A few weeks after Baxter was born, and feeling slightly adventurous in my new role, I began to arrange meet ups with mothers I’d met during pre-natal yoga (yes, I’d become one of them). The yoga was a free perk from the hospital I was using, and a much welcome calm to the head fuck that was pregnancy. The other mothers-to-be were a perk, especially when I knew I wasn’t alone in my constant battle for the loo, sleepless nights, achingly restless legs (I could go on and on and on)…
We’d meet. Babies still in their bellies, as I was one of the first to pop. All looking over my little man as he lay sleeping in his basket in the grass. “Oh, I hope my baby is as calm as yours.” “He’s perfect” A little wriggle, a tiny cry and out would come the bottle for a feed. Yes, the bottle. My perfectly content little boy would not take to the breast. Every few hours, I’d sit hooked up to a breast pump - I can still hear the mechanical whirs as the plastic cones syphoned what little milk I had to give into canisters, the sharp sting of milk shooting out of me, the dewy stickiness of yellow milk inescapably covering everything.
I would sit for hours, slave to that machine, trying to give all that I could to that beautiful little boy of mine. In the earliest days, I was lucky enough to have my mother here, she’d bake oatmeal cookies, serve fennel tea, light a dyptique candle, dim the lights and leave me to it. Locked in my room. whomp whomp. whir whir. spray spray. whomp whomp. whir whir. spray spray. Hands holding the pumps. The bra that holds the pumps conveniently delayed in the post. No freedom to flip through a book, or even easily eat those biscuits and sip that tea.
whomp whomp. whir whir. drip drip drip.
Time went on. The other mamas had their babies. All taking to the breast.
What beautiful sights of clinging babes. Nursing their mama's milk. Free from bottles. Skin on skin.
I happily kept on with the bottles. Switching from my own milk to formula, in order to keep up with his growing demands. My hollow legged son.
The midnight messages from the other mamas grew less. Hearing that I wasn’t having the same “feeding issues” as them. But we just trecked on. My little night owl and me. Taking turns with my wonderful husband. Thank goodness for that incredible man. Thank goodness for not being the CONSTANT food source. Cause, man, it’s exhausting.
You know, motherhood can be a very isolating place, but only if you let it.
Whether you ditch the boob. Ditch the formula. Or use both.
Whether your partner pitches in, or not.
Do what works best for you and that little bundle of awesomeness you made. And don’t let anyone make you feel like you aren’t doing your best. Because chances are, you are.
And p.s. at six months they’ll be on solids and all that faff will seem a blur.