by gillian claire: breastfeeding



world breastfeeding week + why i don't find judgement "natural"


( just a couple recent favorite photos of me + my current and former nurslings )
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 i never want judgement to come "naturally" to me either. that's when i know something is wrong with the way i'm viewing motherhood.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
(asher, breastfeeding, november 2012)
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ten percent.

last night was filled with all these great dreams. i mean really, great dreams. i dreamed that i was fourteen again and hugging aaron goodbye at church camp. we slipped notes into each other's pockets. i felt filled with that girly feeling of falling in love. then it fast forwarded to a dream where asher was a newborn. he was wearing a little striped outfit and i was holding him, all curled up, in front of the window, and saying to myself in my head, "remember this moment. because the rest of your life you will miss this."

today i'm at the coffee shop with my boys while aaron works down the street. i really have everything i've ever wanted. the boy who i daydreamed of eleven years ago is now my husband. i have a little four year old artist boy. who says to me, "mama, would you like to go to the coffee shop with me today?" who brings his little bag of art supplies in with him. 
i have my teeny chubby roly poly baby, who i hoped and prayed for. who wears his brother's hand me downs. he smells like a cabbage patch baby and smiles without me even having to ask.

i wish i could always remind myself of this.
90 percent of my life feels like pure chaos. breastfeeding on the floor in front of the space heater in a freezing house. surrounded by a huge mess. piles of laundry that will get worn without ever being folded. exhausted with dirty hair. feeling like i can't accomplish anything.
yeah, that's about 90 percent of my life.
but i guess it's this,
watching roman light up when he sees the chalkboard wall in the bathroom at the coffee shop,
sipping a caramel iced coffee next to my sleeping little cherub baby asher,
this golden 10 percent is what keeps me going.
and reminds me that this is all i've ever wanted.
asher and i amidst the chaos.

first week.

asher's first week of life in the hospital
 was one of the longest and most fleeting,
most beautiful and most terrifyingly exhausting,
most memorable
weeks of my life.

laying in that gorgeous birthing tub, looking out at the beautiful afternoon sky,
realizing that no, the water is NOT going to take away the pain of my baby coming out.
slippery, purple, tiny, perfect baby on my chest grunting for breath.
the sadness and worry of having him taken away.
seeing him so little and sweet in his warming bed, covered with tubes, breathing too fast.
finally skin to skin again with my baby at one day old.
moving to a new room in the nursery.
waiting to see roman again with butterflies in my stomach,
 he looked SO big.
watching his eyes twinkle, and seeing the most real smile i've ever seen as he saw his baby brother for the first time.
finally getting to bring my baby to my hospital room for little bittersweet moments at a time.
wrinkly peely newborn skin.
breastfeeding again.
evenings in the nursery with my husband.
watching asher mimick my husband's faces.
bumblebee blanket.
finally going home.


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