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i looked at the poster in the waiting room of that special moment, that bond as gorgeous baby snuggles close to mum, feeding with ease.. then i looked at my screaming, blotchy parasite leaving hickeys on my sore cracked and bleeding nipples. WTF went wrong!?

seriously, how is ANY of this natural??

I, like most new mummies, glowed in the sacred anticipation of breastfeeding. that magic moment between you and bub. That ancient, age old, natural time shared between mother and child. the dream of the happy mother as she sits quietly, calmly, passing her milk, her healing powers, her love into the perfect little bundle, who responds with that heart melting cooo, looking up lovingly, holding her gaze…

the serene-ness, the simplicity, the magic…

the BULLSHIT!

the OMG, who forgot to give my baby the manual, because they sure as hell didnt put this moment into the antenatal class pamphlets…

so I survived labour. A story in itself.

Shattered, broken, confused, overwhelmed, tired, afraid, delirious, ecstatic and lying there, frozen as this strange alien being, whom had just erupted from my very self is placed on my chest… wriggling, he instinctively finds his way to my breasts for that first magical feed… and that’s when it stopped being magic..

now, in those early days, it is so hard to know whats going to happen. no way to anticipate… will you flood rivers of milk, perpetually drowning your baby and ruining yet another shirt… will you struggle to even squeeze out a drop and be forced to go onto the treadmill of milk cookies and motillium and stinky natural herbal remedies…

will day three and the pure hell of the hormones that consume you as your “milk comes in” be the final straw to your sanity or the overjoyful relief?

whatever your journey… lets just establish the facts..

holy crap breast feeding hurts!!!!!

so as i sat there, in those early days, struggling to produce enough milk to even feed an ant… it occurred to me, my small alien, while not in possession of teeth, has gums of steel! who knew it!!! that a little gummy shark could cause such excruciating agony… that even without incisors, my poor, delicate, soft nipple flesh could be unceremoniously torn to shreds, like the half chewed remains of stinky bait on a fishing hook. my baby must in fact be part beast, for the animalistic savaging occuring each feed borders on demonic. i have in fact given birth to a zombie piranha.

and as if having the most delicate skin on your body gnawed and ripped and cracked and bleeding and stinging with a pain that tingles through to your spine and back out the other side isnt bad enough… then there is the medical staff…

keep trying

stop crying

the latch is fine (how the F%^$ is this fine if i am in this much pain!!???)

he has tongue tie, oh no, maybe he doesnt, just try this.. (HOLY CRAP THAT HURTS EVEN MORE)

oh you must have really delicate nipples (ummm, yes? i wasnt aware i needed to tan them like bits of old leather for 18 years preceeding the concept of having a baby)

dont give up.

its ok to bottle feed

its not ok to bottle feed

its ok to express.

dont express it will stop your milk from coming in

and on it went!!!

in those first few days of sleep deprivation as i bawled in untold agony over the bald little head of my demonic piranha as he lovingly stripped away the first few layers of my skin leaving me bleeding and vulnerable to infection i was flooded with an overwhelming barrage of advice and information. i was judged, criticised and made to feel a failure, before i had even begun.

and i was so tired, so overwhelmed, so sore that i didnt have the strength left to fight, to ignore and to hold my head up high and instead i just let it consume me and slipped further and further into the dark abyss of misery with every feed.

how can i ever be a mother when i cant even provide feed for my baby. this most basic natural thing and i cant do it. i am broken. i am worthless.i am a failure…

looking back now, from the other side, i want to take new mummy me’s hand and shake it. shake it for even trying to feed! go me! i am freaking amazing…

i want to hug new mummy me and tell her that it is ok.

that i dont have to put up with that pain.

i want to stand up and SCREAM at the people who pushed me, pulled me, judged me and made me feel like it was something i was doing wrong..

i want to scream at the community health nurse who showed up on my door step every day for two weeks tsk tsk tsking at my poor feeding posture, his poor latch, my lack of milk, my use of shields and the fact i clearly wasnt feeding often enough and how little my piranha was as a result.. i want to scream at her and say GIVE ME A BREAK! i am exhausted, tired, afraid and i am doing my best.

i want to march up to her now with mr off the charts with height and weight and say “breastfeed this you judgmental cow!” how dare you make me feel guilty for doing everything i physically could possibly do

i want to let new mummy me have a break, a nap in those wee small hours and take away the pain and the exhaustion.

i want to take a permanent marker and draw a moustache and devil horns on every perfect baby in every breastfeeding poster and pamphlet in every doctor’s waiting room…

how dare they make us feel bad for trying.

the fact is…

breastfeeding CAN hurt some women.

and for some women it can simply be too hard. AND THATS OK.

for me, my journey…

was feeding every three hours (at 45 mins to 1.5 hours per feed) 24 hours a day around the clock.

it was sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion

it was never wearing a shirt and not wanting visitors or to leave the house

it was all sorts of medication to stimulate milk supply,

it was accepting that to nourish my baby i needed to top up with formula and learning to get over the societal mummy guilt associated with that,

it was hating myself for crying onto my new baby’s beautiful soft head with every feed and accepting that i NEEDED the nipple shields before my nipples suffered irreversible damage and it as accepting that despite the judgements and negative glares that that choice was ok

it was the small victories of a feed without crying, a feed without bleeding, a feed without nipple shields, a positive weight gain on the growth charts,

it was my own personal journey and my own right to feed my baby as was best and healthiest for both he and i.

for some women, feeding does come naturally. it comes on on cue. it looks just like the posters. i congratulate those women… but then they too have to walk the fine line of public scrutiny of when, where, how to feed.

and for some women, feeding doesnt happen at all. and i congratulate those women too. for having the strength to navigate the barrage of society’s critics, to stand up, do what is right for them and at the end of the day be able to say. “screw you, my child is getting fed”

so whatever your journey,

be it the easy or the hard road, the painful or the blissful, whether you breast feed,bottle feed, express,use shields, feed while co sleeping, feed covered up, feed au naturale, go through 75 tubes of lanisoh nipple relief cream, buy your local farmer out of cabbage leaves, leak like a dripping tap, experience the untold agony of mastitis or pose for the perfect breastfeeding pamhlet i say congratulations.

you are AMAZING

you are a mum.

and you are doing whatever it takes to feed your baby, so i therefore know you are a GREAT mum.

keep fighting the good fight.

tell the nay sayers to bugger off.

ignore the annoying night nurse and her pressure filled ways and do what your body tells you to!!!

i wanted to write this blog as a comedic look on the plight of our boobs, but instead i am clearly still carrying the battle scars of being judged, down trodden and made to feel worthless for my first foray into the world of feeding… a second baby, and a successful feeding story later and i still stand by it… it is your body, your story and you are amazing! dont believe the posters.

ignore the advice and be kind to yourself!!!

hugs and cabbage leaves wherever you are!

it's milking time the view from my feeding pillow

omg!

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