But my husband and I made the decision that I would stay home with the baby to nurse the baby and take care of the baby (now babies). It was a long, hard decision, and one that evolved over the period of my first (unpaid) 12 week maternity leave where I just cried and fretted a lot, trying to imagine how on earth I was supposed to leave this baby with anyone but me and return to work.
Wanting to be available to nurse my baby was THE strongest reason for not returning to work. It was a really primal feeling, a mothering 'instinct', that I could not 'abandon' this baby, and I needed to do whatever I could to stay close by, even 'attached' if possible.
And luckily, my husband supported me and continues to support me (and all 6 of us now, poor guy!) and luckily, we are able to make do and get by.
Do I believe breastfeeding can reduce your child's risk of athsma or allergies or obesity or make them smarter or more secure? Do I believe that breastfeeding is full of antibodies that protect your newborn? Do I believe that breastmilk is better for your baby than any man-made batch of chemicals, preservatives and sweeteners? I guess the simple answer is yes. Am I a breastfeeding fascist? Possibly.
But you know what? Any 12 year old can feed your baby a bottle. Any daycare can sit your baby in a swing and keep your baby 'safe' till you come to retrieve it. But only the Mama can nurse. And the intangibles, the cuddling, the nurturing, the closeness and yumminess that is integral to nursing, that is what is so special and that is why I am home with these kids. I am available to these kids and I give them 'quantity time', which may be as important or even more important than 'quality time'. I am a 'given' and I value that more than a sleek stroller, and more than oversized sunglasses and more than going to Disneyworld.
And more than a new couch. Sigh.