I always knew that I would be a breastfeeding mother. As little girls my sister and I shoved our dollies up our jumpers in a show of solidarity with the various aunties and friends who nursed their little ones at family get-togethers. Once over the plethora of problems which plagued the first days of feeding my son I adored the special bond our breastfeeding brought, and was emotionally torn when, already pregnant again, he self weaned.
There is something magical in watching a child grow before your eyes and knowing that you did that. C is now more than two pounds above her birthweight, and every single one of those ounces is down to me. The gluggy nightfeeds, frantic oft-interrupted by toddler day feeds and endless evening clusterfeeds are all more than worth it now I can no longer stuff her into a newborn babygro. I am a simple type, I work well on a reward basis (sticker chart anyone?) and I now have the ultimate visual reminder that the hard work is worth it. And it is hard work. No-one else can feed C. I'm still Leaky McLeakerton and getting through breastpads and matronly feeding bras at a rate of knots. Although I quite fancy my husband again, in a sad reversal of my teenage exploits any fumblings for the next few months will definitely have to be bottom half only. Until I can find the time and inclination to sterilise the breastpump and a bottle I have no hope of leaving her for more than a few minutes at a time, and she might, like her brother, reject anything but the good stuff straight from source anyway.
With reward also comes great responsibility of course, and I have always been a worrier. I scrutinise nappies, weighing up whether their wetness means C's getting enough. If she has a short feed I panic my supply will dip in response. If she has a long feed I worry my milk is drying up. As she flops drunkenly from my breast, the last drops dribbling from the corner of her mouth, I scrutinise them for evidence that it's creamy hindmilk goodness rather than grey, watery foremilk that's sent her into a warm fug. It's all OK of course. In reality C would make herself very well heard was I starving her. But much as I would love to be one of those laid-back breastfeeding mothers, I feel that despite the fantastic weight gain I will always be on the look out for extra reassurance that I am doing a good job. Imagine having sole responsibility for the most precious thing in the world. Surely that would keep anyone on their toes?