I’ve spent over three years of my life, to date, breastfeeding my children. Bo is my longest and we’re still feeding at 14 months. I didn’t really think we would go that long, but I don’t think either of us are ready to quite give up just yet. As today brings World Breastfeeding Week to a close, I wanted to share a little letter or poem, I’m not really sure what it is really, I just started to write it and actually I felt quite emotional by the time I have finished. I’m not anti-formula in the least, all of my children have had it at some point in their lives, but they have been predominantly breastfed and it’s not always easy. In fact, sometimes it’s downright hard. To all those breastfeeding Mummas out there, wherever you are in your journey, this one is for you.
To The Breastfeeding Mumma
It’s the middle of the night, it feels like you’re the only one awake in the world, you’re tired and can’t see straight, but your baby is crying. The last thing you want to do is get up, but you pull down your top and your baby contentedly latches on happy and safe.
Keep going Mumma
You’ve sat down for your dinner and you’re just so hungry, but baby has other ideas and shouts out in hunger too. You reluctantly put your food back in the oven and settle down for a feed. Your baby cooes in gratitude in time with your tumbling tummy.
You’ve got this Mumma
Your boobs ache, they’ve leaked and you have an embarrassing stain on your top, the next latch makes you wince, but you’re just so grateful for them being emptied. The room around you is the messiest you have ever seen it and you haven’t found time for a shower. But you take a deep breath and that amazing smell greets you, your baby looks up and gazes into your eyes and it’s ok.
Stay strong Mumma
It’s cluster feed time, a whirl of feed, after feed and super quick dashes to the bathroom, looking sadly at your cold tea and grateful for the remote control. You feel like your body isn’t your own and just want to hand the baby over to your partner for a while. Just when you feel like you can’t do this anymore, their eyes roll back in milk drunken happiness and you smile in relief.
Well done Mumma
You’re just so sore, you can’t decide whether to feed or pump. Each latch feels like there’s glass in your baby’s mouth. It’s so bad, your milk is slightly pink, you worry if it’s safe. You clench your bum with each latch as a tear trickles down your face. The doctor has given you medicine and you wonder how quick it will work, if you can manage to carry on until it does. If you can take another feed like this.
It’s ok to cry Mumma
The health visitor’s coming, you’re dreading the scales. Has baby gained or have they lost, are you doing it right? Is your baby getting enough. You’re anxious, you’re tired, you’re worried and scared.
Have faith Mumma, have faith. You’re doing your best
You’re out for coffee, you keep desperately rocking the pram, but you know in your heart your time is up. You’re going to have to lift that top, unclick that bra and feed right here, right now. You look around wondering if anyone is watching, worried about an unwanted nipple flash or an unkind comment. But baby is frantic and you do what needs to be done. Your baby silences immediately, content and full of love.
Be proud Mumma
Your baby has been diagnosed with an allergy, the doctor has given you a list of all the foods you cannot eat if you want to carry on feeding. You are completely overwhelmed, frightened and don’t know where to even start. You go to the supermarket and look at all the food in bewilderment. You pick up one item and you just start there. Then another and another, doing what needs to be done, because that’s what mothers do.
Be brave Mumma
You’re just so sick, your stomach is cramping. You put your baby down somewhere safe while you heave into the toilet bowl. Your head is thumping, you’re shivering and your baby steadfastly refuses a bottle. You finish your heaving and flush the toilet, you curl up and find the strength from somewhere to feed your hungry child. You take sips of water hoping it will stay put and it will hydrate you in order to make enough milk.
We all have bad days Mumma, you’re stronger than you know
You want to go out, you’ve tried multiple brands of bottles and cups, but your baby just loves Mum’s boobs too much. You’re frustrated as you want to escape just for a few hours into the world of adulthood, with hot food and normal conversation. You decide to go anyway, dreading that phone call, watching the clock for baby’s feed time, hoping you can make it back in time. Which of course you do and it’s absolutely fine, but if only they would take a bottle just once in a while
Look at what you’ve achieved Mumma, look how your baby has grown all because of you
Your baby is poorly, they’re teething, they’re ill. Their fever is climbing, it’s giving you a chill. You pull out the calpol, you rock and you pace and then you sit down and remember the comfort they crave. As soon as they latch on, they relax and settle down, rocking in the comfort of your arms.
Isn’t nature amazing Mumma?
You’ve got the bottles lined up and the steriliser on the counter. Maybe you’re going to introduce one bottle just for a break, maybe you’ve tried your best and your journey has come to an end. You feel sad, you feel frustrated, you feel relieved.
You’ve done your best, you’re amazing Mumma
Your baby grins at you over the top of your boob. While simultaneously trying to pull your hair and kick your belly. They’re hardly taking any milk now, more interested in running around and looking at books than having any milk. Your baby is strong, happy and brave. They’re crawling, they’re running, they’re climbing. They’re safe. That time comes for that very last suck, to pack away your nursing bras and you can’t whether to celebrate or cry. Either’s fine.
You did it Mumma, you did it