Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Always plant the seed ...

In the late 1970s, a newly-migrated English mother found her experience at a Queensland baby health centre less than ideal. She was prompted to do something to make a change and decided to train as an infant welfare nurse. She and her family relocated down to Melbourne and by 1984, she was working in that role at a centre in Frankston.

Fate rolled the dice and in March, I duly began taking my first-born along to that same centre for her regular checks each week. And Liz was my nurse. I joined the new mums group she set up - leading to life-long friendships. I read the notices displayed on the wall about the local NMAA group which I had heard about at my antenatal class. But I was young - not yet 21 - and nervous. I needed a push. Liz pushed me. She said I would love Nursing Mothers and I should go along.

I finally got the nerve when Melissa was 10 weeks old and three pieces of puzzle fell into place to make me brave: Liz was going to be at the meeting as guest speaker. Breastfeeding Counsellor and Group Leader, Chris, I had met when she spoke at that antenatal class. And the meeting hostess Marg had been one of my favourite teachers at high school! So I went.

The rest, they might say, is history.

But it is also current: Chris is STILL a Breastfeeding Counsellor, with 30 years to my 20. Marg is still in my life as a Facebook friend. And Liz and I reconnected when the ABA Breastfeeding Centre where I work was set up in the community where she was working as coordinator of what is now known as Maternal & Child Health. For six years we have been working alongside each other toward a common goal - to improve breastfeeding rates in the community.

Yesterday, I was honoured to attend Liz's retirement function. I was not the only past-client of her's in attendance: Bernie had also been nurtured by Liz three years after me and her path led her into midwifery, where we worked together for many years as part of my weekly postnatal visits to the local hospital as a volunteer Breastfeeding Counsellor. And then she continued along her pathway and trained in MCH and is now stepping into Liz's shoes as acting coordinator!

So the lesson is - where you see potential growth, plant the seed and nurture its growth. It will mature and bloom under the care of others and, if you are lucky, one day you will see it blossoming and sewing seeds of its own.

I asked Liz to have her photo taken with me, to sit on the shelf alongside those with some other mentors of mine - Chris, Mary Paton who founded NMAA/ABA, Sheila Kitzinger who motivated my pregnancies and births and Pinky McKay who validated my parenting choices. All are women who carefully planted seeds and allowed them to grow and all women I call friends.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week :)

1 comment:

Pinky McKay said...

How special to have these lovely ladies in your life when you were a brand new mum, and how wonderful that you have kept on paying it forward and supporting so many mums - you are a wonderful mentor to mothers and all because a tiny seed was sown so many years ago. Isnt this a lesson that we never know how far those seeds will spread and flourish?