Still Pumping5:56 pm
Last week we "celebrated" reaching six months of "booby in a bottle". I'll be honest and say it felt good to reach one of my goals, I'm glad I can at least provide breastmilk for Ernest, even if it is in a bottle.
I've become accustomed recently to making the best of things, for being thankful for what I do have, but oh how I long to breastfeed.
I remember being pregnant with India, and knowing I would breastfeed, despite not being breastfed myself, and only ever seeing one other woman breastfeed while I was growing up. She was a hippy friend of my mother's, and everyone said how strange it was that she was still breastfeeding a toddler. I thought it looked wonderful.
I was lucky, breastfeeding India was easy, not without tears, and a bout of mastitis, but easy, and so it was with Eden,Angus and Sid. By the time Florence was born I had been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for 13 years.
Florence didn't breastfeed. I wished she had.
I remember as I held her in the hospital telling the midwife I wanted to donate her milk. They offered me drugs to dry up the milk, and I reeled in shock. My baby couldn't have my milk, but I needed to see it,to know I was a mother of a newborn, and I hadn't imagined it all.
I donated my breastmilk for six weeks before it dried up, and while I know and understand that for many many bereaved mothers that would not be an option, it was right for me.
In those early days I would bargain with the universe to let me have Florence back, I would say "even if I've missed her life up until now", "even if I can't breastfeed"...."please I just want her back."
There was no question, Ernest would be breastfed, but that hasn't worked out despite our best efforts, and believe me it's been an effort.
I've only just stopped crying every day for the loss of our breastfeeding relationship. I'm only just getting into a rhythm with this new way of mothering.
I don't think of myself as a breastfeeding mother, my baby has breastmilk provided by me, but he's missing out on so much more.
There have been so many times he's needed comfort and all I've been able to offer is my arms, because the breast is not a place of comfort for him, it was painful for him to try and breastfeed, and I'm afraid this mother's breast has not been a happy place.
I found this photo on my phone,taken back in August, Ernest trying to breastfeed.
I was forwarded this wonderful blog post recently, it made me sob with recognition.
I haven't been trying Ernest at the breast very often at all over the past few weeks. I hate that I haven't,but also I recognise that I'm calmer and more able to enjoy our time together. Ernest's babyhood was whizzing by in a fog of pumping,feeding,washing,sterilising,trying nipple shields,biological nurturing,nursing weekends,finger feeding....stress stress stress. (Not to mention grieving mother, and four older kids who need me too.)
The breathing space has been welcome, Ernest and I do have lovely skin to skin times, we co sleep, we babywear, we shower together, and he is always with me, maybe it's not too late, maybe he'll try to breastfeed one of these days, but I'm also much more accepting of the fact that maybe he never will breastfeed.
I'm still bargaining with the universe, "just a comfort feed at bedtime", or "please let me be able to provide milk for him until he's two."
I don't take anything for granted anymore, and I don't expect anything from the Universe, except maybe another kick in the teeth,so we'll do what we've been doing for the past eighteen months, we'll keep on keeping on, and I'll try not to feel like I've failed.