Breast feeding... Such a sensitive subject. All of us parents have our own story to tell. Too many of those include some pain, some agony, some emotional or physical trauma, or both.
Cassidy and I had a really difficult start.. She has a posterior tongue tie and a high pallet which made establishing a latch quite difficult and painful.
We persevered. We had great support. And I'd done it successfully once before, so I knew a bit about how.
We muddled our way through truly rubbish services, horrendous advice, supply issues, suspected thrush, a few bouts of mastitis, agonising pain, weight loss, threats of hospital re-admission, so many tears ... and after about 11 weeks, things started to improve...
We were the lucky ones... We had HUGE, hands on, around the clock support from Tom, inspiring women occupy my life, left right and centre, we had a wonderfully warm and knowledgeable health visitor, our local breast feeding group and their peer supporter welcomed us in the early months ... And I practically read everything ever written on KellyMom.com and then, when I thought I'd lost my local tribe to weaning, I found the Bath La Leche League.
The World Health Organisation recommends babies are exclusively breastfed for 6 months and then the journey continues, to 2 years and beyond, until (if left to wean at natural term) an infant gradually ends their own requirement for human milk.
We did it.
We established a (mostly) pain free latch. Cassidy exclusively breastfed for 6 months... we started baby led weaning ... and then we flew passed 12 months. Introduction of solid food was typical. Slow and sporadic. She gradually began replacing milk with food and sometimes when she got poorly, she'd replace food with milk.
Somewhere along the way, I discovered the fascinating world of the human microbiome and the sometimes overwhelming, yet awe-inspiring truth behind the tailor made nature of human milk and its medicinal value.. I can't even begin to fathom the implications of its withdrawal on future generations of human. The sheer magnitude of content and consequence is mind boggling. See.. http://www.human-milk.com/science.html
Then... we passed 2 years... into the uncharted territory of 'still' feeding a toddler.. People used to ask A LOT if I was 'still feeding' her... I dont honestly know where all of them were coming from. Some were caring, some curious, some cut me with their words. I've never felt so damn proud and yet so guarded and judged about anything, ever.
Some places aren't like that. Some places I go, I can be sure I'm around true friends. Everyone needs those people. Those places.
Last summer was my first Shambala Festival
Anyone who's ever been will tell you; Shambala is not just a festival. It's a magical place where anything and everything goes, it's full of people who accept you not only for who you are but who you were and who you wish you could be. A place where you get to play at being that, ideal you, in your own private utopia, just for a time. I've never felt so comfortable in my womanhood, in my parenthood, as I did at #Shambala.
And yet. I doubted whether I should post this picture, publicly. My favourite picture of me. Ever. For fear of judgement.... From who exactly? Fuck knows. Fuck them.
I'm so proud of my girl. And I'm pretty damn proud of me too... mostly. Some days as a mum are so incredibly hard, just existing feels like some sort of failure. And then other days, or bits of days, you get to experience joy beaming between you and your little creations in a way that's somehow beyond anything you're able to imagine before you made those tiny smiles.
I want to celebrate our journey.. I'm so very proud of how far we've come. And I can't even begin to imagine how far we've yet to go...