|Teeny's First Feed|
Photo courtesy of Karen Pooler
|Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy|
Photograph courtesy of my lovely friend Julia
I remember it vividly, it was the summer of 2007 and 18 months before our twins arrived, talking about how I didn’t want to breastfeed any babies that we had; if I’m honest I was 25 and blinded by the sexualisation of women’s breasts in today’s society, but at the time I didn’t realise that.
So let’s fast forward three children later to now and I am pretty sure that our littlest has weaned so, with no plans to add any more children to our family, my journey as a breastfeeding mama is complete after having spent four of the last six years breastfeeding; our twins for 15 months and the littlest for 2 years 7½ months.
I am sat here trying to write down how I feel about the end of this journey and yet I don’t really know. It is a whole mix of emotions. Were somebody to ask me that question then of course my immediate answer would be sad. Sad that this journey with Teeny is over, sad that a breastfeed no longer makes everything in his world better; I could have a list as long as my arm of why it makes me sad, but the most heart wrenching thing is that I will never ever breastfeed another baby ever again. At this moment in time that thought makes me feel sick in the pit of my stomach.
However when I spend a little more time pondering on how this time in my life makes me feel there are a whole host of other emotions wrapped up with this sadness. I don’t say this very often, but I am so proud at having exclusively breastfed all three of our children for as long as they’ve wanted. They are two particular times that are very prominent in my memory and those are my belief in my instinct, my body and our daughter that despite a 12% weight loss at day five there was no need to bow to the pressure to top her up with formula and then there is my post two year wobble with Teeny when, for a while, I wasn’t even sure how I felt about our continuing journey because breastfeeding past infancy/ natural term breastfeeding are not without their own challenges.
Then of course I feel completely blessed; blessed to have had straight forward births, no medical complications and the best support from my husband, our families and the overwhelming majority of midwives and health visitors who cared for us which made our breastfeeding journey possible.
I’m also full of excitement; excited to watch Teeny grow and to get to know the boy and man he is set to become. We have so many more milestones to reach together and we are just at a cross roads at the moment, not a dead end.
Then of course I am excited about the journey that having been a breastfeeding mama continues to take me on; I might be at the end of my own breastfeeding journey, but as a salaried and volunteer NHS breastfeeding peer supporter and vice chair of our local hospital’s MSLC I have the huge privilege of being able to support families at the start of their journey into breastfeeding and parenthood. This is just the beginning of another journey for me and at the moment I am unsure of the destination, but I hope it will be as long and fulfilling as my own breastfeeding journey with many a twist and turn along the way and without being a breastfeeding mama I would never have taken this amazing path in life.
Finally and importantly I feel immense gratitude for my babies who were the catalyst for an amazing journey that continues despite those babies no longer being breastfed and of course I am grateful to everybody who has encouraged, supported, empowered, educated and reached out to me throughout this journey and even to those who have judged or criticised because those judgements and criticisms only serve to make me more determined to be the change.