Dear boobs, it’s been emotional.
Updated: Jun 12, 2020
It’s no secret that mine and Rex’s breastfeeding journey has been a difficult one. Rex is now 11-weeks-old and I feel like I can finally think and talk about feeding rationally and logically, without fear of judgement. Because, for some fucked up reason, how you feed your baby is a subject rife with judgement.
I felt a huge amount of pressure to breastfeed Rex, admittedly a lot of that was from myself, but also from many outside influences, midwives, health visitors and even some friends and family. “It’s the best thing for him.” If I had a pound for every time I heard that, Rex’s wardrobe would be decked out in the Little White Company rather than Primark’s finest. All said with the best intentions, I know, but it still piled on the pressure to persist with it.
Despite it being a monumental mission for both of us, I solely breastfed Rex for the first six weeks of his life because I wanted to. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and give him what I had been told and believed was the best possible start. I will never regret that decision. I kept my son alive and I absolutely loved the closeness that it gave us. But it also brought me, Rex and Eamo untold amounts of stress, anxiety and upset, which in hindsight, was completely unnecessary.
When Rex was around six weeks old, he was going through (another) growth spurt and wanting to feed all the time. When I fed him, he would either fall in and out of sleep so was on me for an hour at a time in order to get what he needed, or would dick about, tugging at my nipple and not feeding properly, making the entire experience a wholly unpleasant one.
I remember one night, in particular, where Rex was feeding for what seemed like an eternity. When I finally got him off me, he was howling. A howl like he hadn’t been fed for a week. It was at this point, in my desperation, we decided to give him a small bottle of formula, thinking he might still be hungry. He was. He sculled the lot in a matter of minutes. And shortly after was like a completely different baby. Totally content.
I broke down. I realised then that it didn’t matter a fuck whether I had a point to prove to myself or anyone else, what mattered was what Rex needed. And I was no longer fulfilling those needs.
After so many issues following his birth and him not latching on the right side until he was about 3-4 weeks old, my right breast never really caught up properly, leaving my left boob to take all the strain. And while I’m sure many women manage it, it meant one boob producing at least 5oz of milk every couple of hours and I simply couldn’t keep up.
And to be honest, I didn’t want to.
Rex is now predominantly bottle fed, with me sometimes breastfeeding him at night. But that is mainly for comfort or a top up rather than an actual feed. And it has been that way for a few weeks now. However, up until now I have actually found myself not wanting to say he’s bottle fed now, thinking that people will think of me as a failure or someone who just gave up when it got a bit tough. And I’m actually really annoyed with myself for feeling that way. I know the fucking monumental effort I went through, persisting with breastfeeding in the early stages to the point where I nearly made myself ill. And I will always be so proud of myself for that. But now, it just doesn’t work for us. And that’s ok.
The hardest thing for me to accept was what you are told is the most natural thing in the world, which it really is for some women, is actually the most arduous, stressful and upsetting task for others. Me being one of them. As stupid or dramatic as it may sound, not being able to feed or continue to feed Rex made me, for a time, feel like a total failure as a mum. The thought of giving it up made me feel like Rex would no longer need me, which I now realise is ridiculous as there is so much more to being a mum.
I realise now that’s not the case. But it’s often hard to see a situation clearly when your bang in the middle of it. What I should’ve done is focused solely on what was best for Rex. And what’s best for Rex is me not being stressed to the fucking eyeballs and not worrying about what people might say about the decisions I’ve made.
Would I have liked to have two fully working boobs and been able to breastfeed my baby for six months? Yes. But only if that meant Rex and I were both happy. And, as it turns out, it wasn’t meant to be. But I did my fucking damnedest to make it so and I will forever pat myself on the back for that.
So, boobs, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done up to this point, but your work here is now done.
A whole new world (not the Katie and Peter version)
I remember when I first met Eamo I could not keep my hands off him. I also remember thinking I never wanted that honeymoon period to end. But, like every relationship, it did and we settled into ‘us’, which is just the best thing ever. We have an unspoken understanding, a connection that just makes being around him enough. He makes me want to be a better human and I don’t think you can get better than that.
That said, we are far from perfect. And our relationship has already gone through many, many stages in the three years that we’ve been together. It came to a head recently when he told me that he actually felt unloved by me and like I’d prefer it if he wasn’t around. I was a little heartbroken as he told me I show him no affection and he felt like he couldn’t even hug me for fear of being rejected. But I couldn’t argue because I knew he was right. Not about not loving him, but about how I had made him feel.
My moods for a while now have been so up and down the poor bloke deserves a medal for sticking with me. Not loving him or wanting him around couldn’t be further from the truth, but it is true to say that our relationship has absolutely taken a back foot these past 11 weeks and I have come across, for want of a better word, uninterested. I think there are many reasons for this but one of the main ones is that as I am often a shambles of a human, I wonder how on earth he still finds me attractive. Before Rex came along, just being us was always so easy, but now, for the first time, I feel like we sometimes really have to work at it. I knew things would change between us after we had Rex but like so much after having a baby, I was not really prepared for how much it would affect us.
I always liked to think that Eamo and I were invincible, but the reality is that we’re just like any other couple. Relationships need working at sometimes and we are no different. The one thing we have never lost, and it’s the thing I know will keep us solid, is our ability to talk very candidly to each other. All the while he can tell me my farts smell like a badger has died up my ass, I know we’ll be fine ;).
Just for the record babe, I love the absolute friggin bones off you and I definitely would 😉 ❤ xxxxx