‘A’ Breastfeeding Experience

Part of the Yes Bebe breast feeding series for World Breastfeeding Week 2018: <<read more>>

Breastfeeding in art
The Early Days. Raw and Untitled.

I sat for this painting within a month of my firstborn coming into my world. It remains untitled (21 months after conception) as I write.

The viewer may title it the following:

Breastfeeding.

A Mother’s Love.

Mother and child.

Intimacy.

Closeness.

Perfection.

But, honestly? It is hard to label. I can’t express easily, the emotion that lead up to this picture-perfect image. The final product looks like a dreamscape. The process behind it was definitely a journey and has provided me with deep-rooted memories. No wonder I find it difficult to give it a name to this day.

Hidden in the story of this painting is a new mother who desperately wanted to give her son a great start in life with that ‘liquid-gold’ as it is often called.

Sugar levels were low in the first few days of my baby’s life. Midwives insisted on a little extra help with formula milk before being discharged until the mother ship’s milk fully came through. The waiting game. The longest waiting game. At the time.

In the early days, the new mother gritted her teeth and took deep inhales of breath as the first suckles (I have no problem with this word, It’s just a word) were grabbing and sensitive. The feeds were endless and frequent – a strange combination. Tired. Exhausted. Fatigued. Fuelled with determination and routine. Let’s just call it stubbornness.

In public, she covered what was naturally given to her so onlookers wouldn’t be embarrassed (21 months later, there is no covering now. The world can stare, look, admire, wonder or be embarrassed).

At home, visitors talked, bustled and assumed status quo downstairs, whilst mother and baby were upstairs in a nursing chair. Two. Just us. Quiet. Still. Intimate. If I transport you a few months later, the chair is gone. Mother has learnt to nurse lying down, standing up and even multi-task feed. Still just two though, in our own little bubble.

“Wow! You’ve been breastfeeding for two months now?”

“You are such a natural.”

“Amazing. How do you do it? 6 months it has been hasn’t it?”

“8 Months?!”

“Nearly a year? Will you stop?”

“When will you wean?”

“1 year and a half ??”

“Are you going for the 2 year WHO recommendation?”

21 months (and not really counting) later, we are still breastfeeding. My boy has naturally weaned down to a morning and bedtime feed in the last few months. Some days I feel sad about this. Some days I am relieved. Will I carry on? I guess so. When will you stop? I honestly don’t know. Any advice? Just go with the flow. Have you got a title for this painting yet? Not sure. The Early Days? Raw? Untitled? The Early Days. Raw & Untitled it is for now I guess.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “‘A’ Breastfeeding Experience”

  1. First of all can I say I love this painting – I think I would call it mother feeding her first newborn. Who painted it? I breast fed all three of my children. First my twins, who were raised on a combination if breast milk and formula, like you there was a problem with blood sugar levels but also both twins were small and it was essential for me to know they were getting the correct amounts. Breastfeeding twins is a weird experience I honestly felt like a cow most of the time – and really couldn’t leave the house much as I was feeding both at the same time – around the clock for what seemed like 25 hours a day. I then had another girl 2 years later an also breast fed her and it was so much easier second time around and I was able to breast feed for longer. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. Thank you for sharing Ali. It is so interesting hearing about the experiences of others and their feeding journeys. Be it breast, tube, bottle, half-half etc. We all do the best we can at a sensitive and raw moment in our lives. And parents with more than one child seem to even have differing experiences too between each child. The artist is Chloe Trayhurn. It really was a great colab. I told her exactly what I wanted. I took the photos. Sketched the arrangement and chose the colour palette. At each step Chloe checked back with me. If you paint yourself it can be difficult to entrust such a special moment for others to depict but the trust was there and she really understood what I wanted. I’m so glad she said yes as I couldn’t work up the courage to paint myself, especially in the part-nude. I have her approval to share her website at https://www.chloetrayhurn.com/ x+x

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