Sorry it’s been so quiet around here! We went on another camping trip–better prepared this time around. 🙂 We also camped in cabins–they didn’t have running water, and evenings were spent around campfires, so I still consider it camping. It was beautiful.
We camped on the Missouri River in South Dakota. We spent our days with my husband’s side of the family at the Oahe Dam and evenings on the river watching fish jump and sharing stories and burnt marshmallows aglow with firelight. The image above was morning from the deck of our cabin. Sigh, so peaceful, right?
Crickets. So quiet you could hear them. Not there, on the river. Here, on this health & fitness turned mommy blog. Not just in the last week while we were away, but during the last 6 months since I’ve had this baby. I’ve been really quiet about one particular thing. It’s the thing I spend most of my days (and nights-still!) doing.
No, I’m not talking about wearing my baby as I am in the picture above. Although we do a lot of that. What we do, we sometimes do while I wear him though….
Nursing. I prefer to call it this, but it’s World Breastfeeding Week, so let’s call a boob a boob and nursing breastfeeding. This, THIS, is what we do. A lot. As in every 2 hours or less for the last 6 months a lot. Through the night too. He still doesn’t really know what to do with a bottle. Give one to him, and he will hold it & bite at it like a chew toy, but he doesn’t really drink from it. So we nurse–er, breastfeed. All. The. Dang. Time.
Which is funny because before baby, I always thought breastfeeding was kind of weird. Gross even. When I was pregnant, I’d read and heard that breast is best. So I planned to pump. Pumping, I thought, would be a decent middle ground. My baby could still get the benefits of breastmilk, but my breasts wouldn’t have to have a baby attached to them. Also, I could see and be sure how much my baby would be getting, so I wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not he was getting enough.
Typical naivety of a non-parent on thinking pumping would be perfect. Typical societal conditioning of a person who grew up with mothers, sisters, and sisters-in-law who formula fed thinking breastfeeding was weird. And before I go on, I want to pause here and SHOUT I am in no way trying to call out formula feeding mothers as bad mothers. We are all doing the best we can, right? Right.
However, because of my formula feeding families, formula feeding friends, and much of society, I became a breastfeeding mother who was uncomfortable with breastfeeding. Especially in public. Also, I’m a modest mom. So, I’ve spent much of the last 6 months inside. I’ve spent much of the last 6 months planning outings around perceived possible nursing times. I’ve nursed in the back of my car on hot days. I’ve nursed with the car running, doors locked, in the backseat on the hottest days. I’ve clung to a cover with my sons hands waving wildly around trying to swipe it away because eating under a blanket in the summer is just so much fun! I’ve been sentenced to spend much of my weekends with family in another room. I’ve felt isolated and lonely. I’ve felt angry and irritated. I’ve felt afraid.
At the same time, I’ve felt more proud of my body than I ever have. It grew a baby inside of it for 41 weeks and then nourished that baby for the last 6 months by making milk. It makes me feel powerful and feminine and natural and even beautiful. Me–the constant self critic–especially when it comes to my body.
The duality of these emotions has been a huge source of stress for me. Has made something that should just be natural and normal and beautiful into something that’s seemingly shameful at times. So this past weekend was even more beautiful and magical because of all of that. Because in the midst of a mostly formula feeding family, for the first time, I nursed my baby outside. In the midst of one who once voiced how an image of a mother breastfeeding in public wasn’t something that should be done, I stayed outside.
In the cool evening breeze, underneath this wise old cottonwood tree, I sat and nursed my hungry son to sleep. It was the most beautiful feeling on the most beautiful evening I have experienced in the last 6 months. In fact, it rivaled our wedding. And like the wedding, it was preceded by weeks of worrying and planning how it would be done–not the nursing outside–the nursing in a hot car or under a hot cover or a quarter mile down the road at our cabin with a crying baby for that whole walk. All that worry for nothing. Nothing but doing the most natural thing IN nature.
I feel like I have finally come home.
PS. Not a nipple was shown.