My Body is not Always Making a Statement

I am an advocate of breastfeeding.  I am an advocate of positive female body image.  I am an advocate of women.

Plus, I’m a writer, so I make statements – literally – every day about the significance of these causes.

And all I have to do is turn on the television, or open a magazine, and I’m reminded as to why these statements are needed.

I see breastfeeding positioned in the media as a divisive opinion topic, whereas formula feeding has been subtly embedded into our lives with such success that hardly without an exception, every baby in every film, show or drama is depicted on screen as a formula fed baby.

I see headlines sprawled across magazines celebrating a celebrity mom’s speedy return to her pre-pregnancy weight…while others point fingers at the famous mothers who have held onto their baby bellies.

I see – and as a woman, I feel – at every junction of life, that the notion of equality between men and women is still so far from our reality.

#BumpSquad Solidarity

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I signed up to a pregnancy yoga class.  I imagined a weekly session of gentle stretching and breathing techniques to prepare my body for the upcoming birth.  In reality though, the class offered me so much more.

We started each session in a big circle.  Fifteen pregnant women, with bellies of varying sizes, all sat semi-awkwardly on multi-colored yoga mats.  And one by one, we went round the circle and divulged just a little of what was on our minds.  At first, this sharing felt so weird…so unnatural…so exposing.  I didn’t know these women, we just happened to meet up each week to stretch our growing bodies side-by-side, in hopes of finding some much-talked-about balance for our rapidly changing realities.  Yet week after week, mom after mom would give her update.  Some short, some long.  Some that would bring the room to raucous laughter, some that would bring us all to heavy tears.

Meet Me Where I Am - Sleep

What do you need?”

These words echoed in my ears.

What did I need?  I had no response to offer…my exhausted brain had no words to answer that question.  I sat, cradling my baby girl in my arms, simply unable to articulate what I needed so very badly in that moment.

I have an answer now.

And maybe, just maybe, you can use this answer too…when you are faced with the question: what do you need?

I need you to meet me where I am.

Meet Me Where I Am – Breastfeeding

My breastfeeding journey has been one of many struggles.

In the early days of motherhood, I was engulfed in what can only be described as  Mommy Fog.

The blur of exhaustion…the shock of a traumatic birth…the all-encompassing blanket of love that I felt for my baby girl…they all worked together to create a web of foggy mist that I spent my days (and nights) floating through.

And through the mist, there was near-constant nursing.  And with every feed, there was pain.  You see, an undiagnosed tongue-tie and a traumatic birth played their parts in what was a very difficult beginning to our breastfeeding journey.

I remember so many people offering up ready-made advice.

Before I’d left the hospital, my consultant told me that my chances of breastfeeding were “slim”, due to the trauma I had faced.  You need some formula,” he told me.

When my daughter was a couple of days old, my midwife told me that “not all mothers can do it.  You need some formula,” she told me.

When my daughter was one week old, well-meaning friends and family saw my struggle and offered their solution: “You need some formula,” they told me.

When my daughter was two weeks old, my doctor told me that something “must be wrong” and to cut my losses.  You need some formula,” he told me.

When my daughter was three weeks old, my neighbour popped round to offer her slice of wisdom.  She delivered her own tale of painful breastfeeding, “I didn’t last a week”, she said.  You need some formula,” she told me.

More than this, the information leaflet that came through my door during these initial foggy days delivered the same message…breastfeeding is hard.  You need some formula,” it told me.

Yes, breastfeeding can be hard.  It was excruciatingly difficult for me.  But some things are worth the struggle.  And for me, breastfeeding is a shining example of A Thing That Is Worth The Struggle.

What did I really need?

I needed to hear those perfect four words that so many new moms sadly miss out on – you can do this.  I needed to be met me where I was.  You see, this is what I should have said…

Dear Consultant, I need you to meet me where I am.  The trauma I experienced has sent my body into shock and delayed my milk from coming in.  Your time would be better spent advising me on ways to heal physically and emotionally from the trauma that you recognize, instead of pushing me down a path that I do not wish to take.

Dear Midwife, I need you to meet me where I am.  While it is true that “not all mothers can breastfeed”, the vast majority can.  I need you to put me in touch with a lactation consultant who can work on looking into why I am experiencing so much pain, with a view of actually addressing it.

Dear friends and family, I need you to meet me where I am.  I know it hurts to see me hurting.  But if you can hold my hand and ride this wave with me, I will be forever grateful…instead of offering a quick-fix band-aid to stop this initial discomfort.

Dear Doctor, I need you to meet me where I am.  I need you to work out why breastfeeding hurts so much, as opposed to simply telling me to stop.  If breathing hurt, you wouldn’t tell me just to stop, would you?

Dear Neighbour, I need you to meet me where I am.  I hear you that your journey was hard.  I respect your choice to stop breastfeeding and now I need you to respect my choice to continue.

Dear Formula Company, I need you to…oh sod it, just quit mailing me – ok?

Quite simply, meet me where I am.

And I will do the same for you.  With no misconceptions or alternative motives…I offer out my hand for you to hold as you choose your own path on this road of motherhood.


Meet Me Where I Am: Follow along for the next post in this three-part series, which will focus on sleep.  You can read the first post here.


Thank you to mama Lauren for allowing me to feature her picture in this piece.  For more glimpses into real life breastfeeding, join the Mama Bean village on Facebook!

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Meet Me Where I Am

Mama, on the days that you find yourself struggling, I will be here.

I will sit beside you and hold your hand.

I will listen.  Truly listen.

I will not hurry away your sadness, or shame you for your real feelings.

I will support you.

Mama, on the days that you find yourself wanting, I will be here.

I will give to you time, patience and understanding.

I will offer you empathy.

I will not disregard your problems or place my own value judgements onto your situation.

I will support you.

My friend, motherhood is hard.

It is wonderfully, beautifully, inspiringly difficult.

It is simultaneously draining and uplifting.

It fills us with a sense of super-human super powers, alongside a crippling knowledge of our own mortality.

I understand.

I'm the Woman in the Green Shirt

It’s not often that a video making the rounds on Facebook brings tears to my eyes.  But the video posted by mom, Jessie Maher, of a man verbally assaulting her for breastfeeding her baby at Target has done just that.

The video shows the man angrily hurling insults at Jessie and asking for a refund for his food, due to having witnessed a mother breastfeeding her child in public:

Utterly ridiculous, right?

Yet my eyes didn’t fill up because of this insane and clearly bitterly-wounded man’s misguided and aggressive actions.

No, part of what moved me was knowing exactly how this mom was feeling in that moment.

In the video, we hear her commentate:

“Because I’m feeding my baby, this man is going crazy, and I’m shaking.”

Shaking.  This mother is shaking while she feeds her infant.  What world are we living in?  Has the past week not shown us clearly enough that there is far too much hate and not enough acceptance?

Why Moms Make Businesses Great

In another life, long long ago, I worked in finance.  I worked long hours in a white and blue high-rise, constricted in equal measures by my corporate suit and the anti-female atmosphere of the corporation.

I was a young woman, taking space in what was very clearly a man’s world.

Yet I had an advantage, apparently.  Because I was yet to bear a child.  So according to the Powers That Be, my effectiveness and efficiency at climbing my allocated professional ladder was not yet hindered by any offspring that would surely sap me of my professional abilities and aptitude.

Sound familiar?