When you stand up and get your laptop and exclaim to the dog- “Right! Let’s do this!” – You know It’s going to be a good blog. Or a good passionate piece. Or a piece from the heart. Or a mini rant. Ok a big mother fu*ker of a rant to make myself feel better.
(I will side note before I start to say the following 2 statements-
Today has been a challenging day in the land of Motherhood. It could be partly due to the fact our toddler decided last night that 10.30PM was a new bed time to try, alongside the dog deciding to be the noisiest barkiest (even a word?? who knows!) pain in the arse ever known. So lets just say this Momma needs to vent. Unwind. And I do that with my fingers. Oh lord. Fingers on the keys you filthy animals.
Secondly- I am not, NOT an anti anyone person when it comes to motherhood. Truly. Except anti violence and being an asshole but you get my drift. I am nice, and I feel everyone should do what they want to do/what makes them happy yada yada. )
Right, where was I…..
So this is a post I have wanted to write since our little lady was born. 23 months ago. Yes I have wanted to write this for THAT long and I haven’t. Why you may ask? Well I’ve chickened out. And why have I chickened out of writing something on MY blog?
Because of the subject.
The subject of the immense ridiculous soul crushing ongoing pressure and guilt trip that is breastfeeding.
Or more catchiliy known as – The Battle of Feeding Your Baby.
But today, oh today, I thought F it. My blog, my thoughts, my opinions, my experiences and basically screw it.
Screw worrying people won’t like it, screw panicking distant friends might thing your an asshole, screw agonizing over whether I’ll get a bad comment and finally screw not saying what some or a lot of people, including myself would have loved to hear back in those ‘newborn struggling with it all stressed to hell’ first few weeks.
So with that upbeat and happy go lucky start- let’s begin.
I got pregnant and read the books and blogs. I listened to my midwife and friends and family. I talked to my husband and I took it all in. I was clear that I wanted to breastfeed this tiny growing human in my tummy. That was what I was going to do. I couldn’t wait to meet our tiny human and start breastfeeding her,, In fact scratch that last statement. It didn’t even enter into my head that ‘I had this’ because as far as I was aware- breastfeeding is a natural thing, an easy thing and everyone can do it. (-deluded pregnant asshole).
So I give birth and get our little lady on me and I look around the room almost seeking permission to give this breastfeeding lark a go, and I get the nurses attention and ask- “well should I feed her now?” She says “yes”, I’m like “OKkkkkk”- (again I got this remember) and I say “ok, well how??”. — I should add here to have practice massaging a knitted boob in a local council run ‘club house’ surrounded by my husband and 16 other strangers so I of course- have GOT this-– she says- “well just put her on your chest to your boob and go for it.” – OK simples.
Except it wasn’t. AT ALL.
I tried for a bit but she didn’t seem interested, so I tried some more. Then I had to stop trying and waddle my sore bits (sorry TMI) around the corridors, newborn and hubby in tow into a different part of the maternity unit with some other Mommas.
So I decided to try again as we had a few cries. But it wasn’t happening. I tried, well I’m not going to get too graphic, but let’s just say I positioned things and I assisted with boob leverage etc. Nope. Not having it. Okkkkkk- what now…..at this time our little lady had been around for about 4 hours. And I bet that little lady was hungry.
So we are in the room and we speak to the nurse who says she will get help and she sends in the big guns. The breastfeeding guru of the hospital as I like to call her. Now if any of the before felt a tad TMI then you may want to skip this bit….. She spent about 70 minutes, prob more, moving the baby from one boob to the next. Holding my boobs. Squeezing me in a way that did remind me of my knitted boob class experience, of course it wasn’t a knitted boob made by the elderly this time- it was my actual tit. She helped put babies mouth in place, got hubby to help, told me to move this way and that, and use a cushion or a towel. She went from side to side of the bed, baby in tow, moving, squeezing, propping things. All while I sat in bed, naked from the waist down not so many hours after giving birth.
And quite frankly it was the most invasive thing I have ever experienced, and this is from someone who had just given birth with a surgeon and 3 midwifes between her legs that were up in stirrups. So yeah- fun times.
