Many of you have been around to hear about my breastfeeding journey with the Pixie, about how things didn’t go to plan and everything went awry and I was very sad.
Three months later not a feed goes by without me wishing I was nuzzling her into my breast, not the silicone teat of a bottle. As I watch powdered formula slowly dissolve in cooled boiled water, I feel cheated. When I see the ominous can sitting on my kitchen bench, I glare at it angrily.
There are times too that I am so thankful for it, so thankful things have worked out, so thankful to have a healthy and thriving baby despite earlier challenges, so thankful to have a backup. But nothing can heal or replace the upset I feel at our breastfeeding journey being cut short.
I watched this video yesterday, have you seen it? It’s fantastic, a poem by Hollie McNish about her experience of people judging her for breastfeeding in public. No mother should ever feel too embarrassed to feed her baby in public.
As I watched the video, I longed for her problems. I wished it was me deciding what to wear in the morning so that I could easily access my breast. I wished it was me swearing about ugly breastfeeding bras as I clip myself up in the morning. I wished it was me contemplating the weather and feeling the icy air on my stomach as I lift my shirt at the coffee shop for my baby. I wished it was me having people glare at me for flashing a small piece of flesh while they sipped lattes or walked their dogs.
Instead, I feel embarrassed about placing my bottle of cooled boiled water on the table. I feel eyes on me as I scoop powder and swirl it around in the water while I chat to a friend. I anticipate their thoughts, wondering if I am lazy, if I couldn’t be bothered, if breastfeeding wasn’t for me or if I didn’t think it mattered. If they think I didn’t put the effort in to breastfeed, if they think that I’m not educated, that I don’t know that breast is best, that I don’t care. I wonder if they wonder these things, I wonder if they judge me. I feel judged, maybe because once upon a time I was the person at the other table, breastfeeding my baby and making what I thought were innocent assumptions about the women who didn’t.
Last night I was rifling around in my bedside table drawer looking for a pen. I found a few bits of paper torn from a notebook, dated 10 September 2010 when Birdie was five months old. On the paper were scribbled words in blue texta. I thought I would share them with you today, for although things have been different with the Pixie, my thoughts about breastfeeding haven’t changed. I would do anything to be able to feed her again. I tried a few weeks ago, after I got out of the shower. I thrust a breast at her, knowing full well I have no milk, knowing it was weird. She just looked at me with the expression what the hell are you doing? And I asked myself the same question and went to get dressed.
Here are the notes I found last night:
A single tear drifts across the bridge of your nose as you suck.
A gentle dance along your smooth skin.
You’re lying sideways, longways. Horizontal. A perfect palm lays across my breast.
Skin to skin.
I can feel the outline of your tiny hand on my skin.
Slight, unconscious movements.
Your perfect face is barely moving but for shallow breaths.
Inside your mouth your tongue pulls at my nipple, bringing forth abundance.
Your eyes are closed but just moments ago they curled and rolled with the most basic of pleasures.
The very heart of humanity and beauty and life itself is caught in this single moment.
This one single moment of truth, of real, of substance.
Nothing else matters.