I’ve found myself really nostalgic about Will’s birthday this year. Maybe it’s a form of the seven-year itch or more than likely it’s the new Facebook memories feature which shows you what was happening on this day since you joined Facebook. Everyday over the last couple of weeks I’ve been reminded about where we were at this time when he came into the world. I’ve really been loving it.
Then I saw that this week is World Breastfeeding Week. It’s a week dedicated to supporting women who work and also choose to breastfeed. All of a sudden I found myself insanely nostalgic about breastfeeding. And not just because it gave me a valid excuse to eat like crazy (oh full fat yogurt, I miss you). In the first year of Will’s life it was the only thing that I felt I was doing right.
I went into the whole breastfeeding thing very black and white. I wanted to do it (for both financial and health reasons) but if it wasn’t happening, then I was letting it go and moving on. No regrets. Thankfully, when the 5lb’er came out, half his body weight was his gigantic mouth. While he didn’t latch right off the hop, I was encouraged.
I remember heading to the NICU to try and feed him. He was so tiny and he was full of tubes. And I was sweating. I was trying to work it out with him and over popped the lactation consultant. I tore her head off. I told her to leave us alone and let me figure it out myself. I was a bitchy, hormonal mother who was later congratulated by one of the older nurses. Will and I did manage to figure it out, and at the end of the week, when he wasn’t hooked up to all the machines, I called the consultant back, apologized and took some pointers. We were off to the races. The kid was a total champ.
When I fell apart at six-weeks postpartum and spiraled into depression, I clung to our breastfeeding time. When the doctors suggested drugs to help, I just said ‘only if I can keep breastfeeding’ and thankfully I could. And the kid decided he liked it so much he would refuse to take anything else. Even when I had a night nanny, he’d wait it out. For 18 months, the kid was a breast boy. Now, at seven, he has a really bad habit of grabbing them again. In NYC, I instituted the ‘Don’t touch the 3Bs rule’ – boobs, butt and belly are now mine, thanks very much.
When I think back, I feel so blessed that I was able to breastfeed. I know that it isn’t successful for everyone. And I totally understand people who have no interest in doing it. For me, breastfeeding let me have a physical connection to my son when I really dreaded every waking moment we had together. I remember getting excited for when he would want to feed because I could relax for a short time, he would be quiet and for that brief moment, everything was right for us. Personally, I’m afraid to think of how my recovery would have been without it.
We are so lucky in Canada to have a year off work, especially if you’re breastfeeding. I can’t imagine having to go back to work at 6 weeks, and not only leave my kid but be pumping in the bathroom. Maybe if Donald Trump gets elected President, he’ll bring in a proper maternity leave? (Yes – I’m 100% kidding). So to U.S. breastfeeders, I do the ‘I’m not worthy’ bow because I’m positive I wouldn’t have stayed with it so long under those conditions.
And on World Breastfeeding Week, take a minute to consider how truly lucky we are as Canadians in terms of our maternity leave. And take some time to remember your own ‘Facebook memory’ about your time breastfeeding your kid. And if you’re in the thick of it and feeling like a human milking station, I promise you, you’ll look back on this time with only the greatest memories.