Our Breastfeeding Journey – The Woman Behind the Woolly Boob

At 37 weeks today, Esmé has been earthside as long as she was in utero. What a journey it has been. With my return to work in full swing, it seems a good time to introduce the woman behind the woolly boob.

I’ve ummed and ahhed about sharing this, as my personal journey of motherhood is not particularly relevant to your experience. When I come and see you, you and your baby is all it is about. However I know it is nice for you to know more about the person you allow into your home to support you at one of the most important times in your life, and what they understand of how you feel.

The truth is that none of my pregnancies, births or breastfeeding experiences have come easy.

Baby #1 ~ 2009 💙

I was crippled with SPD during pregnancy and found it very difficult. I never ‘bloomed’ and felt generally unwell throughout. He was born prematurely by emergency c-section after a very long and difficult back to back labour. The furthest cry from the peaceful hypno-waterbirth I’d hoped for.

An undiagnosed tongue tie made everything harder and leaving NICU took much longer as a result. After 7 long weeks of expressing and bottle feeding expressed breastmilk he finally attached and breastfed. He continued to breastfeed for 9 months, coming to a horribly abrupt end, on the day my father suddenly died.

Nothing about my first experience of pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding was fun.

However, I was hooked on motherhood.

Baby #2 ~ 2011 💗

A very sicky pregnancy, SPD and some very painful varicosities thrown in for good measure. All quite typical for a subsequent pregnancy, which in general are harder than the 1st, but it was not an enjoyable pregnancy. I struggled physically throughout and I could not wait for it to be over.

This time I had a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean), but another difficult back to back labour and a dramatic birth requiring painful healing. Another tongue tie, so back to expressing again while she was unable to latch, but following a swift division on day 4 she breastfed with no major issues until 21 months. This was an incredibly healing experience for me following such a difficult breastfeeding journey previously.

Pregnancy #3 ~ 2016

This pregnancy ended in a full miscarriage at 7 weeks.

Something I appeared to take in my stride at the time, not quite realising how traumatic this actually was.

Something that I am still processing and coming to terms with.

Something I will never forget.

Baby #3 / Pregnancy #4 ~ 2018 🌈

My Rainbow.. But she came with one heck of a storm.

This pregnancy was very traumatic. Hyperemesis gravidarum throughout, hospital admissions, copious medication, crippling SPD, polyhydramnios, gestational diabetes, 4 insulin injections per day, 4 blood checks per day, rhinitis, varicosities, plagued with premature labour signs, all among a host of other symptoms. Physically I felt tortured. Emotionally I was wrecked. This resulted in antenatal depression, diagnosed at around 22 weeks. My wonderful Midwife picked up on this and supported me amazingly, as did my close friends, I’ve never needed them more.

This pregnancy ended in emergency C-section at 37 weeks due to uncontrolled diabetes. It wasn’t until after I’d delivered her that I realised quite how unwell I was. ANOTHER tongue tie and put on the hypoglycaemic pathway. After an initial weight loss I was pressured to ‘top up’ during another long hospital stay. Continued problems with latching, a bubble palate and coming off shields. It was another tricky start.

Something to be grateful for (aside from my beautiful children of course); I’m convinced that hideous pregnancies followed by a shedload of oxytocin has protected me from any baby blues whatsoever with all 3 babies. I’m just so happy they are out.

I’m sorry if this paints a negative picture of my experiences. Whilst the growing and delivering part of motherhood has been tricky, I adore being a mummy.

I was certain Esmé would be our last child, but I really love the baby bit. My husband does too. At the moment we can’t say never again. Time will tell!

Why am I sharing this?

To let you know that I get it.

I truly get how hard it is.

I know what it is to be struggling with a painful recovery and a baby that won’t breastfeed. I know what it is to feel utterly destroyed with exhaustion. I know what it is to wonder how you are possibly going to get through. I know what it is to need to be listened to. I know how it feels when you get good support.

All my experiences set me on the path to what I do now. It made me realise what vulnerable, exhausted, emotional and determined new mothers really need.

Support. Support. Support.

Mothers. are amazing. Their resilience goes beyond all measure. We deserve to be listened to. We deserve to be supported.

You are not alone.