t stay long, but as I left my heart was singing.