Friday, August 5, 2011

Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week: Breastfeeding a preemie

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week with the Natural Parents Network, I'd like to share a glimpse of our breastfeeding journey. Please forgive the amateurish poetry -- I don't do this often. Sometimes prose just doesn't do the trick. Eventually, I'll be able to really write about it...


I still cry to think how you were too small,
too weak,
too early
to suckle
Still, I held you to my breast,
I let you smell me and fumble around
all the wires,
all the tubes,
all the waiting nurses
Still, I refused the bottle and formula
you sucked
you grew
you came home

Without the feeding tube you stopped growing
because of reflux,
because of weakness,
because of my frazzled nerves
Still, I pumped every few hours and helped you learn to suck
with nipple shields
and SNS
and physical therapy
and kind helpers

Together, we were determined to overcome the
bad latch,
plugged ducts,
and sleeplessness
Still, I nursed you at my breast and watched you grow

After 4 months,  breastfeeding was "established" and we could do it
without props
without pain
without interventions
Still, I wondered how long our mamatoto* would last:
six months,
one year,
or two?

Today, at 20 months, I nurse you like a pro
in the bed,
at the table
on a bench
Still, my breast and it's magic milk are made
for hunger
for connection
for easing tears
Still, I can't imagine giving this up anytime soon
we've worked too hard
we've come too far
we are mamatoto,

*mamatoto is a Swahili word to denote "mother-baby". My understanding is that it refers to the nursing mother and infant dyad as a single, connected unit, rather than as two separate individuals.



I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!

You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)


  1. That was beautiful. What a journey to get to where you are now. Congratulations on your determination!

  2. Thank you, Brenna. It has definitely been worth it!