A Story of Strength & Determination
Author: Juno Jack’s on behalf of Emily
Happy World Breastfeeding Week 2019!
Somehow it’s another WBW and we’re still on our breastfeeding journey, a journey that has so far been going continuously for 9 years and 9 months!
My first breastfeeding experience was a bit different, at 22 I was a single parent to my first baby, who was premature and had an undiagnosed full tongue tie (finally divided at his choice at the age of 16!). I was told he was failing to thrive and to give him formula. Because I didn’t believe that was the best answer that could be found, I hand expressed 8oz every day to top him up and continued breastfeeding until he was 18 months old, when I caved to the opinion of the health visitor that it was time to stop. I am so glad there is more awareness of tongue tie today, and that more babies have access to the simple procedure that would have made such a huge difference to my first breastfeeding relationship.
By the time I had my younger three sons, I was more confident in my choices, my second prem baby latched like a pro and continued feeding through my next pregnancy and managed 3.5 years of tandem feeding with his little brother before weaning at 5yrs4mos when I was pregnant again with my youngest. During the tandem years I worked full time (with my husband and biggest breastfeeding support bringing them to me for a lunchtime feed and feeding me sandwiches because I had no hands free!), had my second amputation and a couple of stump revision surgeries, became too sick to work and was eventually diagnosed with the autoimmune disease lupus. I had to navigate the need for lots of medications, including immunosuppressants and get advice on the lowest risk options.
I breastfed in countless hospital wards, on oxygen, with a central line in my chest, feeling like death and knowing that however bad I felt, one thing I could still offer my booblings was the security and comfort of a feed. My last pregnancy was confirmed at the same time as the lupus diagnosis, and I was still feeding my 3rd son. It was a high risk pregnancy, I spent a lot of it in hospital with pneumonia, sepsis and problems with my lungs and liver, but my 4th son hung in there and my milk continued to flow for my 3rd, who weaned at 4yrs3mos when his brother was born.
I am absolutely in awe of what my body is capable of!
I’ve been fortunate to have had good enough information and support wrapped around me to more than achieve my (originally modest!) breastfeeding goals. I certainly didn’t think I would be continuing for quite this long but there has never yet been a time when breastfeeding wasn’t meeting some really important needs for my booblings in the most simple way. Needs for nutrition, comfort, connection and more have been met consistently, regardless of the state of my health, and as I near the end of this monumental journey with my 3yrs9mos smallest, I am hugely grateful for the community of breastfeeding parents and supporters that has carried us so far. Keep on boobing!