Is This Taboo?
Do you ever want to talk to people about something, but feel like it’s almost taboo? Or feel like you should be so grateful for all the positives you can’t talk about the difficulties? I know I do.
Today I want to break down the stigma about a particular topic. Although, I don’t have a word for it, I guess you could call it a post on a baby’s attachment to a maternal figure? Let me know if you can think of a better word/description.
I apologise, if I just can’t find the right words to fully explain what I feel about this subject. I hope the sentiment comes across. I am also aware that the situation I am going to talk about is very ‘stereotypical’. I know there may be people who have had differing experiences. I apologise, I am writing purely from my own perspective.
I hope you can still take something from this even if your situation and/or experiences are different. Please know there is no judgement and it is not my intention to make anyone feel that their choices are the wrong. I guess I’d better stop with the disclaimers and get to the point.
The Juxtaposition of emotions
When you have carried a baby inside you for nine months it typically creates a bond that is hard to replicate. Your baby has been soothed by the sound of your heartbeat from the within. This is something that, when I stop and think about what that actually means, leaves me feeling complete in awe of nature and the human body.
When I have had all of my boys I have always felt like no one can truly love them the way I do, because no one has experienced the relationship that we have had. I have also feel this was intensified because I have breastfed. The thought of knowing your body is physically nourishing and fueling your child, supporting and enabling them to grow is extremly comforting. However, this post isn’t about that. I want to talk about the times when that attachment can begin to feel a little a too intense, almost a little suffocating.
I can not even begin to express how vulnerable I feel writing this, how much I feel I am exposing myself to criticism from so many angles, but this is my truth and I want to share it as I am sure I am not alone.
I have been lucky, I use that word loosely as I don’t think it fully encapsulates the experiences that I have had breastfeeding my boys. My experiences have ranged from 7 weeks to 3 years. I have had comments about how I am such a Natural Mama, I want to say right here and now, I really ain’t. You can read the post I wrote about that here.
I have had thrush on my nipples. I have had mastisis. I’ve been bitten so hard it has drew blood. I have bleed from inside of my breast which caused my son to vomit to the point he tore his osphegus and he in turn threw up blood. I’ve woken so engorged I haven’t been able to fully lift my arms and have stood in the shower crying trying to express and relieve some of the pressure. I have pumped and dumped in public bathrooms and I have been shunned into bedrooms away from others so I could feed my new born. Having a successful breastfeeding experience does not equate to an easy one.
Breastfeeding can be hard. So bloody hard. Part of me worries this post might put expectant Mamas off the prospect of breastfeeding and again this is not my intention in the slightest. In fact I would feel incredibly sad if this were the case. At the same time, it’s good to know that it isn’t always easy. To know that if someone has a successful breastfeeding journey, that isn’t the same as having an easy journey. Please remember my experiences are over almost 5 years and 4 children. If you are able to breastfeed there is much joy to be found, this post just isn’t focusing on that aspect.
I had a friend who had a baby and really wanted to breastfed and asked me for some tips and advice. The main two pieces of advice I gave her were the first 2 weeks will probably be really hard, it should get easier after and the second piece was do not be afraid to ask for help/advice. 6 months into breastfeeding her daughter she told me, if I hadn’t of told her that he first two weeks could have been really difficult she would have quit. She was really pleased she didn’t. It is good to share advice constructively.
This post isn’t all about breastfeeding, but the fact that I do breastfeed intensifies things. My son doesn’t have a dummy, a blankie or any other comforter, non of my boys have and you want to know why. Because they have me. I am their living, breathing comforter. When they are first born and in the first few months of their lives it is an amazing feeling to know that you have that special connection, that you are he only one they will settle for. I know this is true for Mamas that don’t breastfeed too, it’s not a mutually exclusive connection. I’ve always loved that special feeling, but now my son is almost 13 months old and although he will settle fine during the day time. During the night, he needs his comforter. Namely me.
Normally I don’t mind, but sometimes. Sometimes I feel touched out. Sometimes I just want to sit in silence, with no one touching me or asking me to do something for them. Sometimes my body feels so overloaded from having a baby constantly attached to me. Sometimes, I just want a little space and not to feel the sweet tug of you latching on in the middle of the night. I don’t want you climbing on me. I don’t want you pulling on my leg. I don’t want to go out for a few hours and hear you have screamed because although I thought you would be fine, ultimately you needed me. Sometimes in all honesty, I don’t want to breastfeed anymore. Sometimes I just want to remove the intensity. Sometimes it all just feels a little relentless.
But then, as you suckle and you look up at me with your big eyes. I smile. I love this. Its not always easy, but it is always worth it. You are always worth it. It is as I said in the post title a double edge sword. The is joy of being your comforter, but then it is sometimes overwhelming too. I am learning that these feelings are both normal and the penultimate expression of this situation. There is both a joy and a sadness that one day, you wont need me in the same way. The thought of the physical restraints being removed from me is freeing, but the thought of you not needing me so intensely brings the feeling of a very bittersweet sadness.
This post will probably seem rambly, they are all just thoughts that have been in my head. I wrote this almost a year ago. I have only just mustered up the courage to post it. Breastfeeding is such an emotive subject. However I know the feelings that I am talking are experienced by all Mothers/ Main caregivers from time to time. The feeling of losing yourself to this role and this small person and although we do it day in and day out and mainly with only joy in our hearts, there are days, weeks and maybe months where we feel how I described above. It is OK. It is OK to feel this way. It is OK to verbalise these feelings and it is OK to talk to others without needing advice or an opinion.
Much love and many thanks