Don’t get me wrong the woman was lovely and very ‘let’s do this!’ but it all felt a little surreal, rushed, and scary as hell. So after this 70 minutes or so we had some success. I am not going to use the world L.A.T.C.H.E.D. as that is my ‘moist’ word….you know the word people hate the sound of and sends them all funny. So shall we say the baby and me succeeded in our mission. So the guru left. She left after 20 seconds of baby starting to feed. And after she left we had a good solid 2 minutes of feeding. Wow. Big meal type stuff that is. I did let the nurses know but I know the guru was on her way home.
So fast forward to about 8 pm and it just wasn’t happening and I was an emotional mess inside. I was in a shared ward which joy of joys for me was filled with glorious breast feeding Moms. Pros, I thought. I actually remember the woman next to me saying to her family who piled in to see her- ‘Oh he just wants to eat and eat, he won’t stop feeding. its amazing.’ I also heard the lady over the side ask the nurse ‘if it was ok for her baby to eat this much.’ Oh and here’s me, sorry us, 2 minutes of feeding and 70 minutes of boob massaging later.
So I decided that if all was well with baby and me, I had to get the hell out of there. So all was well and we could leave. I told the nurse the baby hadn’t really fed and she said- ‘you’ll get there’….that type of shit. So I asked for formula advice in case it didn’t work, or in case it took time. The response- “We cant really talk about formula.” Erm okkkkkk. So my response- so I should just google types of formulas? her response- well you can do.
Fucking great. (language!! sorry)
So we leave at 10PM and drive to Tesco, my hubby runs in and grabs formula and a breast pump. Proper rock and roll late night Tesco dash I bet people thought. He- as dumb founded as me just chose the most expensive formula there was (Aptamil), and we headed home.
We settled in and I tried to pump at about 11.15PM, after we had managed to sterilize and build it that is. So I tried to pump. OH.MY.GOOD.LORD. No when warns you what that is going to feel like. and I am not sure I can explaie it. So I pumped for about an hour, and nope, nada, not much at all. So we realized that it was 1am, the first moments in our home with our new baby girl and she had fed for 2 minutes (not even sure she had fed to be honest), in 11 hours. She wasn’t upset as she was a pretty chilled newborn but hey it was time. So we made some formula and gave her that. She liked it, duh course she did. So we tried her with the teeny dribble of amount of bit of breast milk I got from pumping- she liked it, duh course she did.
So the story goes for the next 2 weeks ish I continued to try to pump, we brought 3 pumps in total and I found a good one in the end that was still painful and uncomfortable as shit, but worked. I mixed feeds and tried to get her to breastfeed direct from me. We saw health visitors, midwifes and breast feeding experts at home. We even had an unexpected house call at 9 am on a Sunday morning from a breast feeding expert and a midwife as I had requested help. 9am….on a Sunday….unexpected…….a week after having bringing home your newborn baby….. well lets just say it may as well have been 4 am on a 8 foot of snow Christmas Eve night because I was NOT HAPPY. So I told them to come back and politely to give me some DAMN NOTICE NEXT TIME! So, you know can put a bra on, oh and some pants to mention it (and no, not the American pants like as in trousers- I mean the UK pants- underwear, cover my arse and all that). So yeah. We saw a lot of people but baby wasn’t L.A.T.C.H.I.N.G. (uhhhhh…..shudders)* on very well or at all. And I wasn’t pumping enough to just give her just that.
And then I saw one woman, a midwife or health visitor I think, who I broke down on. A total stranger, in our home, who I broke down on. Me- the strong hold it together type- broke down on her. Cried, like hella ugly cried. And she said- firstly get a damn tissue womam! Ha no she didn’t- she said- “It’s OK. Your feeding your baby. Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, half and half feed, your are feeding your baby.”
And at that moment I decided enough was enough, I wasn’t happy every time I fed our baby because I was worrying it wasn’t enough, I was worried about the next feed and how to fit pumping in between, I was worrying that she was being poisoned by the damn amazing quality formula, I was worried she would hate my in the future and I was worried we wouldn’t bond and my want for us to be BFFs for life wouldn’t happen because I didn’t breastfeed her. I worried all my hopes and dream I had for her would fall through as I was ‘sure’ I could do this when I was pregnant. I worried I was a failure as a mother.
