Little Sunday story time by Chaneen
I ventured into new land when I became a mother. Motherhood: a long and tumultuous journey, a long and beautiful journey. Either way it is a journey one that begins long before we find that we are with child.
Some say, motherhood begins when we are but a child, being held at the bosom of our own mother. Others say it comes to us when we imagine ourselves smiling down at our babies one day.
For me, it begun once upon a time when I was a small girl. My best friend’s mother had a small baby and he breastfed. As he grew people said some things to her about it, sarcastic or mean you take your pick, but she kept on doing what she wanted. And I thought nothing of it.
I didn’t know what the baby was doing or why, nobody explained it to me. I just knew it was what they did. I noticed that he would often go to feed when he was feeling left out (being the youngest one) or when he had hurt himself. Now, I understand that It was his comfort and his mama was happy to comfort him whenever he needed it.
After that, I never saw it again, never even heard of it. Until I was 36 weeks pregnant, I had never heard the term ‘breastfeeding’ at all.
✨At 36 weeks I was signed up to go to a few antenatal classes. The breastfeeding workshop was on at the hospital and I only agreed to go because it was one of the free ones. I didn’t think it was important at all because I still did not know what it was.
I had already brought a series of bottles and I was excited to try different formulas to see which one my unborn baby would like best.
I went along to the class one afternoon, I was happy to be around other pregnant women but I hoped that the class wouldn’t last too long, I wanted to go home to sleep. I had only just made enough of a fuss to be allowed out of work for this- but really, getting a nice nap in was my goal.
Once the class started, I was drawn in. It was as if someone had lassoed my attention and pulled me right in.
I learned that brand new babies could crawl up their mothers tummies and they could latch on to breastfeed. I learned that lots of women find latching difficult but there was a technique- a secret. I learned that breast milk was medicine, as well as food, as well as a sedative, as well as antibiotics, as well as moisturiser. I was reassured that it’s the most normal way to feed my baby but perhaps in our society the least common way. I learned about the statistics in other countries compared to my own, the UK.
I was determined to breastfeed. I was sure to leave,l the class, return the bottles to mothercare and do nothing but breastfeed. Nothing But Breastfeed!
I felt accomplished for weeks. I most certainly would breastfeed, and it would be easy because I knew how to do it.
✨At 40 weeks plus 2 days my baby was born. My sweet sweet little girl that would crawl up to my breasts by herself and feed.
But I was on the floor. They placed her on my chest and I just could not get over how sticky she was. I was sweating and my vagina was so stingy. I didn’t want them to be touching me down there and I didn’t want the baby on me while I was hot and in such an awkward position. Then someone suggested we move to the bed, relief. But they took the baby (just for a moment) but I wasn’t happy that she was taken of my chest before she latch herself on.
Finally we were in bed, I pooped a vest on and got my boobs out. Wow. My boobs were bigger then her head. How is she going to breathe? I thought. Her mouth is so teeny tiny, how? How ? How?
Despite all these thoughts swirling about in my head, I latched her on, onto my nipple! And it hurt. My other half was poking bits of my boob out of the way so that she was able to breathe and the midwife said that she’d be back soon.
Throughout the night they came in intermittently and helped me to change positions to help us along with feeding. But Jasmine was chomping away at me nonstop all night long.
I was happy, in pain, but happy.
I topped her up with a tiny bottle of formula the first night home - because we weren’t sure she was getting enough. And of course she slept. And of course, I was anxious that she’d prefer formula, rubbish sh*tty formula, that wasn’t from me. I felt undone. The next time someone suggested formula I bit their head of and begun to pump bloody milk. Bloody, my nipples were bleeding but it was fine for her to drink so if she needed a top up this is what she would drink. This, we didn’t use formula again.
We didn’t get the hang of breastfeeding really for another 6 weeks. Six weeks of pain, six weeks of bleeding, cracked nipples, six weeks of sleepless nights, of feeling like a failure. Six weeks of determination though, all because of that breastfeeding class. I knew I’d get there one day. And we did.
We kept going peacefully until I got pregnant with Ocean and I tried to stop. But Jasmine, she wasn’t ready to stop at all. Our nights became a battle field of emotions. She screamed, I cried, we sat up and tried to distract ourselves with TV, midnight meals, star gazing but nothing worked.
What killed me the most wasn’t just how often she would wake to battle but it was my emotions. I was alone at night with her, fighting, crying, praying and in the day people would say things; “you should stop breastfeeding” “it’ll help if she isn’t breastfeeding by the time the baby gets here” “well, I can’t help you because she’s breastfeeding”. No one acknowledged how tough I was finding ALL OF LIFE because of this transition. Not only was I pregnant and pumped full of crazy hormones daily, I was fighting for my life every single night.
I told myself I’m not going to breastfeed my second daughter so long, I’ll stop before she can protest like this, some breast milk is better than nothing.
✨Again, at 40 plus two days my baby was born. At home. If I thought Jasmine’s first few moments were wild, this was more so. The vagina pains were crazy, I was very paranoid and didn’t believe anything the midwives said. They told me they were just checking for tears but I believed I had torn so bad they couldn’t even tell me and they were stitching me up right then. I was on the floor, again, hot and sticky AND PARANOID. They were all lying to me, and something was really wrong somewhere.
But when I first latched Ocean, I felt I could breathe. She was perfect, not the baby shark that I thought I’d have. She gulped down loads of colostrum and she slept all night. It was bliss.
✨Out first tandem feed was beautiful, I even managed to take a picture by myself. And my girls bonded with each other as they both drifted off to sleep. I had gone from having paranoia to being in ecstasy. At every swallow I laughed, I was hysterical with laughter. I was waking them up and I was crying. I, me, Chaneen, was feeding two babies with my body. I was doing this all by myself. They said that I couldn’t, but I proved that I can. I will be able to do anything this life puts before me.
So now, I’m feeding a 2yo and a 4mo. We’ve battled through, pain, emotions, nursing aversion, naysayers ‘advice’, sleep deprivation and then some and we are all growing stronger by the day because of it.