Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (December). For this month, we want to honor breastfeeding for having enriched our lives and blessed us, maybe even empower us, in a way that only breastfeeding can. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants.
Thinking about this month’s carnival theme “Breastfeeding Gifts” in light of the holiday / Christmas season, for some reason what comes to mind are the Magi (cue We Three Kings of Orient Are ).
We who have grown up living and breathing the Nativity story in our everyday lives know about the Three Kings that followed a star to Bethlehem and brought symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Christ the child. It’s normal to take the story at face value and I have done so for years without question or putting much thought into it, until I became a mother. As I experienced the challenges that came with motherhood, particularly with labor and breastfeeding, I started thinking a lot more about the Virgin Mary. She was 9 months pregnant when she crossed the desert on a mule (How did that not stimulate labor, I wonder) and gave birth to Jesus in a manger (with no epidural! Oh my, I get weak in the knees thinking of it).
When I think back to the first moments during and after my labor with Sam and Jamie, I think about what Mama Mary’s labor and delivery must have been like. Quite honestly, I cannot begin to fathom how difficult it must have been for her in the most unsanitary, most uncomfortable place on earth. And then to undergo the struggles and challenges that come with breastfeeding a newborn, around a bunch of men no less, leaves me speechless. We all know that breastfeeding is challenging enough on its own, what more when you’re around the opposite gender who don’t know much about the topic in the first place (sorry men… but you know it’s true) — I tell you, Mama Mary is my hero.
Which brought about my random thought: I wonder how it would have been had the Magi been queens instead of kings. Had that been the case, I don’t think gold, frankincense and myrrh would have been their gifts choices (no matter how symbolic). If I were to assume that they were wise as well in the ways of breastfeeding (doulas perhaps?!), they would have probably thought of gifts that were fit to help a breastfeeding mother. One would have probably brought some clear broth or soup and rice, to warm the mother’s body but also to help build the milk supply. The other one probably would have brought some lactation supplements, like Malunggay or fenugreek. I doubt supplements existed back then, but I would assume one of them would have the leaves or the plants or something of that sort. The other one would have probably brought some hot compress or blanket to hoist the baby on (making it easier on Mama Mary’s back), or maybe even something to soothe the cracked, sore nipples (Aloe perhaps?). Undoubtedly though, they would have all brought some form of good advice or words of wisdom to help Mama Mary through the first few days. Most especially they would have been comforting to have around even for a while; relating their own experiences or those of others whom they’ve encountered to assure Mama Mary of her own challenges. Or so I’d like to think.
Of course I mean no disrespect in any way and believe wholeheartedly in the Nativity Story in its entirety. I know we’ve glorified it to a certain degree but somehow a part of me feels that Jesus as a baby (while Holy), was still, for a brief period of time just like any other baby. Which to me, made Mama Mary a mother that had to cope with her own daily struggles too. Reflecting on this doesn’t diminish them in anyway, but actually makes me appreciate them and the “spirit of Christmas” even more. And all the more, it emphasized the importance of having friends or a support group to see you through your breastfeeding (motherhood) challenges, no matter what shape or form they come in. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, breastfeeding is no easy task, and it takes a whole community of constant support to get you through it. Tangible gifts are always nice and helpful, but knowing that other moms are going through what you currently are going through, or are there for you to encourage you and keep you going (for as long as you want to, or however you want to), to me that is the most valuable gift any person can give a breastfeeding mom.
Advanced happy holidays! 😉
Check out the other Carnival posts here:
Shaps- Beyond Being Thin
Gretchen – Breastfeeding Gifts for Christmas
Carol – The Gift of Miracle
Jenny O.- The Gifts of Breastfeeding
Anne – The Gift
Nats – We Wish You Merry Nursing
Em – The “Breast” Gift
Isis- Got Milk?
Armi – Breastfeeding Gifts
Liv – My Breastfeeding Journey
Laya – Time in a Drop of Milk
Mec – The Gift of a Changed Man
Marnellie – From a Donee to a Donor
Icar – Breastfeeding Gifts