there’s always one.

today, i was spacing out and thinking about my mother’s group back in the days when beatrix was just a wee one, and remembering this particular incident where, when the group was still organized by my suburb’s local council, they had arranged for a woman from some lactation clinic to come talk to all the new mums about feeding the bubs. so this chick who was about… say — 150 years old — comes into the room, 20 minutes late, unpacks her shit hideously slowly and then asks loudly,
“how many of you are breastfeeding?”
and about 5 of the 9 women’s hands go up, and this tortoise of a woman remarks;
“good on you, that’s excellent. really well done.”

….and while i agree with her that these women had done a good job, i couldn’t help but think what an insensitive asshole statement that is to make to a bunch of new mothers who are feeling very unsure of themselves. breastfeeding is a horrible grueling experience for some women, and there’s a huge amount of pressure for women to breastfeed to be considered a successful mother. nobody tells you that its something you need to practise, that it’s fairly difficult at first and that there’s a whole load of methods for doing it — it’s just assumed that your baby pops out and goes straight onto your nipple, no worries.
the 4 of us in that room who didn’t put our hands up were probably feeling pretty shitty and pathetic at that stage, and this woman did nothing to say “hey, it’s okay, it’s a tough job.” one woman in my group had a baby with a cleft palette who couldn’t latch on properly, so she had no choice but to bottle feed. another woman had a baby with reflux, and another, like me, had just found the entire experience too hard and therefore not worth while killing herself over just to be “perfect”.

i struggled with feeding beatrix for 3 weeks, and they were the worst 3 weeks of my life. i’m a double D cup usually, so while i was breastfeeding i had progressed to the elephantastic size of an F, and this made breastfeeding into an experience where i would suffocate beatrix everytime i tried to feed her regardless of the position i held her in. i had horrible pains constantly and was on the verge of mastitis at least 3 or 4 times, bea would fall asleep mid-suckle and refused to latch on properly, and my nipples were bleeding and chewed to shit. one night, at 4 A.M after 3 weeks of struggling (and finally not being physically able to feed any further because of the horrible pains) i made my father drive around the city looking for a 24 hr chemist to buy formula. it was a really hard decision to make, because while i was relieved that the ordeal was over, i felt like i had not lived up to my motherly duty.

there’re too many things expected of women that shouldn’t be.
you need to have a man to have a baby.
you need to have a successful job and a fantastic living situation and be 27.5 years old before bringing a life into this world.
i mean, yeah, those things would be nice if we could all get them, and ideally, most women want stable stepping stones in their lives before bringing a child into the world. but fuck, life isn’t a fairytale, and it’s really sad how many women are treated like shit because they had a baby between boyfriends, or they don’t have a fantastic income, or their husband cheated on them while they were pregnant, or they’re too young by society’s standards. i get so many greasy looks when i walk around with my daughter because i’m 21 years old, have a shaved head and no man with me. well, fuuuuck that.

people should recognize that women who raise children without all these perfect things aren’t failures, they’re fucking amazing success stories, and deserve some recognition.

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