And I wasn’t happy. I was sad. I had brought life into the world, into my husband and my world and she was amazing and beautiful and so special and I wasn’t enjoying it. I wasn’t feeding her and looking into her eyes and relaxing with her, I was worrying and stressing and recalling the advice and the hospital advice and worrying about people judging. And I knew that wasn’t right.
So I stopped. that moment I stopped. And it felt like that biggest f’ing weight off my shoulders you could ever imagine. Truly. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I pretty much threw the breast pump out the damn window (so long sucka!! #literatly) and stocked up on formula and we both decided that it was the right thing to do.
And, as dramatic as its sounds, our lives changed.
We could finally enjoy feeding our baby, and yes WE could as my hubby could hold this tiny person and look into her eyes as he fed her. I could relax while I fed her and take 5 and just take a damn breather. I could see my Mother and family feed my daughter and see the love for her. I could finally feel ok with this feeding lark. I felt like I was now allowing myself to be happy and enjoy those precious newborn moments without worry.
So that was my story. And we did that till she stared cows milk and food obviously. And all is fine. Better than fine to be fair. We do have a bond, an immense one in fact, as does my husband and her.
But alas, like any long winded story (ok rant) that isn’t where it ends. Nope, I didn’t just wrote this to share my boob filled stressy first weeks of motherhood with you, no, its more than that.
I was spurned on to write this by something I saw on the internet. It was pro breastfeeding thing. And the comments. (Don’t you just love comments on the internet!!)
I was inspired to write this because I am SICK TO SHIT of the ongoing pressure and generalizations people have about NOT breastfeeding your child. We see it all the time, comments about the extra special bond you get. How a baby is getting what nature wants them to have, how they are getting the good vitamins that only moms milk can provide. We see people saying that we should embrace breastfeeding and there should be no shame in feeding in public. We see posters and companies about the joys of breast feeding. We hear midwifes and nurses praising breastfeeding to moms to be, new moms and moms of 4 kids, We hear from strangers how they breastfed their kids and look at them now. We see celebrities having ‘causal’ uber glamorous photos taken while breastfeeding there kids while on the set of Vogue.
We hear it all. We see it all.
And you know what…It’s true. All those things I listed are true. If you breastfeed you do get a special bond with your baby. It is what nature intended our tittes to do. It is ok, great in fact for Moms to feed in public ( I mean why the hell not). It is a beautiful and photo shoot worthy thing to do. Its all of those things. And I truly believe It’s amazing thing to do, and any Mommas out there who breastfeed are amazing and warriors and just generally rock stars.
But do you know what?
So are Mommas who bottle feed. Or half and half. Or solely pump.
Their rockstars and warriors and simply amazing too. They have a special bond with their baby. They are photo shoot worthy and should be able to feed wherever the hell they want to.
However you feed your baby is amazing and fine. Whether you’re the woman who struggles to breastfeed so solely pumps, or the woman who uses formula because she couldn’t breastfeed. Or if your the woman who solely breastfeeds or the woman who just didn’t want to breastfeed or the woman who bottle feeds so your husband can help. Or if you the woman who just enjoys giving your baby a bottle. Its all amazing.
We know this because, deep down, regardless whether you favor one type of feeding over the other, we are all intelligent woman of the world and we know that all mothers are pretty amazing. So if that’s the case then why write this-
Well because one type of feeding still gets talked about as the superior feeding type. And its sucks and I’m over it. As someone who struggled to breastfeed my baby, but desperately wanted to, I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach when I see things or people stating that breastfeeding has given them ‘an amazing bond’. Or when I see the phrase ‘breast is best’ being thrown around everyhwere, because that means that, in basic terms- i don’t have that bond. And I not doing the best for our child.
When I know I did, and I am.
I feel like it seems to be ok to use certain statement to promote breastfeeding- like breast is best, and your baby is getting what they need, what nature intended. Yet it isn’t ok to use these statements about some other things related to this crazy thing called Motherhood.
We don’t see these passive aggressive posters and statements, health professionals pushing advice etc surrounding babies sleep or foods. Or potty training or whether to send them to nursery or not.
