Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Moment I Felt Like A Mom - It Was Something In the Milk

I wrote this blog post for a contest submission. The contest was looking for a post about "the moment when you really felt like you became a mother". I still haven't heard back yet about whether or not I won, but I figured I'd share it for Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day!!

It took a lot longer to feel like a mother than I expected it would. I certainly didn't feel like a mother when we came home from the hospital. My daughter was such a sleepy baby that no matter what I did I couldn't get her to nurse. The lactation consultant at the hospital told me to undress her and dab a wet washcloth on her feet to wake her up. While that made her mad enough to wake up and latch on, as soon as she started to nurse she would drift back into fetal sleep. In fact, the whole nursing experience (the pumps, the mastitis, the sleep deprivation), which I had expected to be the bridge that would bring me into motherhood, did just the opposite. Weaning after 8 weeks allowed me to finally beat the painful recurrent mastitis, find pleasure in being close to my baby, and start to get my mommy mojo.

Once I could hold my baby close to me without flinching in pain I became obsessed with baby wearing. Looking down and seeing my tiny daughter's round cheeks poking out of a Moby wrap made me feel like I was connected to the soul of the universe. I also became the master at "The Mommy Dance" - the crazy bouncy, swinging, waltz that was the only thing that would calm my hysterically screaming daughter during those "witching hour" evenings.

However, it wasn't until close to my daughter's first birthday that something clicked and I felt like my brain had really been rewired from 30 year old working professional to Mommy. What made me realize it was, of all things, whole milk. From the time my daughter was born no major decisions were made without our pediatrician's blessing. She told us what brand of formula to use, when to start solid foods, and even what kind of sunscreen to buy. But something about switching to whole milk made me realize that our daughter was not a mysterious little being with unknowable ways and incomprehensible needs. She was a little person. A little person who I knew and had known since before she was born. And I was her mom and knew what was best for her. And I even realized that I had known all along what was best for her, better than the lactation consultants during our failed breastfeeding days, and sometimes, better than the pediatrician. So, I switched her to whole milk and I didn't call the pediatrician about it. I knew how to do it, because I was, and always will be, her mom.


  1. This is so sweet! You really captured that feeling of going from total bafflement and fear to feeling like you actually know what you are doing. When it's time for you to have a second child, you'll see that it's a lot different. You don't have to go through the whole mystery part, you can just go home from the hospital and dive right into the being a real mom thing!

  2. Dear Mamma Giraffe,

    Hi I’m Kat and I’m taking parenting and recently I’ve read your blog article post “The Moment I Felt Like A Mom -It Was Something In the Milk”, I got touched by your story. We learned in the class the debate about Bottle vs. Breastfeed and the benefits and disadvantage of the two. The way you feel emotionally connected to your child and the way your confidence build up inspires me so much. Reading your blog makes me want to be pro-breastfeeding in the future when I have my own kids. I guess what they say is true that nothing can prepare you for parenting except for the actual experiencing of taking care of your baby and learning stuff along the way, like the way you learned the “Mommy Dance”. In your blog post you mention about the pain when your daughter bites into your nipples and I wonder if the hardships makes you think twice about breastfeeding, also you mention that you didn’t feel like a mom yet until you breastfeed your daughter, so what are yours feelings when you were still pregnant and how do you feel that time? When I was reading your post I can already feel that you are a great mom and in the future I wish that I could be a great mother like you.