Friday, August 20, 2010

Dear Mary

Our last group meeting -- a World Breastfeeding Week celebration, where I gave Mary my letter of thanks for all her support through the first year of Cayden's life -- was nearly a month ago, but I was waiting for the photo of the group to post it.  So here it is...

July 29, 2010

Dear Mary,

I want to express to you my heartfelt thanks for all you do for the women and babies who come through Hershey’s breastfeeding and new moms groups. Perhaps you already know the uplifting strength you have brought to dozens – probably hundreds – of anxious first-time mothers over the years, but I want to personally thank you for helping me become a better mother to my first-born, Cayden.

A few weeks ago you asked me what advice I had for new moms “in the trenches” of the first weeks of motherhood and breastfeeding. I could not have been more honest in my reply when I said, “Go to the Tuesday breastfeeding group.” Your Tuesday group set the stage not only for our breastfeeding success (we made our goal of one year – not a drop of formula for this baby – and we’ll keep going as long as my boy is willing), but also for an open dialogue with been-there-done-that moms that granted me the hope I needed in the early, trying weeks.

Even nearly a year after my first Tuesday group, I vividly remember looking around the room, settling sight on a Mama and baby pair, and thinking to myself, “OK, that’s what four weeks looks like; I can make it to four weeks.” And later, “So that’s four months; I know we can get to four months.”

The shared experiences of other moms and the conversations in those Tuesday, then Thursday, groups granted me the regular escapes from the house and invaluable understanding and validation I didn’t even know I needed so desperately in the early months.

And the groups could not be the welcoming, supportive collections of women they are without your compassionate leadership. I can see the joy it brings you to help new generations of mothers share their experiences, learn from each other and become better, more informed and more considerate caretakers. And I am so grateful for the blessing of having met you and having benefited from your wisdom and support.

Your empathy is refreshing, your faith inspiring, your tenderness touching. Your clinical expertise combined with your own mothering and grand-mothering insight allow you to expertly nurture and encourage doubtful and discouraged new mothers, while your graceful disposition inspires hope and strength simply by radiating peace and serenity.

Thank you for helping me learn the difficult, yet infinitely rewarding lessons of patience and tenderness, maternal love and dedication. Thank you for listening, observing, validating, commiserating, motivating, uplifting.

Thank you for providing the forum that demonstrates twice a week the amazing influence one caring leader can have on the lives of countless moms and their littles, new pairs desperate for just such kindness, understanding and support.

Thank you for celebrating new mothers and new babies. Thank you for celebrating my son and I for the past year.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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