My thoughts on that breastfeeding photo

Some friends asked me how I felt about the photo circulating around on social media, of a lady breastfeeding openly on the mrt train. And then her subsequent facebook post declaring that she was not affected by the photo going around AND standing firm that there is nothing wrong with it. 

Well, before I start, congratulations on making it to the news and raising awareness on breastfeeding. 

My personal views on this episode? 

First, as a breastfeeding mother, I  feel the difficulties. Many times over the last 2 years,  Little Foot wants milk at the most inappropriate moments. And she wasn’t going to guai guai keep quiet if I didn’t let her get to the tap. And nope, she wasn’t going to wait till we reach the next private spot. 
Sometime before her 1st birthday, she also started to protest about the nursing cover. So I would run. Literally carry her and run to find a nursing room or sit in the car (oh yes, the luxury of having the mobile space). So we will not be nursing in full view of others. 

Then I started to educate her. Logic + nagging. Because I got tired of the situation!

“Do you want other babies to drink milk milk?” …”do you want uncles to see mummy milk?” . She got the idea somewhere along the way. And so we reached a nice compromise. She goes into the carrier and she would say “cover cover!” and nurse. Only in the car or when we have a room of sorts can she nurse without restriction. Fair deal.
So that’s us.  

Second, we all have rights. Your rights don’t overshadow mine and vice versa. I feel that perhaps all parties need not be self-entitled/ overly self-righteous.
It was not right for the busybody person to take the photo and post it online. That person ought to be ashamed of him/herself for doing it. 

Yet I also wonder if it was a little much to demand that a cabin full of folks who are not used to such a sight be made to watch in discomfort or “just look away” as the lady puts it. Just because “#proudbreastfeedingmama #useplasticbagtocoveryourselfwhenyoueat#nowrong #mybabywillalwayscomefirst #breastservingdifferentpurposes #notjustsex“?

 (so many hashtags…#fierce)

No babies are the same. Some prefer bottles, some want to directly latch, some reject milk. Some are feisty, some are gentle. So are adults. No two persons comfort level are the same. 

Personally, I respect that breastfeeding may make others uncomfortable. I have been there. I respect Papa Long’s discomfort at letting other men view what he felt they weren’t entitled to. 

And I respect our community’s awkwardness at what they feel is too much while some mothers, especially those who champion breastfeeding, challenge that it is a natural thing to do.

I also understand that there are girls and women who haven’t gotten to my stage and will be uncomfortable at the sight. I remember declaring how I was “scarred for life” when I witnessed my elder sister expressed milk some 10 years ago. And I almost never got round to accepting that I will do it one day because that is a natural thing to do. 

Today, people are actually awkward when I mention that I am still breastfeeding. Some of the elders frown discreetly. Some tell me in my face “够了” (enough already). I take it in my stride. Imagine me getting all riled up, whipping out my boob and breastfeeding in front of them just to make a stand. A bit much isn’t it? 

As an early Gen Yer, I watch how people from Gen X and older complain about us and the millenials saying we have a false sense of entitlement. Perhaps they are not too far from the truth? 

The lady challenged naysayers to try eating and drinking under covers.likely adapted from  arguments of “if you wouldn’t eat your lunch in the toilet, don’t ask my baby to.”

Telling people this is common space. Not happy you look away also hint of that sense of self-entitlement. 

Well…. if it was me, perhaps I would have gotten off the train and searched for a quiet corner to nurse. Maybe on days when I have more resolve, I may have tried to promote delayed gratification (a necessary lifeskill that parents today are stuggling to help their children learn because of or “instant” society and indulgent ways, and which Papa Long nags me about) and told Little Foot to wait or she can cry till we reach our destination (woe betide the other commuters). I would definitely have first offered alternatives like milk bottle (is it still no milk bottle drinking policy on trains?) or tried other distraction techniques. 

Still, who am I to say or judge? Because her comfort levels, views on this subject, and circumstances are not the same as mine. 

So I will reserve my judgement on this. 

And I wish her well on her motherhood journey. 

Meantime, I prefer that people don’t make sweeping statements about breastfeeding mums. 

We are have something in common, but that’s almost as good as just saying we are all humans. 

What I write may rile us some in the breastfeeding, but well, it is my personal stance. No offence. 
Peace. Out. 

A tiny issue there….

