11 July 2017

My year of breastfeeding

I know what you’re thinking… Oh no, not another post wanging on about getting your tits out. I promise this is not a glossy, rose tinted article that only talks about the positive side of breastfeeding, this is a reflection on my year breastfeeding my second son, Fox. As we celebrate Fox’s first birthday, I wanted to share with you and reflect on the past year and in particular our year of the boob.

So a year ago our second son Fox was born. Much like his brother he was eager to make a swift entrance into the world. After Marley was nearly born in the car outside the hospital, the kind midwives suggested maybe I should consider a home birth for baby number two. It was already something that interested me and so we did our research and before we knew it nine months had passed and my husband Simon was blowing up the birthing pool.

The Leeds homebirth team were excellent, I have nothing but praise for their kindness, professionalism and experience. It’s just a shame they missed the birth. Fox, like his big brother was in such a hurry to meet us, so it was down to my husband to deliver our baby. Whilst Simon was concerned about the water temperature and the water level, I sternly told him to forget all that as our little one was on the way. With the homebirth team rushing to reach us and 999 on speakerphone, we somehow delivered a baby all on our own. Simon was so calm, he scooped up our little one and lay him on my chest. He was here. Our little Fox, the final piece in our family puzzle. Two minutes later and we soon realised we were no longer alone. The midwives and the emergency services were in our lounge with us. Thanks guys but we totally had it covered. 

So here we are, a family of four. As most parents will know the first days, weeks and sometimes months with a newborn can be a bit foggy. Foggy in the sense that you’re exhausted, shell-shocked, things are a bit messy down there and you’ve got a new little person to look after. The homebirth team were excellent. They stayed with us making sure Fox and I were doing well and that we had established some feeding. This time around things felt so much more calmer and relaxed. When Marley was born I had thought so much about the birth, I hadn’t really thought too much about the ‘looking after’ and the important feeding part. I didn’t know what I was doing. Words like ‘hand expressing’ and ‘colostrum’ were being thrown at me and I didn’t understand, I was emotional and felt confused and worried.

With a second baby it can be a little more reassuring because you know what you're in for. However, it doesn’t necessarily make things easier. With Fox I found comfort in knowing that if I felt a bit wobbly it was ok. It was ok to get upset and it was ok to be in your Pj's all day. I couldn’t escape the sore, cracked nipples, the mastitis and the feeling of just wanting to give up on breastfeeding. That was still very much there.

Breastfeeding did not come naturally to me. I’m not the kind of super mother who casually whips out their breast and the baby latches perfectly. This image is not something I experienced and I doubt that this is in fact the case for any new mum. It takes time to understand and make it work for you and baby. Getting help was key for me. Something that first time around with Marley was lacking. Again, the Leeds homebirth team were fabulous in their support. I met an amazing breastfeeding expert called Heather. Her approach and her wisdom is the reason I kept on going in the early stages. She came into our home and spent a few hours at a time helping me with positioning, expressing and really listening and helping me. I look back and think if it wasn’t for this early stage support I don’t know if we’d have continued. It really does make a difference. I think what also has changed though is my willingness to hold my hand up and ask for help. As a new mum it can feel scary at times and you often just want to hide in your little bubble and you might not even want to admit you need help. If this is you I urge you to have the confidence and be brave. Simon made me laugh, on one of Heather’s visits he said to me that I’d changed. I was laying on our bed with only my pants on and Heather was kindly showing us laid back feeding (check out biological nurturing, it really helped us). Simon said I’d never have done that before. Now i’m not for one minute suggesting you get down to your pants when the midwife comes to visit, but what I would say is don’t be afraid to do what’s right for you and baby and seek that help in whatever shape or form that may be. 

The first few days are really hard, they seem to drag into weeks and sometimes months. A dear friend of mine gave me some great advice. Just take each feed as it comes. Don’t put pressure on yourself and set yourself too high a goal -  e.g. ‘I’m going to breastfeed for six months”. Just take each day at a time, each feed at a time. It wasn’t until we were about 10-12 weeks in that I really noticed a difference. We’d gone from awkward nipple latch wrestling, to less of a struggle and more at ease with feeding. Having an older son made it difficult at times, but Marley understood I was feeding Fox and didn’t get jealous, he was just very curious and asked lots of questions and soon ‘boobs’ became as popular a buzz word along with ‘poo’. What is it with boys and the word poo?

Simon and I found we were spending a lot of time apart, with night feeds becoming all night raves, we decided it would be better for him to get some rest so he could actually function at work. So Simon did what most Dad’s do and was confined to the spare bedroom. Whilst this meant he got some rest, I was still up all night with Fox and we were soon ships passing in the night. Simon spent more time with Marley and I became the feeding machine. There were times when I resented breastfeeding. I didn’t get to spend quality time with Simon and Marley and our family puzzle was being split in the middle. One night we had a proper conversation and three words came out of both our mouths, and it’s probably not what you’d expect - “I feel lonely”. This sounds so crazy, we have the perfect little family and we feel like this. Lonely because Fox was solely reliant on me, lonely because we never saw each other and lonely because Simon was missing out on the bonding experience with Fox. I’d got so focused on getting the breastfeeding thing right, I hadn’t even considered that Simon might be missing out. See with Marley, we did combination feeding. I did some breastfeeding in the early months and then we went to bottle feeding pretty quickly. It’s funny because it has taken me a long time to feel comfortable saying that out loud, like it’s a sin or something - ‘my goodness, she’s given up breastfeeding and given him formula!!”  Marley is four and I can finally have the confidence to say this, isn’t that just so silly?

But this is how my mind was working. Anyway, back to Dad and Fox. He missed feeding him and having that experience that he had with Marley. Gosh, I was so short-sighted in my quest for breast success. It’s not just about the mum, baby and the boobs, what about the Dad’s too?

We’ve done a lot of talking since and I think again that is something that really does help. Saying something outloud to your parenting partner in crime has that magical thing of relieving the burden. And despite Fox’s keen appetite for the boob buffet, we have found great ways for us all to spend time together.

Despite telling you not to set big breastfeeding goals, I completely ignored my own advice and had hoped to get to a year. I had this vision that it would feel like a massive achievement, party time! But a year is now here and although I’m really proud (and breastfeeding should absolutely be celebrated), it's not that mega booby party I thought it would be. See, I’m quite embarrassed to admit it but a small part of me thought that being able to breastfeed would make me a good mum. I’m not sure where this came from, it was probably that foggy post-partum phase, coupled with all the conflicting information and the pressure you sometimes feel. I absolutely know this is not true. Being a good mum is so much more than how you feed your child.

So the highs and the lows from this past year? The highs have got to be seeing our gorgeous sons growing up together. And as for the lows, to be honest you begin to forget the lows. It feels pretty shitty at the time but life has a habit of moving on quite quickly. In the early days the question of choice from good meaning friends, family and even strangers was “Are you breastfeeding?” now the question is…. “Are you still breastfeeding?” Sometimes I can’t work out if thats a leading question or a statement - depending on who asks (I can usually tell by their facial expression). In answer to all of this, I’m not sure when the boobing will stop. All I can say is that I’ve learnt so much in this year and I’m really proud of what we have all achieved together as a family. See, breastfeeding is not just about mummy and baby, it’s your entire circle of support too and I’m so lucky to have such an amazing husband, family and friends that have all supported us on this little journey.

Happy 1st Birthday to our little Fox. Here’s to you and our great adventures together.

Love Mama x

Written by Victoria from @mamaandthedudes 

No comments

Post a Comment

Blog Layout Designed by pipdig