by gillian claire: world breastfeeding week + my thoughts related.

8.05.2013

world breastfeeding week + my thoughts related.

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( just a couple recent favorite photos of me + my current and former nurslings )
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i’m having a lot of conflicting feelings this year during world breastfeeding week. i feel like it might be safe to say that i am as or more passionate about breastfeeding as anyone. i have been breastfeeding for the past 5 years of my life which isn’t much to some people but to most people i’d say it is. that’s a lot of breastfeeding.
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breastfeeding is something that has become such a way of life for me. personally, i always knew i would breastfeed. and now, i  feel like maybe i have a million different breastfeeding topics that i could expand upon such as the many benefits of breastfeeding, my journey and struggles breastfeeding a tongue tied baby, my experience with extended breastfeeding, breastfeeding a second time around, breastfeeding + the nicu, breastfeeding + co-sleeping… and so-on and so-forth.
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breastfeeding is something that i am passionate about. that i love. that is part of me. that is part of my children. but, this year breastfeeding is bringing up a lot of of other feelings for me and one of those is the feeling of exclusion.
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in my life, i have definitely felt a lot of “exclusion” from other people when it comes to my beliefs and parenting practices. and heck, also my lifestyle in general. the list includes: getting married young, having babies young, breastfeeding, breastfeeding (albeit modestly) in public (GASP), breastfeeding my toddlers (FAINT),  sleeping with my babies, sleeping with my toddlers, delayed vaccinations/opting out of vaccinations, homeschooling, etc. sometimes this bothers me a lot. it bothers me that people feel that they can say whatever they want to say to me about my choices when i haven't said anything to them. this really bothers me in any situation. i cannot imagine opening my mouth and judging someone so openly. so harshly. i’m sure all mothers can relate to me here.  there is just something about becoming a mother that opens you up to this world of everyone telling you what to do and most importantly what you are doing wrong. I will never understand this. never, never  - never.
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and then there is the exclusion on the other side. i attended a breastfeeding event recently in my new town which is where this observation really stood out to me. one part of me was very happy to be attending this event. it was something special that i had planned to do with my littlest son. it was fun to be around a lot of people who shared in my beliefs and to be in a place where i did not have to feel excluded. however, it also made me feel uneasy. it made me feel uneasy to be in a place where women who don’t breastfeed or can’t breastfeed wouldn’t feel welcome.  a place where you would feel guilty if you planned a natural childbirth but ended up with a c-section. a place where you might want to run and hide before whipping out the disposable diapers from your bag when all the other babies were wearing cloth.
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i know that we “hippie” moms like to think of ourselves as being so “natural”. i am pretty obsessed with the word natural come to think of it. but what is so natural about having an event where a professional photographer wants to takes a photo of everyone breastfeeding at the same time trying to beat a world record? there is just something so strikingly bizarre about that to me.
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obviously,  i am passionate about breastfeeding and i believe that “breast milk is best". i would love to inspire other women and help them to be able to feel that they too can choose breastfeeding for their families. however, i do not believe it is the end all. i do not believe that i am the best mother. not at all. i have so many limitations and weaknesses as a mother.
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i guess what i'm trying to say, is that even though people have definitely made me feel excluded because of my parenting choices, i never want to make someone else feel that way. i’m so thankful that i have been able to connect with mothers out there who are doing things all different ways and i’m thankful that they have felt that they could connect with me as well. each one of these mothers i admire for different reasons. i am thankful for their kind comments to me, and i am thankful that they have never made me feel excluded. let’s all please continue to be friends and build each other up. that is what i want most of all.
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i have a lot of work to do to become more of the person that i want to be and of course i'm not sure what the answer is. i'm not saying that the event i attended was a "bad thing" or that i will never attend an event like that again. these are just the thoughts that are accompanying my mind as i celebrating nursing and what it has meant for my babies and myself.
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we all have a different story as it relates to feeding our babies. for me, it has been exclusive breastfeeding at birth and extended breastfeeding against societal norms for both of my boys. there have been great joys and also struggles. this year, during world breastfeeding week,  i would love to hear what role breastfeeding has played in your life, if any, and what it has meant for you :)
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(asher, breastfeeding, november 2012)
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4 comments:

  1. Those top pictures are so lovely. You're a cute and beautiful momma.

    I know what you mean. I'm so glad I haven't been noticeably judged much for making a lot of those same choices you've made in motherhood. I guess I'm lucky I come from a crunchy family. :P But there have been a few very painful times when I have been vocally criticized and judged and it made me really upset. I'm with you on the stance of believing other mamas are most likely doing the best they can given their circumstances, and even if they're not, who on earth are we to judge them for their decisions? Eesh!

    I think it's sweet that you do extended breastfeeding! I went well above average with both boys. It's funny because my mom was like, "Don't wean yet!" and my mom-in-law was like, "When are you gonna wean already?" HAH. One of the big differences between mine and hubby's families. But I just did whenever it felt right, and overall it was a lovely experience. I'm thankful I was able to!!!


    With the second

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  2. You are an awesome Mama, Gillian. You inspire me to follow my heart and instincts when it comes to mothering my precious baby boy. The topic of breastfeeding is such a sore subject for me. I wanted so, so badly to breastfeed Henry and we tried and tried for MONTHS with no luck. I felt like a complete failure as a mother when I decided to quit trying and just pump exclusively. I pumped until my body quit producing(usually by hand) and it was exhausting but I did it because it was important to me for Henry to have breast milk for as long as possible. As hard as it was, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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  3. THOSE PICS!! OMG just perfect. Love sooo much. Beautiful.

    I was thankful to be able to nurse Mace. I nursed him for nine months and that just seemed about the right time for both of us to wean. Luckily I had frozen milk saved up, so he still had breast milk until he was almost a year old.

    I have had a couple of friends who had really tough goes at breastfeeding. One of them ended up exclusively pumping for as long as she could hack it--I think a few months--until it was more stress on her than it was worth. The other breastfed for a few weeks and then couldn't any longer because of a medication she had to start. She was pretty upset about it.

    I hope if/when I have more children, I'm able to nurse again!

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  4. your thoughts about breastfeeding reflect my own. these past three months -- while exclusively breastfeeding roman -- have been some of the most challenging & rewarding of my life. through the experience, i have learned how important it is to support all mamas -- no matter what road they choose. what is important is that our babies are healthy & loved, loved, loved.

    your boys are so lucky to have you. <3

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