This morning as I sat expressing milk off so that I can go out (OUT!!! Like proper out, with grown ups and booze and a meal that I can eat at a normal pace!!) the amazing poetry of Hollie McNish came up on my news feed.
I don’t know if you have seen it, I expect you have as it has been floating around on the internet for quite some time. But just in case you haven’t, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiS8q_fifa0. It is about her breastfeeding experience, feeling embarrassed and like she had to hide what should be the most natural thing in the world.
I saw this not long before I had my son and it strengthened my resolve that if I was able to breastfeed, I would do it with pride and joy. And after a three day, drip syringe feeding, sleep free stressful start to the experience, he had his tongue tie fixed and latched. He has never looked back. He puts his hands in the top of every woman that holds him. He loves boobs.
I know from speaking to other mothers, that not everyone is as lucky. I know several women who entered postnatal depression and found their lack of ability to breastfeed a crushing blow. It is something that should be treated as normal and healthy and I think celebrated when it can happen.
As Hollie McNish points out in her poem, we are a nation that LOVES boobs. We sell everything with them. Women rush out to buy bras that are pre-stuffed and are designed to hoist our fun bags as near to our chins as possible. We are encouraged to have luscious cleavage on show to be considered sexy.
One of the reasons that breasts are attractive is that they represent fertility. It makes you seem more appealing as a mate. I struggle to understand then, why when you are using them for the purpose they were designed for, and displaying that you are indeed fertile, as you have produced a child to suckle from them, that people freak out?
When I was pregnant I was approached by an alarming number of people trying to chat me up. I found this confusing, as in general being pregnant is quite a strong indicator that you probably have a partner with whom you created said pregnancy. When I mentioned this to friends, I was informed that this was a common occurrence. There are lots of people out there that find pregnancy sexy.
Another thing that shocked me was how everyone seems to think that you are public property once you conceive. It is apparently fine to comment on your appearance (isn’t your bump small/big/high etc…) and once you have your baby they feel it acceptable to pass loud, over opinionated judgement on everything that you say/do/think.
But I think that breastfeeding should be taken off the table as something to be commented on, unless it is to say something nice. I don’t tut and sigh at people eating in restaurants. Why tut at me when my son wants to do so in a restaurant too? Would you rather that he screamed and wailed with hunger? Would you eat your lunch in the toilets? I would much prefer to see a nice, happy, quiet baby feeding than a red faced shouty one whilst out for a meal.
So back to my morning expressing. I avoided using lefty from half six last night. I awoke this morning to one, huge, boulder of pain on my chest. I expressed enough off to do three feeds for my mini man. Over the last week he has decided that he will take my milk from a bottle! VICTORY!!! Obviously he prefers it from source, but I can now stop worrying when I am away from him. It is a marvelous feeling. I am surprised that he decided to like fish fingers, yoghurt and toast before he would accept breast milk from a bottle, but he has finally got there and I couldn’t be happier.
I am going out to see a friend who emigrated last year and is back in the UK for a visit. I am very excited about seeing him. Due to my bountiful boobie haul it means that I can have a few drinks tonight. I commented as much on the event page that he set up on Facebook to arrange the meal. I know everyone on the group. I thought that they would either read it and appreciate my excitement or have a chuckle.
I got a shocked face emoji, a hilarious comment about the fact that I wasn’t allowed to supply my own drinks (which made me laugh lots and was appreciated) and a TMI message. Why is it too much information? Why is talking about the fact that I had found a way to both feed my child and store enough milk to be able to go out and have fun, too much to tell people because it involves my boobs?
Anyone who is my friend on Facebook, or who reads my blog knows that I have been having a battle with this. I know that lots of people find new parents boring. They don’t want to hear about your tiny one’s every burp, sneeze or bowel movements. They can’t see the difference between the picture that you posted of them yesterday and the one that they saw last week.
So maybe my public sharing of my breastfeeding journey is not as fascinating to them as it is to me. They get to go to the pub whenever they like, they probably don’t know that this is the first time that I am going out without my car or baby since he was born.
And I don’t expect them to care.
But people who know me. You should expect me to share. I always have done and I always will do.
And yes. I talk about my boobs now. It’s a thing.