When my husband and I found out I was pregnant with our first child, we were still based in Timor Leste as lay missionaries. We were overjoyed and not a bit overwhelmed, as we had only been married three months when I started having pregnancy symptoms — nausea, dizziness, aversion to certain smells and food, among others.
At that time, we had very limited Internet access and there were no bookstores selling books on pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. I felt a bit clueless as to what I was supposed to do as a first-time mom so I was basically just “going with the flow,” trusting my instincts and “listening” to my body. This went on until, as fate would have it, we were evacuated out of Timor when I was five months pregnant because of civil unrest there.
Once we got to Manila, I went for a thorough check-up with an OB-gyne recommended by friends. I also bought a few books on pregnancy and childbirth. It was in those books that I first read about breastfeeding and its benefits to both mother and child. I remember saying to myself then that I would do my best to breastfeed our baby.
We returned to Timor when I was seven months pregnant even while the situation was still unstable. When I gave birth to our son, it was one of the most surreal, beautiful experiences. The midwife immediately placed him on my chest and brought him to latch onto my breast. It hurt initially but I didn’t care. I was nourishing my baby with my body, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world!
I would eventually overcome the “obstacles” of cracked nipples, mastitis and initial apprehension from my well-meaning mother (who has since become pro-breastfeeding) to breastfeed our son until he was two years and four months. I only stopped because I was already pregnant with our second child, and although I wanted to try tandem nursing, the nipple soreness became unbearable for me. Really, I envy the moms who are able to nurse throughout pregnancy!
When our second child was born, still in Timor Leste, I thought breastfeeding would be easier for me. I didn’t expect that our little girl would have such a hard time latching on to me. Still, I persevered with the support of my mom and my husband, and breastfed our daughter beyond three years — again stopping only because I was pregnant.
I’m still breastfeeding our third child as of this writing. She’s three months old now and I hope to nurse her for as long as I can, just like her two older siblings. Ironically, the beginning of our breastfeeding journey was the rockiest of all due to inconsistencies in the hospital where she was born here in Manila (you can read about it here).