It's been Good, It's been Hard, It's been FUN!
When I nurse my precious son, it’s just me and him. The world falls flat along with all my worries and frustrations. In this special moment together, he is happy and the love between us become certain. Our body rhythms sync, our heartbeats and breaths as one. This is our time. (Taken from Maranda Bouwer)
When I got pregnant with Aryan, I knew in an instance that I wanted to breastfeed him for at least 2 years – that was the goal I set my mind to. I never really considered anything else, formula never crossed my mind and I never thought about the “what if’s”. During my pregnancy everyone assured me that my body was created to do this (just like giving natural birth) but nobody prepared me for the challenges, the pain, the fears, doubts, judgements and opinions of others. A couple of weeks ago we reached our 2 year goal and we’ve had good days, we’ve had hard days but best of all we’ve had FUN days!
Breastfeeding Aryan has truly been the most remarkable, special and rewarding journey I’ve ever been on, but it has not been without its challenges. No, in fact, it has also been one of the hardest, most challenging parts of my motherhood experience. In the last 2 years we have had to face it all, but I were determined because I needed just one thing to work out the way I wanted to, the way I planned it, and I really do believe that not having the birth experience I so desperately desired made me even more determined to work hard at this – I refused to “fail” my child in yet another way so I knew I had to push through the tears, the fears and the doubt – I gave myself no other choice.
Contrary to what people say, breastfeeding is NOT easy! Yes, it’s special, and beautiful but it’s also a massive sacrifice and I learned that very early on. Our journey started of rough – it was messy and ugly and there were more tears than joy. My journey started with a manual pump in my hand as I got wheeled to the waiting room to get enough colostrum for my boy’s first feed in NICU – no it wasn’t a beautiful tummy crawl and latch as I imagined it would be. My first night at home I spent pumping every 2 hours. It was my very first mothers day and I were sitting next to an empty crib instead of having him latch after some skin-to-skin time as I expected it would be. I realised this journey is not going to be easy the moment the nurses tried to latch him for the very first time and left me leaving in tears – not because of the fact that he was still too weak to latch but because of the pain they caused trying to get him latched. And I knew that this journey is going to need patience, determination and willpower as I sat tears streaming down my exhausted face on a cold, dark morning as I try to get my fragile little newborn latched to the constantly moving nipple shield.
See breastfeeding is a journey in itself with about as many ups and downs as our unique and individual motherhood journeys, and just like life itself you never really get the hang of it, because just when you think you have it all figured out, a new challenge presents itself and you have to start all over. We have been through the nipple shield, refusing bottle, being the pacifier, never sleeping – all night drinking, first teeth biting, painful mastitis, toddler pulling and jerking, nipple bleeding phase, BUT even with all of these, the joys were much greater.
The feeling when he latched perfectly for the very first time without the nipple shield, the smile when his eyes meets mine, the touch of his hand gently resting on my breast as he peacefully dozes of, the knowing that “his boobie” can fix anything from the smallest eina to a broken heart. But the biggest joy of all is knowing that I am enough for him – I am his comfort, I am his nourishment, I am his quiet place.
But now I am just a walking, talking Boob to him 🙂
Breastfeeding a baby is one thing, BUT breastfeeding a toddler is a whole other boob game. Now they don’t just suck and sleep anymore, nope they fight, chew, talk, play and do acrobatics all while breastfeeding – I kid you not! They also copy everything you do, so don’t be surprised when you walk into a room and find your toddler breastfeeding a doll, your cat or dog or even his/her baby cousin. They have also successfully taught themselves how to pull up your shirt, unclip your bra and latch in any position, any and everywhere at lightning speed. They also believe that they are the protectors of boobs and therefore their hands need to be on the boob at ALL times, especially in public. Please don’t fool yourselves moms of bubs, you will not get more sleep once they are older, though you might not hear the newborn cry anymore, the “boobie boobie boobie yum yum yum” is sure to wake you at 03:00 AM – my pleasure! You also become part of their playtime – Ive been a boobie racetrack, I’ve had to breastfeed not only him, but also his dinosaurs, Jog the Frog and teddies, and I am an indoor jungle gym as he climbs over my face and breastfeeds upside down – because every mom just loves having a bum up in their face. Toddlers are great at multi-tasking, I promise, ask any other breastfeeding mother.
I’ve asked some of my favourite fellow breastfeeding mommies to share some fun stories or sayings of their toddler breastfeeding journeys that I can share with you, but first:
10 things I’ve had to say to my breastfeeding toddler:
- “No baba you cannot have both, just pick one”
- “Please leave your ouma, dada, auntie or couzies boobies – they don’t work like mommy’s does”
- “Right NOW? Really! I suppose you cannot wait 5 minutes” as he unbuckles my bra and latches himself in the shops.
- “AGAIN? Your snacks are right there? Please go have a chippy or some tea?”
- “Is that all I am to you? One big boob?”
- “For the love of my sanity can you please take your hand out of my shirt” every day, everywhere
- “ You cannot dance, jump, laugh and talk with my boob in your mouth so please finish one before you start the other”
- “AryanQ you cannot chew a sweetie and drink boobie at the same time you are hurting mama”
- “My boy, it is humanly impossible to give you boob while you sit in your car chair… Oh wait… never mind”
- “No, no, no! mommy’s boobies are kaput now, they need to charge a bit”
- “Aryan please stop pointing to the mannequin’s boobie, the people are staring”
Other Moms say:
Nicole McEnderry – @raisingksquared
- “I always get asked when I am going to stop breastfeeding and it’s gotten to the point where I am so irritated with answering that question that my standard answer is “when he is 21″ – most people laugh, some just stare in shock!”
- “We also have boob names – my left boob is Kieran’s and my right boob is daddy’s.”
- “While Breastfeeding Kieran, his one foot must be in the air and he has to rub my arms.”
“Honestly I wouldn’t trade breastfeeding my boy for anything. <3”
Loren – @herscatteredpetals
Some things I’ve had to say to Lottie:
- “Please don’t put your bottom on mommy’s boobie”
- “No my love, the dog…the cashier…your teacher doesn’t want to drink mommy’s boobie milk.
Yes some days were hard and sometimes the nights are still long, but even so my breastfeeding journey has taught me so much and has definitely helped shape the mother I am today. It has made me so much stronger and filled me with a confidence I never had, it has taught me to trust my body and motherly instinct more so than the opinions of others, and it has shown me that I am stronger than I sometimes think I am. I’m not sure how much longer our journey will be, right now I know that neither one of us are ready to move on just yet. One thing is for certain, and that is that I will treasure each and every moment we have together – every giggle as he looks up and sees me staring at his beautiful face, every time our eyes lock and we just stare and stare at each other, every day as he dozes of holding on to my one breast, hand safely tucked away in my shirt, every night waking when he crawls on top of me saying “boobie, boobie, boobie”, because I know that I’ll never know when it will be the last time…
Just a little disclaimer – I am in no way shaming, bashing or judging moms who chose to go the formula route. Things don’t always work out the way we want it to – trust me, I of all people get it! Sometimes we are forced to make a heartbreaking decision in our child’s best interest and your decision doesn’t make you any less of a mom than me. I simply wanted to share the good, the bad and the funny memories of our individual breastfeeding journey.