Being back at work is one thing. Being back at work while still a lactating mum is another thing.  I’m still trying to figure the whole situation out.

I don’t know how my friends coped when they went back at 3 or 4 months post delivery (I remember it used to get so painful if I didn’t pump or latch on time).

Maybe it’s just the way I am. I am happy to inform the blogosphere that I’m a breastfeeding mother. At work however,  I feel inclined not to shout it out loud if I can help it.

I feel paiseh…. whenever I have to explain to someone that I’ll be “downstairs”, especially the guys. So it turned out, my one pump a day around 2pm is almost always delayed.

And here’s the tricky thing, how to survive being at an event the whole day (off-site). I will find out next week.

Not a person to shun duties, so I do feel that it is inappropriate to say “can you don’t roster me?” (Because helloooo. .. I can’t be carrying my pumps and bottles around).

Let’s hope I don’t get one of those epic blocked ducts episodes again next week. Feel feverish  just thinking about it.

So yes, welcome back to work, mama… maybe mothers like me are too conservative and being too hard on ourselves.

Nearing the end of the milk journey

Little Foot turned 20 weeks old yesterday… and today, we realised that as days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months, she had slowly but surely outgrown colic. Today, we were pleasantly surprised when realised that she didn’t have a bloated tummy anymore.

Nothing brings more joy than knowing that the worst is over.

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Happy Little Foot showing off her flat tummy this afternoon

Over the last couple of weeks, I also noticed that her appetite had increased, and suddenly, we were digging into the modest frozen milk stash we had to make sure she had enough to drink.

All the signs are showing that our days of breastfeeding are numbered.

Little Foot was only a fully breastfed baby from 2 month old, after we figured out that formula milk was adding to her tummy woes. Thankfully, somehow, there was just enough to feed her on a normal day, and on her milk strike days, we stored the excess. To Little Foot, I can only say, it was love that gave me enough determination to keep pumping, latching, trying until there was enough milk. It was love that made me wake up in the middle of the night walking like a zombie to the living room to pump while the world and my baby slept soundly.

What a long way we had come.

At 1 week old, she pushed me away and opted for milk bottles. Miraculously, at 6 weeks old she pushed away the milk bottle for the first time and wanted to latch again at the nursing room at the Baby fair in Suntec. By 2 months old – she refused her milk bottles. It was her way of telling me “Mummy, hold me tight and I’ll be fine” while the colic raged. I took on the challenge, and like my older sister said, how ironic things could be. Everyone expected me to be the cool mama who would be happy to just do “enough” and then give formula milk. Who would have known we would be in this situation that milk powder was a no no?

In the four months, I’ve seen two ends of the spectrum – mummies with too much milk (and some still unsatisfied and keep listening out for and loading up on foods that could bring up supply), and mummies like me, who have too little milk, with some stopping as early as the first couple of weeks.

To both ends of the spectrum, I can only say, time will equalise everything. Certainly, there will be a time when the milk runs dry, and we are no longer judged by whether we are breastfeeding mums or not. Then, we will be judged on other things – time and effort spent on our child – not judged by something that is decided mostly by nature.

As my breastfeeding journey is nearing an end, I can safely say I have done my best, and done what I can. I may not have been a milk fountain, and my baby may not look like a Michelin tyre mascot, but I have done my best. And it has been a wonderful time of bonding.

In a way, I’m thankful that I can stop the constant worry over the last two months that we might run out of milk (and then what can she drink???).

I’m also getting pretty excited as we now start preparations in anticipation of weaning and starting Little Foot on solid food (read: bought many things).

The day of returning to beer, coffee and spicy food is near. Yay!

To all mummies and mummies to be, whether it was 1 drop, 1 day, 1 week, or a Kallang river of milk, whatever we can give, we have given. Don’t feel bad about peer pressure, and definitely don’t feel pressured to the point of eating any damn thing that is touted as a milk booster. Quality over quantity. That’s what I will continue to advise anyone who asks. I learnt it the hard way when I took Fenugreek and only realised weeks later that it was one of the culprits that made Little Foot’s stomachache worse (if not the root cause).

To drive the point home – my mother never breastfed me, but that had never hindered my connection and relationship with her. Life is more than just milk. Anyway, by 18 months when they are of playgroup age, we won’t be comparing milk anymore, but what sort of “enrichment” classes  our bubs are signed up for, and milk will be just a distant memory.