This is how I learned that most new mothers feel lost and insecure, and how hard is to step a little bit away from our problems and see a bigger picture. I had to understand that breastfeeding is very important but it does not happen every time and it is not my fault. Not my fault. Healing from this experience was a very long process and I struggled to give up breastfeeding for months. I literally had no more milk, I still offered my breast and my son was upset every time I did.
My battles to feed him breastmilk did not seem to affect him, though. I responded to his needs, I comforted him and our relationship was stronger than I could ever expect or imagine. It took me way too long to understand that we are attached to each other regardless of my parenting style. We communicated without words and our bond just became stronger with time.
Today I am sorry that I missed so many important moments in happy free play with him because I felt so sad about my so called failures. Others, including health professionals, family members, friends, made me feel and believe that I do not know my child and I do not know how to parent him well. What is more, many people think that I do not do enough. This baby of mine turned out to be a highly sensitive, bright child and most things he did as a baby finally made sense only when he was already 2 or 3 years old. Now, I am so happy and proud of myself that I did not listen to those people who said I am wrong. I just followed my baby and I was right.
I asked him today why he loves my cuddles so much and he said it is because my touch heals everything and comforts him whatever happens.
I was so silly to believe that the way how I feed my child matters and makes a difference to our bond. How could I believe that only breastfeeding could give us special cuddle time and nurture our relationship? I had to see ourselves from a different perspective to realise that how I parent my child has not much to do with the tools I use along the way.
This boy lived his first 2 years and had all his naps in a sling. And then he became so independent, strong and confident. He still needs mummy cuddles, of course, he still wants to connect with me, but our bond is different now. We often connect through words and our conversations reflect how much we value and love each other.
Then my second baby boy was born and I started afresh, I promised that I would do even more to be a successful breastfeeding mother. This time I will not fail, I thought. When the tongue tie was diagnosed again, I had to act quick. I tried hard but he could not learn how to use his tongue and after weeks of struggling and being stressed and crying every night, I decided to give up. My older son could not accept me feeding the baby and I had no help around the children apart from the few hours my husband spent with us after work and at the weekends.
This time I chose to keep my sanity, our balanced life and loving hearts instead of the terrible fights with the eldest and the bleeding nipples that could never heal.
I love my children.
I have never loved anyone so much and my love for them is growing every day. I respect them and I believe they are wonderful, great people.
And they need a mother who is capable, who is there for them. A mother who can offer the healing cuddle and someone who is there to be their rock.
I keep my babies close and I respect and accept them. I love them for who they are and I only want to be there, hold their hands when they need it but I would never want to change them. Our relationship is the most important thing for me as a mother as I understand how this will slowly become the basis of many other choices and new relationships in their lives.
I do not think that the way how we are attached to each other would have changed if I could have exclusively breastfeed them. I cannot know. Just like a breastfeeding mother would never know if bottle feeding would change their nurturing moments. It would be waste of time to keep thinking about the “what-if” because my children are only little for a short period of time and it will be gone so quickly. I would rather enjoy the today and dream the tomorrow while I love my boys more and more.
Written by Mariann Hornyak
You can read more from Mariann at her ‘Raising Humans‘ blog