I was ushered into the natural parenting lifestyle– with all its different names & notions– gradually during my pregnancy but very suddenly after my son was born. I became a single mother with a host of lofty ideals. During my pregnancy I read many books, learning about eco-friendly ways to add another human to the earth, learning to question vaccines & disposable diapers, & I gathered enough facts about breastfeeding to inform the most uninformed & arm myself against the strongest critics. As can be expected, in hindsight, it is all conjecture until the little one is actually in-arms & reality is more authentic that it has ever been before.
The new awareness I possessed made me feel brave & intelligent but it wasn’t until I realized that I had a child who generated crying spells every night as an infant, a child who preferred being awake to being asleep—no matter how tired, a child who continued to passionately reach for my breast well into toddlerhood, that I understood the weighty importance of a single mother & her nursing relationship with her child.
A certain devastation accompanied the first few months of my son’s life. I was heart-broken with the knowledge that my son’s father would not be involved in our lives. When we came home from the hospital, just my new baby & me, I realized we were alone. I took great, sweet, peaceful solace in nursing. When I struggled, we nursed. When I wasn’t sure if I could be a mother by myself, I would nurse my son & drift off on a wave of love-hormones, gazing down at my new treasure & our closeness. I took immense pride in knowing that although I was in such pain, I was still doing what was best for my child.
In the early months when my son cried for reasons I could not understand, my sanity was very simply saved by breastfeeding. I can’t even begin to imagine how the many infant-stage night stirrings transpire without the easy act of turning a common co-sleep into a quick nursing session. With no one available to take over the dark, lonely all-night awakenings, I resigned myself to the notion of sleeplessness, held my son close, & nursed.
As my son got older, more mobile, & more likely to haphazardly tip over & fall down, breastfeeding was a super hero always soaring in for the rescue. Breast milk is a magical tear-expunger. When pure exhaustion settled in after days of chasing a newly walking child while still suffering through a sleep schedule that had not yet been ironed out, lying down to nurse became the only moment of rest in those long, busy days. While the climb into toddlerhood got wilder, more rambunctious, & tireless, the art of breastfeeding past infancy became a pure necessity.
As a single mother, my attachment with my son was infallible. We rarely spent any time apart, except the two movies I saw in his first year of life, which I can’t remember because I was thinking about him. His transition into independent Toddlerville was uncomfortable for me. I had been his rock, now he likes to throw rocks. Our sling had been his favorite place to be aside from my arms, now he wiggles & worms until I set him down to run. I had been his only source of nutrition, extra-long since he avoided all solids until after his first birthday, now I have to wrangle with relatives who want to give him processed foods & I have to ask him to slow down so we can sit for a second to have a nursing session. I happily point out nursing babies in person or in pictures, & we both delighted in watching the mama pig at the county fair nurse her dozen piglets, all oinking & eagerly fighting for her teat.
As imperative as our nursing relationship has been, as absolutely monumental to our experience as it has been, I know that it will someday end. I live vicariously in my thoughts of the future, knowing that advising mothers, especially single mothers, to take advantage of this crucial experience, is nothing short of life-changing. Single mothers are among the groups that have the lowest rates of breastfeeding. I can relate to the sadness & see its potential to blossom into resentfulness, easily impairing a mother’s urge to breastfeed. But breastfeeding is actually a bandage to a broken-hearted wound. It is a salve to a woman who deals with every aspect of parenting alone. It is life-saving, in more ways than one.
I ask you single, breastfeeding moms— Why did you choose to breastfeed? How has it blossomed in your life? How do you spread the word to other single moms? Moms with partners, do you also spread the news about breastfeeding & its various blessings? Has nursing saved the day in your life with your child?
If anyone is looking for excellent information, please watch this video of how to get a proper latch, which can prevent possible pain & other problems. Reading & watching information may prove to be very important in the beginning nursing stages.
About Kristen Tea
I am a 27-year-old single, attached, informed, lactivist, intactivist, peaceful Minnesotan mother of almost 4-year-old Sun Ronin a.k.a Sunny Boy. I am an artist & lover of expression. I’m also a student with many things to learn, including nutritional therapy, lactation consulting, doulahood, yoga instructing, & more. I believe that unplanned pregnancies do not have to equal uninformed motherhood, & women have the power to restore humanity to everything we touch.