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A Benefit Not Found In Textbooks

Dorothy "Hyphen" Huffmanparent
Oklahoma City OK USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 21 No. 6, November-December 2004, p. 210-211

After my twin daughters were born, I was left all alone to find my way on this new path of motherhood. I had no friends in the area and I knew absolutely no one. My husband serves in the US Air Force and this was in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001. Early in my pregnancy, we were moved 2,000 miles away from our families. Complications left me on bedrest for a portion of my pregnancy. That, combined with my husband's odd and exhausting hours, kept me isolated. For a while I wasn't physically able to get out to meet people and after that, I simply didn't know where to go or what to do in a new place.

When Lily and Ellajolie were born two months premature, I felt even more alone and lost. When they finally did come home from the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), I was delighted. But I soon found we had huge difficulties with breastfeeding. I had no idea where to turn. They both suffered nipple confusion from bottles given in the hospital and they both had a weak suck. We were all frustrated and upset. At one point, I made a comment to my husband that I now understood why some people use formula. Luckily, I found a forum on the Internet where I posted in absolute desperation asking for help. Through that forum I found two local women, Cherri and Pixie, and who turned out to be the biggest sources of support I had ever known.

Cherri offered immediate support explaining exactly what I needed to do to get the girls to the breast. Through her, I eventually found a local La Leche League Group. I met her in person at my very first La Leche League meeting when my girls were nine months old. I was amazed by the large gathering of so many different women. I went home feeling excited and I announced then that this was something I definitely wanted to be a part of. I had no idea how essential that LLL Group would later become.

Initially, when Pixie offered her help on the message board, I thought I had found someone who really understood what I was going through. Her daughter suffered nipple confusion after being given a bottle in the nursery. It wouldn't take me all that long after that to realize I had found a best friend, too. I spoke to her on the phone shortly after she responded to me on the message board. We struck up a friendship and then met in person. The similarities between us have been amazing. In just two years, we’ve been through so much with each other. There simply aren’'t any words to explain what a blessing Pixie has been in my life. We’'ve had people ask us if we’re sisters and at this point, we simply answer, "Yes." Aside from the whole lack of a blood connection, we are. Pixie eventually came to a La Leche League meeting with me and we'’ve been fixtures there ever since.

Our local Group has brought some of the most wonderful people into my life. They’'ve gone above and beyond to help me and my family out. When I was not sure about the advice the pediatrician gave me about breastfeeding, I was able to find reliable medical information with my Leaders'’ help. When I just needed to commiserate and also celebrate parenthood, they were there for me. While I appreciated them, I didn’t fully realize yet just how wonderful they were.

Then my husband was deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We had less than three weeks notice. Early on, I had a difficult time and I turned to members of my La Leche League Group. I was amazed at their reactions. Some members brought us meals. Others invited us on outings. When I was alone with my girls and Lily needed a trip to the emergency room, it was Trish, one of the Leaders of the Group, who helped me realize that immediate care was necessary. She even met me at the hospital to help. She took Ellajolie home with her where Trish's family fed and entertained her. Trish then brought me dinner and stayed with me for hours in that hospital room. Through my husband's deployment, everyone from La Leche League was incredibly understanding and helpful. And when my husband came home, I had La Leche League members standing beside me holding signs and balloons.

I knew about all the textbook benefits of breastfeeding before I had children. Never did I dream breastfeeding would lead me to this wonderful group of women who would change my life -- our lives -- for the better. My life is so much richer because these women are a part of it.

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