Because despite the struggles, pain, discomfort, annoyance, comments from others, and general frowning upon looks by some, I have managed to single-handedly provide for them as babies and ensure their growing and nurture, by myself, using my natural ability to care for them using my breasts. (Yes, yes, daddy has helped with other things).
It is World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August), and I thought I’d write a short post on what this has meant to me, so far, and to thank those that have helped me get where we are today.
I was fortunate enough to breastfeed Bunny up to 16 months, at which point he then weaned himself. I was so heartsore. We had a very bumpy ride at first, but we made it and once we got used to each other, feeding him and nursing him to sleep was effortless. Don’t get me wrong. It was a few weeks of intense pain, cracked and bleeding nipples, and the often onset of thrush. I had the most amazing LLL leader that would be available at all hours of the day, helping me through it, giving me advice, supporting me, or just being there to tell me it was okay to feel the way I was. I remember grinding on my teeth when Bunny latched due to the extreme pain at some point in time. I even broke my one cell phone cause I bit it so hard. But we tackled each obstacle one by one and after a few weeks, we had the best breastfeeding journey ever.
Now with Monkey, we’ve just hit exactly 17 months of breastfeeding. This time it has been just as hard, yet different. What Bunny and I had not experienced, Monkey and I were going through. Wrong latch, severe mastitis (twice), a bubble palate and overall discomfort. It has been a very different experience and one we still struggle with regularly due to the palate. One that I will admit, I don’t enjoy nearly as much as what I did with Bunny. But regardless of my struggles, it is still one that we’re not giving up on and one that I will be heartbroken when it does come to an end. Like last night when he fell asleep in the car on the way home and didn’t nurse when we got him into bed.
For me, breastfeeding is just the natural way and thing to do. I have no clue about formulas. I couldn’t even tell you what is available. For me, it is those few minutes, and sometimes hours where it is just you and your little one. Where it is only you that can do the consoling or the making asleep. It is those memories that I will forever hold dear to me and which I will miss greatly once our journey ends.
I could not have done this and gotten so far if it wasn’t for my LLL leader N.M; my midwife KvdM; my doula L.B; my friend S.B; the mommy Facebook forums and all the advice and tips given on there; and then of course Mr. Bear for sitting up at night with me, while the tears roll down my face as we take on another struggle in the beginning, or him making sure I have enough chocolate to get me through the next day.
I know we are getting closer to the end. And I am treasuring these stolen moments more and more. I don’t want it to end just yet.
Click here for more info on the Art of breastfeeding.
Here are my TOP 52 reasons of why I love you. 1 for each week of this past year.
Your gentle being.
Your emotional connection to others.
Your empathy, you give to others who are hurt and/or sad.
Your beautiful smile.
Your genuine giggles.
Your contagious laugh.
Your hugs, you generously give.
Your wet kisses you love giving.
Your eyes, and how they are wide open and alert.
The color of your eyes, like some exotic sea water.
Your smootchi mouth.
Your curiosity of all the things around you.
Your ability to learn and understand so quickly.
Your determination to get what you want.
Your desire to still want to be connected to me and daddy, by having us pick you up.
Your no-fear attitude, when you climb all the way to the top of the slide.
Your assistance to have me constantly think of new ideas for snacks for you each day.
Your slapping my face while I’m sleeping, just to remind me that I’m not alone.
Your explosive nappies, to let me know you ate well the previous day.
Your love you give us.
Your excitement to see your big brother each day.
Your soft skin.
Your easy going attitude.
Your confidence in new places and doing new things.
Your ability to have fun with simple things like a piece of toilet paper or a wooden spoon.
Your amazement at things we take for granted.
Your constant excitement after a nap and we come get you.
Your willingness to share your toys.
Your warm and inviting eyes.
Your sincerity when you call me “Mama”.
Your intelligence that comes through, even at this young age.
Your good-natured behaviour.
Your constant happiness.
Your gentle, old soul.
Your enthusiasm with regards to doing something or trying something new out.
Your brilliant way of lighting up a room.
Your calming presence.
Your ambition to do what you want.
Your observing of all things around you, not missing a thing.
Your ray-of-sunshine comfort, when times seem dark.
Your creative streaks of playing.
Your attentive eyes when we teach you something completely new.
Your charming personality.
Your golden curly locks.
Your beautiful hands with their long fingers.
Your way of bringing calm to those around you.
Your persuasive ability for things you want or things you want to do.
Your love that you give to all around you.
Your untouched innocence
That lovely blue in your eyes
With my heart you’ve made
Some very special ties
Your flawless little face
Fingers than tangle with mine
Brings a feel of purity
Which is just so divine
Your unfathomable sounds
Your heart-melting smile
Everything that you do
Makes my life worthwhile
Happiest of birthdays, my sweet rainbow child. How I love you so!
Being the 6th of November today (yesterday); marks my little Rainbow Monkey’s 8-monthday! As I counted down the minutes and seconds to mark the “exact” time he was in my arms; I couldn’t help but not just reflect on our birth experience but also on how far I’ve come as a woman and what I had to go through on that day and the days leading up.
Mr. Bear wasn’t even on the same continent as me. We were in different time zones for that matter. Bunny was with a family member and I was pacing the empty house, (literally barely any furniture in it) stopping to breathe with each sporadic contraction. It was my one dread, regarding the birth of Monkey that I knew I’d have to do by myself without my pillar of strength next to me.
