We have just had World Breastfeeding Week - another week promoting the benefits of breastfeeding.
This is the one thing that only I can do for him. Selfishly, the one thing that keeps him a mummy's boy when he's on the verge of following in his brothers footsteps to 'There's no one quite like Daddy' land.
He's just one year old and refuses to take any form of milk from a cup or bottle.
When he's calm and sleepy, feeding him definitely enforces a special bond between us. It gives me time to stop and appreciate the little person he has become. How much he's grown, what a distant memory that baby being tube-fed in neonatal is. The wonder that my body grew this baby and provided nourishment to further grow him into a boisterous toddler.
When he decides he's bored, thirsty or just feeling needy, feeding a one year old can be like trying to feed a chimpanzee doing somersaults on your lap. I swear sometimes he thinks my nipple stretches like a piece of chewing gum across the room. Picture offering your boob up as a giant stress ball. Not a pretty sight or feeling!
Breast feeding has done nothing for my waistline and even less for my sleep schedule, but I still don't want to give up yet.
Don't get me wrong, I'd quite like to pick something to wear which didn't have easy boob access. I'd really, really like to go out with my husband, get drunk on cocktails and go to bed just the two of us for a full nights sleep! Im pretty sure there are breastfeeding and formula feeding mamas all over wishing for the same but it's been a very long time since I could do any of this, so I'm blaming it all on my boobing baba!
I am NOT a breast feeding mum who thinks it's the be all and end all! It's just the path that has been for my second boy. I love doing it yes, but sometimes it's bloody hard work.
I've also been the mum for whom it didn't work out. A first time mum with so much pressure on herself along with an idealistic idea of what breastfeeding should be. I wasn't prepared for the cluster feeding, having to work on the 'perfect latch' or one little person being so completely dependent on only me. By the time I'd looked for help and found it, my ears were closed. I don't think there was anything she could of said or done for me that would have changed our outcome. I'd given up in my head long before our last feed.
One thing I always remember being said was 'never give up on a bad day.' I did. I gave up on New Year's Eve 2014, the day my first born turned six weeks. I cried and cried. Not because I was upset about giving up breastfeeding - those tears came in the weeks and months to follow, but because I was in so much pain and so emotionally and physically tired.
Looking back, perhaps that shouldn't have been the day I quit, but it was the best thing I could have done at the time. I had waited too long to ask for help. I was unhappy and resenting my beautiful baby instead of enjoying the precious newborn moments that pass us by in the midst of nappy changes and burping.
He is now a healthy, lively and extremely loving two and a half year old. His lack of breast milk hasn't done him any harm as far as I can see. He is rarely sick and has never needed an antibiotic.
My first experience armed me with a little knowledge of what to expect second time round. I knew when things got bad again to ask for help straight away. I listened and followed all the advice I was given. I promised myself this time I wouldn't give up on a bad day and most importantly, I refused to feel pressurised that breast was best. Maybe it is, but keeping my family of four happy was much higher on my list of priorities.
So, no pressure, an open mind and a bit of perseverance has got us here - and the end of the road is a bit away yet.
When I started this blog I never intended there to be so many posts about breastfeeding, but the media surrounding the issue is rife at the moment and yes, I totally agree breastfeeding needs to be normalised.
I hope when my sons are older they won't cringe or feel uncomfortable seeing a woman feed her child. It's natural. I don't think we need to 'teach' children how to breastfeed, but only by feeding openly in front of them will it show them how normal it is. It's not for everyone, and I get that. If its not for you that is fine! But if it is something you want to do... Don't ever feel you should hide it, and never be afraid to ask for help if you want it.
Maybe when woman feel comfortable enough to feed their baby anywhere without fear of feeling judged the breastfeeding rates will rise.