To boob or not to boob: That is the question.
We've had another brilliant, though rather hectic, week at the studio this week so I thought I'd step away from the studio for the evening. Therefore, it's a bit of a personal one for me tonight and not photography related. This post is for all the new mummies (and those to-be) out there.
Photographing newborns, I spend quite a bit of time now with brand new mummies and daddies and the same topic ALWAYS comes up - feeding our babies. I'm forever faced with women who feel the need to explain themselves as to why they didn't breastfeed or feel a sense of shame for choosing formula. So, I thought I would share with you tonight our feeding journey with our little man - the highs, the lows and everything in between.
So I read something a few weeks ago that having a baby is full of firsts: first tooth; first utterance of mamamamam and dadadadadad; first shoes... But, it's also full of lasts, you just don't realise it at the time. Like the last night they're in your room beside you; or the last time they'll fit in "those" dungarees
Or even the last time you breastfeed them. I found this all quite poignant - I'm an emotional wreck since having Rafferty because it terrifies me how quickly time passes and I worried so much that he'd grow up too fast!
Well I've breastfed him from the start. But I've never been precious about - it worked for us so we did it. If it hadn't I wouldn't have gotten all worked up and beside myself - he would've had a bottle and that would've been the end of it. Being a newborn photographer I spend time with a lot of new mummies who say "oh the midwife said this" and "oh I'm in agony" and "it's just not working but I have to be able to do it!" And I always say that I'm not a medical professional and yes breastfeeding is an incredible super power but don't make yourself miserable over it, your baby isn't going to be a lesser mortal because you decided to make your life that teensy bit easier by going to formula. As I said though it happened to work well for our little family and I loved it.
I'm on a tangent. Back on track... it's been one heck of a journey, from the first time he found my boob after my lengthy labour to now. I've had mastitis and fed through it. He's been a biter, nibbling and pulling. I made THE HARDEST DECISION of my adult life to go on a 5 day photography course in England and leave my 5 month old baby home with daddy and neither of them even missed me. I only booked this course 4 days beforehand so had to express 18bottles of breast milk to leave at home. I also had to express milk the WHOLE time I was away to keep it up. This was hellish - fellow photographers would pipe up "where's Katie gone?" "Oh she's away pumping again!!" Haha! I couldn't waste all that milky goodness though, so I had the stress of keeping my dozen bags of milk frozen and flying it back up in the hold with half a dozen ice packs and a packet of frozen Linda McCartney vegetarian sausage rolls hahaha! But I did it.
It's been an emotional journey, I remember getting up at 3am and sitting there nattering at my husband whilst feeding so that he would have to stay awake with me on the sheer endurance test of early morning feeds. And the number of games of solitaire I have played in the early mornings I dread to think hahaha! I also recollect the times when I couldn't bear to feed him another millisecond, I was tender and exhausted and pleaded with him to be full so I could stop - to no avail. Below is a HIDEOUS but completely genuine breastfeeding-related meltdown that Ross caught on camera in the early days, shortly before we had to purchase our newer model of camera. I can't remember if the two incidents were related...
I felt like a dairy cow. And then when I discovered I could express enough during my early hours of solitaire so that daddy could give him his night time bottle. 2 words: Game. Changer.
But there was also the sheer feeling of being superwoman. I was feeding my child with my body! What??? That fact will never. Ever. Cease to amaze me. And sitting there stroking his facey and watching him get more snuggled and relaxed and full just because I could that for him? Just incredible. I ADORED snuggling him up beside me in rugby position on the same pillow and blanket every single time and just soaking in every last bit of his beautiful being.
So I guess I'm telling you all this because I fed my wee man for 'the last time' last week. I hadn't noticed that my feeding him and gone to less than a minute either side in the morning. And one morning it just didn't happen. Or the next.
I'm gutted as it's over and I know I could build it back up again with expressing and blah blah...but you know what? He doesn't need me to. He is THE happiest, cheekiest, giggliest most contended and glorious person I have ever set eyes on and I'm so freakin' proud that he's ours.
Breastfeeding has been a life changing experience: feeding him in the car park; or out and proud in Starbucks; and everywhere in between. And I'm so glad I stuck it out.
I went to John Lewis and got fitted for my first proper underwire bra in forever. I nearly cried and said to the saleswoman - I've got boobs again!!! She was like ooookay. I looked at Rafferty in his pram and said "they're all mine again now" and he just laughed at me.
It's been one hell of a ride! I've still one bag of frozen milk in the freezer and doubt it should be kept much longer. I don't think I'll give it to him. But I think I'll just leave it there for awhile, after all I made that freakin gold dust! Haha!
I breastfed my baby for 9 months, 1 week and 3 days and I'm so proud of him...and me! Haha!
That's my story, so I'll step off my soapbox now and wish you all well. Normal service will resume with our next post and I can tell you now that it's a good 'un! We have some very exciting news to share next time, so watch this space!