Here’s our story and how I’ve come to realize just how strong I actually am as a woman:
We’ve been waiting, not so patiently for Monkey to make his debut into this world. I was in pro-dormal labour for 2 weeks and had tried every non-medical way to get induced to meet this young man. Everything from eating the hottest curry ever, to long walks, bouncing on the ball and even had 2 sweeps done by my midwife. But just like his mother, he was stubborn. And during those 2 weeks, he had taught me the true meaning of patience. “Oh how I hope he is coming… I wish he comes while Mr. Bear is visiting us in South Africa… I think he is on his way… Maybe today is the day…;” those were my thoughts every morning and with every small contraction during each day…
On Saturday, 5 March, I woke up with not much change from the past 2 weeks. Slight contractions, period pain, lower back ache and every other single “sign” that Google says “you’re in labour…” I saw my midwife again that afternoon who did yet another internal and said I had dilated slightly more than the previous time, but was still at roughly 1cm. We decided on doing another sweep as I was exactly 40 weeks by this day. And so back home I went with the “I hope it works” thought.
Early evening my pain became more than the previous times after those sweeps were done. Some contractions even took my breath away and made me stop talking. Mr. Bear even said I sound more “in pain”. The annoying part though was that the contractions were still so irregular that I thought it’s just because of the sweep done earlier. I decided to take the “prescribed” bath to see if it will ease the pain, but it didn’t. I then decided to take 2 panado’s, but also didn’t have any effect on me.
I got into bed at about 22:30, still the contractions were irregular and I’d tell myself “Ok, give it another 30 min” and “Let’s see what happens in the next half an hour”. And by 00:22 Mr. Bear got the This is it, Love. It has begun-call.
My doula arrived first and my midwife soon after. The pool was started being filled while I was pacing the room going through each contraction, thinking to myself “this feeling I know, I had it with Bunny too”.
We did the first internal at 1:35 am and I was relieved when my midwife confirmed that I definitely had progressed since she last saw me this afternoon and I was indeed in labour. Thank the pope!! I was ordered to walk around, go up and down the stairs, bounce on the ball and everything else to open up my pelvis even more. Having a tight muscle in your lower back apparently doesn’t help this cause. At 3:40 am, another internal.
*Note the midwife doesn’t give figures of dilation and all internals are done due to change in my behaviour, expression and/or contractions.
Just after this one, I was allowed to get into the pool as contractions were intense!
“RELIEF! PAIN-FREE! OMG, I CAN STAY HERE FOREVER!” was all I thought…. for a while at least and still definitely better than outside the pool. 4:45 am another internal with another at 6:25 am at which point my waters were broken for me and I was ordered back into the pool. At 6:45 am I told them, baby is coming, I need to start pushing…. At which point my doula started Skyping Mr. Bear so that he could experience the birth as much as possible. (Poor guy was supposed to handle a meeting.)
7:04 am my last internal (while in the pool) “Baby is coming very soon” was all I remember being told… 7:14 am I got to feel the head and by 7:15 am I had pushed Monkey completely out and he was safely above water and in my arms and my heart had doubled in size. With my wonderful Mr. Bear just on the other side of the phone, our youngest prince in my arms, and the other one not too far away, I felt full of love and complete.
(What I did not know and only found out afterwards was this: At 1:35 am I was only 2 cm dilated and I had only moved to 4cm by the time they broke my waters for me. Due to everything progressing (contraction wise, etc, the only thing that stalled baby to come, was my waters, and thus the reason they broke it). By 7:04 am I was 5 cm and progressed the last 5 cm within 10 min.
I wouldn’t change anything about our birthing experience and couldn’t be more ecstatic about the way it happened. Thank you to my wonderful Mr. Bear who suffered with me through this pregnancy, my caring team of caregivers who were always available to help me, KvdM and LB, Bunny who tried his best to help when mommy’s tummy was sore as well as my lovely friends and family.
Monkey born on 6 March 2016 at 7:15 am
Head circumference: 34cm
Looking back at this experience and the few months prior, I have realized how strong I am. I think most women often underestimate their own strength, especially when they are right in the middle of the difficulty.
Yes, the birthing part was relatively easy. But emotionally, I was a wreck. I had, yet again, suffered from HG while pregnant with Monkey. For just over 2 and a half months, I was without Mr. Bear having to juggle selling and packing up home to emigrate; support Bunny (a lot) as he had to start at a new school; all this while being in my last trimester. I was drained, yet I had to stay strong; for my boys and for Mr. Bear.
So whether you are going through something that feels overwhelming at the moment or you have just come out of the dark tunnel; stand still for a moment and realize how far you’ve come and how strong you actually are. Yes, it might not have gone according to how you had wanted it, but in the end, it has made you stronger!
To all those mommies who didn’t get the birth they wanted/planned; to those that tried to breastfeed, but couldn’t; to you ladies who’ve had to say goodbye forever to someone way too soon or never even got to hold your little one; to those who are fighting cancer or other illnesses with everything they’ve got; to those who will never have a child of their own; no matter what your circumstance is, no matter how the day feels like today, you will come out of it stronger than ever before, even if it doesn’t go the exact way you wanted it.
And yes, my story might not seem like a big deal to some of you and someone else’s story might seem effortless to me; one thing that I have realized is that you are never put in a situation that you will not be able to conquer, for you. Not your friend’s or a family member’s, stranger’s next to you or anyone else’s.
It is YOUR story. It is YOUR life. It is YOUR mountain to climb. It is YOUR tunnel to come out of. And when you’ve done that; then YOU are stronger as a being and that is the ultimate definition of how strong you are.
Don’t ever forget it!
*What event in your life has made you stronger than before?*