The picture you see above is my son, Felix, who will turn 15 months old next week. I am showing you this picture to illustrate what a 15 month old child looks like. To me, a child this age looks like a baby. And that is because he is one. He is a baby who walks some, but still needs to be carried most of the time. A baby who loves to be close to his mama, and still gets most of his nourishment from the breast. A baby who cannot talk beyond a few syllables, whose only way to express pain, frustration,Â lonelinessÂ or fear is through anÂ unintelligibleÂ wail. He is small. He is fragile. He is utterly dependent upon me, and upon a few people who care for him when I am able to take a wee break from being the be all and end all of this precious, tiny soul.
That's why I am sickened and revolted by the story of Habiba, a mother in Madrid, Spain. A woman who needed help, who turned to an organization that was promoted as being helpful, and instead of help her baby was ripped from her arms for no reason, except that she was practicing "extended breastfeeding." Â The World Health Organization recommendsÂ breastfeeding for two years and beyond, but the IMMF ignores this recommendation and, according to this article, requires them to take a drug that dries up their milk as part of a maternal skills program. The baby, Alma, was taken away from her mother who was then pushed out into the streets because she was no longer caring for a minor, and thus lost her place in the group home.
The fact that a mother who was making a good, recommendable choice for her daughter's care can lose custody of her child over it makes me physically ill. Â My head aches, my heart swells, my arms collapse at the thought of my sweet baby boy being taken away from me this way. The damage that is being done to this mother/child bond is not repairable. The agony that both mother and child must feel right now is unfathomable.
I keep going back to my sweet baby boy, who nurses almost exclusively for his nutrition. We offer him a wide variety of foods, some which he eats, some which he spits out. At his age eating is still a game. And every single time I have given him cows milke he has vomited later. I could try to find him a milkÂ substitute, but it seems expensive as well as pointless, when my body makes the perfect food for him for free. He is very healthy and happy. My breasts begin to swell and drip whenever we have been apart for a few hours...the physical pain Habiba must have experienced when her child was removed from her must have been horrific.
My baby boy is not a good sleeper. For most of the winter he slept tucked right next to my body, and unless he is in a very deep sleep he stirs and cries whenever we are not skin to skin. I don't know what Alma's sleeping patterns are like, but every young child needs the security of knowing their mother is nearby while they drift off to sleep. And Habiba's arms must be so empty...
Please, if you pray, pray for Habiba and Alma. And please join the Facebook page We Are Habiba for information on how you can help this cause. Â You can sign the petitionÂ here. Â Be advised that much of the information is in Spanish, but Google can translate. Please share this blog post, and any others you find. If we do not stand up for this mother who is in need, then who will stand up for us?