The year is 1963. I remember being 10 years old, snooping through my mother's closet and finding a pale pink baby book with my birth certificate tucked inside. As I opened the book, a small card fell out. My mother told me it was my "crib card." It read "Baby Girl Raschke, born March 11 at 11:53 pm, weight 7 lbs. 8 ounces." In the corner of the card was the word "Breast." My mother explained that she breastfed me. Thinking that all babies were fed from a bottle, I asked her why. She responded that our family could not afford to buy formula.
That discussion was my first experience with breastfeeding.
It certainly is not my last. My mother died before I gave birth to my first child. I never had another breastfeeding discussion with her, although in 1981, when my first child was born, I breastfed him. There were no breastfeeding classes, no lactation consultants and no help in the hospital. I was always a bit short on milk and even though I could afford formula, I breastfed for over a year.
As I celebrate my birthday this month, I think back to my mother and my birth. In 1953 mothers spent ten days in the hospital with their newborns and were actively discouraged from breastfeeding. I wonder if my mother felt ashamed she could not afford to formula feed me? I like to think she was secretly happy about it. I was her ninth baby, and only three of us lived past the newborn period. My story is that my mother was so happy to have me that she decided to listen to her mothering instincts. Happy Birthday, Mom. And, thanks!