We briefly celebrated Arya turning 6 months old on the 25th of last month, but instead of posting my usual baby update, I wanted to share an update on our 6 month breastfeeding journey. And mainly, I just want to celebrate the fact that we’ve made it this far — especially with a fun giveaway below!
For some strange reason, the moment I found out I was pregnant with Arya, I just knew that I was going to try to breastfeed. I knew nothing about it, let alone how challenging it can be — but I was just curious enough to try. Each month produced many highs and even more lows, and from what I’ve heard from other nursing moms, that’s just how it be sometimes. Breastfeeding isn’t as straightforward as you’d think and the milk doesn’t work like a faucet — it can come easy to some, be nearly impossible to others, and every woman’s experience is different!
The one thing I just can’t seem to get over (even 6 months in) is breastfeeding in public. And when I say I can’t get over it, I mean I can’t get over how OTHER PEOPLE can’t get over it! The fact that this is still a polarizing issue just baffles me! I’ll whip out a nip anywhere these days, but I still remember the first time someone was obviously rude to me while I tried to breastfeed Arya in public. I was sitting in a Jason’s Deli with my mom and was what you’d call a functioning zombie. See, she had forced me to leave my house because at 7 weeks postpartum, the sleep deprivation struggle was real and I had become captive on breastfeeding island (aka the couch). So when Arya started to cry during lunch, my nerves were already quite frayed and I hadn’t even had a chance to touch my sandwich. Knowing I had about 6 minutes before a full on meltdown occurred, I took all the necessary measurements to discreetly put on my cover and unclip my nursing bra.
While trying to latch my baby, I accidentally locked eyes with one woman in particular and the look she gave me is seared onto my soul. I’ll never forget the anger in her stare! She basically went out of her way to make me feel as though I had just had sex on top of the salad bar! I started to panic sweat, and felt pangs of sadness, shame, and frustration — all while trying to latch Arya and have my milk letdown so that she could eat lunch too. Defeated, I started to gather my things to head to the car when my mom grabbed my things, put them all back down in the booth and told me to continue. She stared me right in the eye and told me that ALL three of us were going to finish our lunch, and to pay no mind to anyone who was disapproving of it. I’ve never felt more supported in my entire life, and it’s that support that has given me the balls to stop giving a crap about who is offended by our breastfeeding journey.
In that moment, I learned that the only thing that is appropriate to do when a mom is trying to nurse a baby in public is to MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS. Don’t scoff, don’t roll your eyes, don’t even ask her if she wants some more “privacy”. I say this because whether you take the time to make your opinions about breastfeeding known to her or not, she is already uncomfortable and having a mini panic attack at the thought of her child accidentally exposing her nipples. At the thought of said newborn not knowing how to latch with a freaking blanket over its head. At the thought of not being able to calm the manic, shrill cries of a baby who is missing a feeding because she is taking too long. The list goes on.
Moral of the story is that in 6 months of breastfeeding, I have learned to block out the extra noise of the outside world, and get on with what needs to be done. I simply do not have energy to wonder if my oddly shaped, half engorged, half deflated boobs offend you! In the beginning days there was one thing I would tell myself over and over and over: do what you can to make it work, but if it doesn’t, THAT’S OKAY TOO. And that’s it — I’m NO martyr! When my supply dipped, I searched for healthy ways to boost it. When I got clogged ducts, I soaked and massaged until the milk sprang free. When I got milk blisters, I said a prayer and popped them with a shadily “sterilized” needle. When my pump didn’t work I cursed, then I learned how to hand express. All the while knowing that if there ever came a time where I couldn’t find a solution to fix the problem, I would cherish the days that I did get to breastfeed and happily move on. If there’s one thing I’ve learned thus far in my journey as a new mom it’s that there’s no need to strive for unattainable perfection. How much longer will I nurse Arya? I have no idea. Momming is hard enough — even when you’re just covering the bare minimum and a healthy fed baby is really all that matters!
- Ro Williams Bran