It hurt like hell, but I did it. I was a mess, thought I might die, but I did it. I bled, cried, and stunk like cabbage but I did it. I did it in cafes, libraries, church pews, bed, and at school Christmas concerts. I did it discreetly but not shamefully. And I did it for as long as I felt fit. Nobody cared, commented or blinked an eye.
And then we moved to America. The land of the free. Free accept for breastfeeding mothers. No, here they go sit in another room, small cupboards, dirty bathroom stalls or with blankets covering half their bodies in fear of being noticed.
A recent magazine cover here in America ignited the blogger world on fire. Yes dear editors, you win. One hot mama sticking her chest out, hand on hip, with a child on a chair sucking her pretty little boob while she stares blankly into the camera not only satisfies your teenage boy fantasies but has pitted mother against mother. Cheap shot. bull’s-eye! I reacted like many others; in anger, disappointment and frustration. Really? I thought aloud to myself….who the hell feeds a kid like this?
But it wasn’t till my healthy breastfed kids (now 12 and 9yrs) bustled in and spotted the cover photo on our kitchen counter that the pain of this image was felt “ewwww’ one said, “yuk” another chimed in. Breastfeeding in the past may have coaxed an awkward giggle out of them, but never before a “yuk”. I took it personally, it hurt for it felt as though they were rejecting me and what we shared.
Breastfeeding my kids did not feel at all natural for the first few months. It was endless, exhausting. Mastitis hit me hard countless times and I leaked awkwardly everywhere, anytime. The two hard bricks on my chest felt alien and I wanted my old body back. But once over the physical and emotional hurdles, it became a favourite part of my day. We each have our own stories, that was mine.
I don’t have any opinion about attachment parenting or breastfeeding toddlers; I couldn’t care less to be honest, each to their own. But to change my children’s attitude with one sexualized image, now that I have an opinion about!
“No no, it’s not at all like that!” that I tried to explain to them. “It’s beautiful, normal, healthy and I loved feeding you with all my heart and soul. I sacrificed so much to feed you, I cried for you, I held you, stroked you and comforted you. Oh please don’t say Yuk, please just go back to your non-opinions, childish giggles and shrugs of your shoulders.”
Days later the unread article about the non-issue is now in recycling. Bloggers are blogging, mothers are mothering, and the world keeps turning. My kids still snuggle and are as attached as they always were. Yes, i really ought to have trusted that a simple moment in time, would not come between us.