Friday, November 5, 2010

LLL . . . L?

It seems that since I first started blogging I've been meaning to write about La Leche League. At the outset, I wasn't sure how much of my nursing relationship I wanted to write about but, although breastfeeding is extremely personal and intimate, it's also something natural and beautiful and it's a topic that I believe needs to be discussed.

For those who might not be familiar, La Leche League International is an organization founded in 1956 by seven breastfeeding mothers who wished to share information and support as they nursed their children. Today, LLL is helping mothers, babies, and families in sixty-eight countries around the world.

La Leche League's mission is "to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother."

When I was eight months pregnant with Dinobaby, I attended my first meeting with the local LLL chapter, determined to learn everything I could about breastfeeding, which I'd heard was both a natural instinct and a learned skill.  While nursing my older brother and me, my mother had attended La Leche League meetings to find support and advice from caring, like-minded mothers.  Twenty-five or so years later, I found exactly the same environment and it's been a blessing for our family for these past 14 months.

Meetings now are quite different than the early ones I attended.   Then, I was still wondering who my little baby would favor and if he would arrive on his due date.  (He looks like my husband as a baby, but with my eyes, and he was a week late, in true family fashion.)  During those rough first months postpartum, attending a monthly LLL was so motivating.  At that point, outings were more about survival than having a good time -- just getting myself and the baby into the car, out of the car, and home safely was an enormous task.  I knew that if I could just make it to the meeting I'd be with other people who understood the sheer exhaustion and overwhelming sense of responsibility, as well as the surprising, ever-growing love.  Now my little man one of the older babies running around the room, curious about the blinds and carpet and the artificial plants, and about the mysterious sleeping bundles tucked inside their car seats.

My LLL Leader approached me at last month's meeting and asked if I'd considered becoming a leader myself.  I actually had thought of the possibility, but only in the far-off "maybe someday it'd be nice/fun" sense.  It occurred to me that, even though I occasionally still feel like a twelve year old, I am, at least technically, a grown up.  "Maybe somedays" can now become tomorrows.

Fostering an environment in which nursing mothers and babies are encouraged and supported is something in which I wholeheartedly believe.  I've also realized that nursing my son, who is such a healthy and happy boy, has been one of the greatest accomplishments of my life!  So, after thought, prayer, reading, and talking, I've decided to start the pre-application process for La Leche League Leader accreditation!

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