Early on in my pregnancy, I decided that I would like to try to exclusively breastfeed my baby. I don’t know if I ever could have been prepared for how emotional breastfeeding would be. Nobody could have possibly warned me. When other moms ask me about breastfeeding I often joke that I will never tell my daughter not to cry over spilled milk, because I certainly have.
When it comes to breastfeeding-friendly fashion, you’re probably feeling a wee bit limited right about now. So when I ran across these bad-ass nursing shirts from Etsy seller And Out Come The Boobs (h/t to reader Colleen!), I knew I HAD to share them. These thrifted tees are upcycled with zippers to allow access for your up-and-coming punk babies.
At six months my son bit me while I was trying to nurse him on a plane, and I nearly threw him onto my husband’s lap and said, “That’s it, I am done.” I went exclusively to pumping and supplemented with formula. To this day, nearly three years later, I still feel angry and betrayed by my body.
I really want all new moms to know that for some breastfeeding comes naturally. For others it is the most difficult, frustrating, and demoralizing experience in their lives. That coupled with sleep deprivation, postpartum depression, and life in general, and you can find yourself in an awful place emotionally, mentally, and physically…
I’ve been thinking a lot about being mindful — about how to be as present as I can. Then I realize I am thinking so much about being present that I am letting it distract me from BEING present! So tonight, I tried a little exercise based on one of the mindfulness practices I learned during childbirth preparation: see, hear, feel, breathe.
I don’t know how it is in other countries and cultures, but breastfeeding brings out a lot of emotions in this country, mainly of discomfort. The idea that breasts, the symbol of female sexuality, should provide the ultimate nourishment to babies, the symbol of innocence, just seems, so, well, unnatural. Before I had children, I thought I was OK with nursing babies, but the idea of a toddler nursing was, if not obscene, at least weird — a kid being able to ask to nurse! I vowed to be discreet, not to make anyone else uncomfortable. I still remember my cousin feeding her baby during a wedding reception when I was a kid. While she was talking to my father! I wouldn’t do that in front of any of my uncles.
Her kids have always slept through the night, and even if they don’t, she still manages to look like she has had eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. There is always a well-balanced, home-cooked meal on her dinner table. She either happily stays at home or holds down a fulfilling job while still finding time to join the PTA, run the school’s book sale, and makes it to every single soccer game. She is usually white, middle to upper class, heterosexual, and neither too young nor too old. But above all… she’s a myth. And it’s this myth that divides women and pits mothers against each other while fueling the flames of the manufactured “mommy wars.”
In my cancer story, the diagnosis and treatment was a huge, out-of-nowhere inconvenience in an otherwise fabulous life that I believed I had the right to see fulfilled. And I didn’t need to breastfeed my son to fill him with all the potential of a healthy young man. Except in MY mothering story, I had to do everything possible to nurse him, simply because I wanted to, I was driven to. I believed it was my right.
Before I had my baby, I had a lot of plans and expectations based around an unmedicated birth and high hopes for a water birth. This didn’t seem unfeasible as the pregnancy had been entirely uncomplicated. I hadn’t bought a pram, preferring a Kari Me sling. I was planning to wear the baby all the time, breastfeed all the time (after all it’s free and if you’re on limited finances that’s pretty important) and was overall looking forward to it.