Take sleep for example. (Ohhhh sleep Zzzzzzzzzzs….) At 5 weeks old our little snoozer started to sleep through the night. (Lucky cow I know- the toddlerhood late nights now are making up for it now trust me.) Now I would never dream of posting a picture etc, of her sleeping with the phrases- sleeping through the night because momma rocks, #getting her 10 hours in a night because that’s what best for her development and etc etc. I would never.
Because that would 1- make me an asshole and 2- because I know that it may hurt someone’s feelings or just piss them off.
Just like we don’t get told by health professionals to make sure the baby sleeps through the night because its ‘easy’ and ‘is good for the baby’ and ‘only natural’. (Mainly because I am pretty sure they would get a slap!). We don’t see online campaigns pushing sleep through the night quotes in our face. No, because that would be wrong.
Now please tell me what is the difference in health professionals/ society/ the online world or just people, praising up and preaching how important babies sleep patterns are in this sometimes very passive aggressive way?
Yet in this warped out dated breastfeeding obsessed Motherhood world we live in, It still seems to be ok to do this with breastfeeding.
And guess what- it makes some of feel like shit.
Now I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be able to express how proud they are of their breastfeeding journeys, definitely not, shout it from the rooftops. And I’m not saying midwifes shouldn’t be able to express that this is what nature intended and so on. I am simply saying there has to be a balance, a moment of thought for those who struggled with it, or are struggling. For those who weren’t interested of those who just plain didn’t want to. There needs to be a variety of options available and opinions allowed.
I think that we should see more- ‘pro choice’ regarding feeding our babies. In hospitals, doctors offices, pamphlets, facebook, newspapers – everywhere. Positive building you up type shit. Whether you can breastfeed or cant, or choose not too or want to formula feed or pump exclusively. It would be so refreshing to see some –’Feed your baby-here’s all the options type of thing.’ Instead of pushing the one option on us, that yes a lot of us want to do.
We should also get rid of this ridiculous ideal that breastfeeding is easy and everyone can do it. Perhaps It’s time we were told realistically about breastfeeding before we have a baby. And yes, of course tell us all about the help out there, and all about the perseverance. But also tell us about the other options. And not to beat ourselves up If It doesn’t work for us.
I couldn’t and out of my group of friends who have had babies, the majority had issues. In fact nearly every single person I know had some issue. And the majority of those women felt like shit about it when they were simply trying their best, which saddens me.
It should be ok for midwifes and hospital nurses to talk about formula and other options because we are just trying to feed our babies If we cannot or choose not to breastfeed. The formula stigma is a whole other conversation that I wish would do one, but that needs to change also. I was told that they cannot advertise formula on the TV, hence the disclaimers about breastfeeding being best. You may not have noticed that all the formula adverts you see are for the stage 2 milks or toddler milks. Not newborn stuff. That’s madness on another level and I won’t get into another rant about that!
I hope this post has come across the right way. I took so long to post is a I didn’t want it to come off negative in view towards breastfeeding, but hopefully from the start of this post you will see I am anything but that. After all it is what I wanted to do. But equally there are women out there who don’t want to breastfeed and it is just as important that they do not feel guilt tripped by people, health professionals, online and society etc, because they chose not too. So here goes- I am taking a bold step posting this and I hope it is viewed in the right way. That’s all i can hope for.
So let me end on this. A small note to any new Moms out there….
If your plans to feed one way do not go to plan or you change your mind then please, I beg you, do not feel bad about it. Do what is right for you. Do what you want to do. If that’s breastfeeding, great. If that’s bottle feeding, great. If its pumping, great. If its half and half, great. Just enjoy your first moments with your new baby and don’t let worry and stress take those precious moments away. You deserve to relax and not feel the weight of society and peoples ideals on your shoulders.
Just take care of you baby (and yourself), feed them however you can/want to and remember this-
We are all Rockstars. Regardless of the milk source.
Love (and lots of it this time)
Lady Like Momma
(*And NO- I am NOT freaked out by babies latching on to feed or any of those types of things, I just don’t like the way the word Latched sounds! Another not so favoured word of mine is Smooching….Shudders again.)