Monday, June 1, 2020

From One New Mom to Another: Keep Calm and Breastfeed On


My first child was born right before Mother’s Day. I’ve always said that he is my Mother’s Day present. This year that “Mother’s Day present” turned seven years old. I took him to the pediatrician for his annual wellness check. At the door of the clinic, I saw a very little baby, probably two or three weeks old, crying just like…a baby. I saw the young parents taking turns to hold and try to calm the baby. I saw their faces. Due to the pandemic, the clinic set a rule that each child can only be accompanied by one adult. And it was obvious that neither one of them was confident to take the baby through the clinic door alone.

I remember when I was a new mom. Every time I had to take the baby out by myself, I felt like a Hobbit leaving the Shire to fight the Battle of Helm’s Deep. I imagine it must be even harder to become a new parent during a pandemic.

I imagine there are many new parents out there, trying to take their beloved babies through this difficult time. I imagine they worry, they plan, they smile for their babies, even when they are falling apart inside.

I remember when I decided to become a mother. It’s not difficult to love. It’s not difficult to dedicate to my baby—these are almost instinctive things. The difficulty was that from now on I had to become the one who “holds everything together" for the baby. To feed the baby. To shelter the baby. Take him to the doctor and later to the school. Be patient, be kind. Always protect, always hope. And never fail. From the day I became a mother, I became a pragmatic person, always ready to answer all needs. This is quite a skill, unfortunately I can't write it on my resume.

Now that the pandemic continues, we are told to stay at home. I imagine all the moms and dads sheltering in place at home with their babies, trying to do everything right while staying calm and optimistic.

But how can we do all of these? I became a mother for the first time in the year when the country was prosperous and the people were at peace. Still the small storms in my small home sometimes made me feel stressful. That was my longest and hardest year.

Yet amazingly, that was also my easiest and shortest year. Baby cry? Breastfeed. Baby hungry? Breastfeed. Baby sleepy? Breastfeed. Baby waking up? Breastfeed. And the days passed.

Finally, one day, I discovered that the baby does not need me to “holds everything together.” He just needs me to be honest and do my best. Me and my baby are not the one protect and the one being protected. We are a team. The baby loves me and is willing to help me. I raise him, he raises me, and then we grow together.

Parenting is absolutely difficult yet amazingly simple. Just keep calm and breastfeed on, good things will happen.

From one mother to another, you can do it, too!

**This post originally published on San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition's Newsletter on June 1, 2020. Photo credit to Mu-huan Chiang. 

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