My name is Erin McCrea. I’m a Momma, a pet Momma, and a writer. I had my first baby at age 35 in May of 2016. Becoming a mom was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and I have loved every moment of it. I blog at http://erinisawriter.blogspot.ca/, but haven’t done a lot since Anthony arrived. It’s my goal to be a consistent Writing Mom by the time his birthday arrives. I’m shy, caring, weird, bossy, and I try to be happy every day. My baby helps with that
Adventures in Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is by far one of the toughest experiences in my life.
The nurse in the recovery room after my c-section told me I would be pressured to breastfeed, but I needed to do what was right for me. It helped to hear that because she was right. I had pressure. I had pressure from nurses, from friends, and most of all, from myself.
I’m already finding this harder to write than I expected. I’ve written about my pregnancy journey and my mommy journey, but I haven’t written about breastfeeding other than the odd comment. It’s personal. It’s a personal journey. The reason I’m writing this (even though I’m finding it hard) is because it should be talked about. When you’re trying to breastfeed your new baby, you don’t hear the stories about how hard it is. You hear how important it is for the baby to drink breast milk, and you feel the pressure from every mother who is able to do it.
I’d like to say right now that this is not a Breast is Best post. Feeding your baby is important. Loving your baby is important, being crippled with anxiety because you aren’t able to breastfeed, is not something Mommas should be put through.
I was lucky. I was able to make breastfeeding. It took about two weeks. It took visits from the Healthy and Home nurse, and visits to the Breastfeeding Clinic. It took a nipple shield and a tongue tie clip. It took a lot of people helping, and a lot of extra hands on my breasts. MY breasts. My breasts were no longer mine.
We finger fed my little guy for the first week out of the hospital. I remember feeling absolutely defeated at 3 in the morning when he would not stop crying, and I couldn’t help him. I already felt like I had failed him. Nobody should feel like that, but women put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Too much.
I have a hard time giving up. I kept trying. The nipple shield was a life saver, and helped him eat a full meal straight from me the first time. I didn’t think I’d ever stop using it, but we eventually got the hang of it, and were able to breastfeed without help.
It’s been over nine months, and I was lucky enough to exclusively breastfeed him for six months until we introduced solids, and continue on, hopefully until he’s a year.
It’s been stressful. It’s been tough. It’s been painful. I’ve also blamed myself anytime he’s been sick or his poop has been the wrong colour (welcome to mommyhood) because he gets his nutrition from me.
It’s also been wonderful. It helps put my baby to sleep (or it used to), it helps us bond, it helps bring both of us a little bit of peace.
When I first started, I gave myself timelines. When Anthony finally started breastfeeding, I told myself I only had to make it three months. After I made it to three months, I told myself six months.
I’m now at nine months, and plan to stop at a year. I’ll miss it. I know I will. I’ll miss those moments with my baby.
Other times though, I think a year is perfect because as much as I love being able to give my baby my milk, I want my breasts back. I want to be able to drink two glasses of wine. I want to pick an outfit that doesn’t include being breastfeeding friendly. These are silly thoughts, but there are so many more. The truth is I really want my breasts back.
I know people love it. I have friends that breastfed their babes longer than a year, and I’m so happy that they were able to do it. I also have friends who chose not to breastfeed. It made them more comfortable, and, in my opinion, made the baby more comfortable.
There was a ‘Tree of life’ photo/hashtag, a little while ago. Something to help normalize breastfeeding. It was a photo of babies breastfeeding with a tree connecting the two. I’m not very good at describing it. I’m going to share my photo. I haven’t shared it very often. I did it because I was proud of my breastfeeding journey.
It’s important to normalize breastfeeding, and I’m shocked that women are still shamed for feeding their children in public.
Here’s the spot where I admit that even though I’m proud to breastfeed Anthony, I found it hard to do it in public. I still do. It’s awkward, and it’s not easy. I feel like less of a breastfeeding Mom by admitting that. It seemed like every Mom who has ever breastfed is proud to do it wherever and whenever. It took me a very long time to get to that point, and I’m still working at it. The first time I ever fed him in public was during a trip to Ontario. I fed my baby in a parked car for most of the trip. I was ridiculously proud of myself. Nothing was showing, and we were in a booth hidden in the back, but I was still so proud that three months in, I finally fed him in public.
I guess that’s exactly why normalizing breastfeeding is so important. For people like me, who still feel like I’ll offend by having the nerve to feed my baby in public.
One more comment on the beautiful tree of life photos. It’s beautiful, and I get the Tree of Life meaning but it’s just another thing that’s romanticizing breastfeeding. It’s not always so easy. New Moms have SO much trouble, and don’t always realize it’s perfectly normal to have trouble. Here’s a #normalizebreastfeeding for you.
This is my life when I breastfeed. Kicks in the face (usually gentle), scratches from his fingernails (that ALWAYS need to be cut), and since the teeth showed up – very ungentle bites. I love it, I promise.
This post is about my personal experience. The first month was NOT easy. It got easier. If you choose to breastfeed, I promise, it’s worth it, but if you choose not to, that’s a pretty brave choice as well. In fact, it’s really brave.
I’ve had a love hate relationship with breastfeeding, and at times, it’s felt like it’s taken over my life, but it’s an experience that I’ll probably never have again, and I’m glad to have shared the adventure with my son.