Theresa Shares Her Breastfeeding Experiences.
My name is Theresa Tobaben and I have three children, Danielle, Alex and Reese (pictured from left to right). I gave birth to my daughter, Danielle, at eighteen years of age. I didn’t know much but I knew that breast milk was the best nutrition for my baby and it didn’t cost a thing. Even back then, in 1977, I knew what good nutrition was and I ate only healthy foods through my pregnancy.
I continued on a healthy diet while breastfeeding my daughter. I breastfed her for about four months and then moved her on to baby foods. If I had known back then what I know now, I would have continued with breastfeeding for much longer. She is now a very smart, healthy and beautiful woman. Though I had very little support and was young and naïve, I figured out on my own that breastfeeding would give my new baby the colostrum, antibodies and simple nutrition that every baby should have when they are born.
I was able to breastfeed my first son, born in 1987, for about five months. I was told by my mother and by doctors that he was not gaining enough weight and to stop breastfeeding. I was heartbroken because I loved my baby so much and was trying so hard to do the right thing. I now know that, if I had just a little support, I could have continued to breastfeed.
Of course, I was concerned for my son and began to supplement breast milk with formula and other soft foods. I would not have used formula if I knew what I know today; but at least I knew that for the first six months of his life he received the important nutrients and antibodies that breast milk provides. He is now 6’6” and a very strong, healthy and intelligent man!
My youngest son was born in 1999. It was a tumultuous time as my husband and I separated and I could not be with my baby everyday. I was devastated. How was I going to continue to breastfeed? Long story short, between pumping and breastfeeding, I gave my son breast milk for the first fifteen months of his life despite the fact I couldn’t see him daily. There was an issue with his teething and so after about eight months I primarily pumped milk for him. I had bottles of it in the refrigerator and freezer that his father could also feed him. I was like a milking cow – so much milk was produced and it is due to the stimulation of that pump. It was not the ideal situation but my son is now 16, a senior in high school (skipped a grade) and has a 4.6 GPA. He is 6’5 and so healthy and strong! Okay, I’m not saying this is all due to breast milk but I will say that I would go through it all again to give my kids the best start possible. Life can be tough – start it with breast milk! And pass down what you know to others, as I did to my daughter Danielle.
Pictured are three generations of family. From left to right is Danielle, Joan Anastasi (Danielle’s 89-year old grandmother) and Theresa Tobaben (Danielle’s mom). Out of seven children Joan successfully breastfed only one child, and that was Theresa. She raised children during a time breastfeeding was discouraged and most babies were delivered when the mother was knocked out with ether (as was the case with all seven of Joan’s babies).