I can’t believe I’m writing about this right now. A year ago, I was extremely worried I may not last even a month of breastfeeding and now it’s like I didn’t even feel the year whizz by so fast. First things first, I am not a breastfeeding nazi. I will champion it whenever I can, but I do not condemn moms who choose to bottle-feed instead. If I come off sounding preachy about the whole breastfeeding experience, please don’t take it as something you should be forced to do.
So yes, one year of breastfeeding… how did I get here? Still clear in my memory is the picture of a struggling girl almost drowning on the pressure of being able to produce enough milk for her beautiful newborn. Overwhelmed by the no-sleep, every-hour-feeding (yes! Selene was a voracious eater!), she was in tears almost every other night.
How do I keep up with this? How will I push on with my career? Will it be like this forever (extreme thoughts but thoughts nonetheless)?
During the first three months, negative thoughts permeated my mind. No thanks to the baby blues adding to the monster already in my head, it felt like the worst of times. I was happy and overjoyed when I was with Selene, but as she falls asleep and I’m left thinking to myself, the heaviness inside me slowly creeps up again.
Fast forward to the sixth month, I kept on with breastfeeding exclusively, no bottle-feeds yet. It felt like a feat! I didn’t think I would reach half a frikkin’ year – my then-ultimate goal of exclusive breastfeeding. But during this time, it felt second nature to me, that if it weren’t so taboo in society (and with the existence of manyaks all around), I would just pull down my shirt and let Selene nurse everywhere.
I did stock up on breast milk for when I would leave the house and do whatever it is I have to do. But I had no plans yet of going back to work and leaving my little girl with a yaya (nanny) to take care of her. Nope. If I were a stauncher advocate of something else other than breastfeeding, it would be being a hands-on mom.
I know a few friend-of-a-friend moms who leave their newborns to the care of a nanny. I don’t think they even know how to change a dirty diaper (or ever experienced it). One of them doesn’t even have to work (I would understand that, sure) because she’s just working for her family business. Anyway, this isn’t about that topic so I’ll just stop there.
Although I have to say this.. I’ve come to admire even more now moms who choose to stay at home and take care of their babies. It’s easy to get a nanny and leave everything to her care, so I praise moms who really choose to be hands-on because it’s the tougher, harder and for me only conceivable option (with a few exceptions, of course).
So, back to breastfeeding… onwards the sixth month, all depressive thoughts and those heavy baby blues-induced feelings felt like another era in time. I was back to being the happy, joyful, ecstatic and excited woman I used to be.. ten thousand times more even, as the mushy feelings of overflowing love for Selene that I can’t explain is just too powerful.
I never thought “a mother’s love” was different than any kind of powerful love but it is. It just is. And you’ll only know it when you feel it with your own born child.
We introduced formula on the 10th month and only used it for when I had no more breast milk stored (I got kinda lazy to pump). My feedings dropped during the 11th month as were were trying to wean her off breastfeeding completely by her 1st year. Nope, baby girl would refuse the bottle sometimes and yank my shirt in hopes of going for the boob.
So yes, as I’m writing this, I’ve gone 48 hours without breastfeeding her and it hurts the boob like crazy. I will write about weaning in another entry, though. It’s tough. Brings me back to the feelings of depression I wrote about earlier. I don’t know if that’s normal, but I’m certainly not feeling my usual happy self.
As a final note, I’d have to say I didn’t think I would enjoy breastfeeding Selene as much as I did. I thought all breastfeeding moms saying all these things were half-truths and not at all as they make it sound like. I couldn’t have been more wrong in my life.
It was truly a beautiful, so-much-feels kind of experience that if I didn’t have any plans to do anything this year, I would continue breastfeeding her until her 2nd birthday. The bond is truly different when you breastfeed vs. bottle-feed. I saw it in my elder sister who didn’t breastfeed any of her children and who has a 2-year-old now.
Which is why it pains me more than anything now to say goodbye to the times when Selene would crawl on to me and find my boob, yanking my shirt to signal she’s hungry and wants to feed. We’d go into our favorite side-feed position as she latches on and puts her leg and arm around me. In between the entire feeding (sometimes it’s longer than 30 minutes, mostly it’s between 20-25), we’d look each other in the eye and most of the time, she’d give me that two-teeth wide grin that makes my heart melt and tears fall from my eyes.
30 minutes of detaching myself from the hustle-and-bustle of daily life, the fast-paced world of social media, the internet, everything.. and just lying there, boobs wide open, with the only thing that matters in this crazy, damned world we live in. At the start (around the first month where everything was chaos!), I remember asking myself and Enzo what made other parents even think of wanting so many children when we couldn’t even manage one.
I think I know better now.