There is a new craze doing the rounds at the moment – The Tree of Life Brelfie. For those of you who don’t know what a brelfie is, it is a breastfeeding selfie. These pictures use an app called PicsArt to superimpose a tree with roots onto a breastfeeding picture before using different art styles to add an effect to the picture.
They are incredible pictures to look at but I have to admit that I was dubious at first. I was worried that despite being visually stunning and despite being a symbol of a proud mother, they would soon just become the latest fuel on the fire of the whole breast vs formula feeding debate. Usually calm and centred women would once again become enraged because they perceived a beautiful picture to be slighting their choice of feeding. Now due to a number of issues I formula fed my children exclusively after the first few weeks and I was at times shamed for this. However, I really do not see the need for any such debate or ill feeling. Babies need to be fed and as long as they are fed then end of story!
I will happily say that I have so far been wrong in my prediction. All of the pictures that I have seen have been viewed as the beautiful, life affirming, proud mummy moments that they were meant to be. And so do you know what, I decided to do my own. Even though it didn’t work out for me, I did try. I am proud that I tried. I never got a picture of me feeding baby boy but I did get one of me feeding baby girl and so I am celebrating that fact! I am a proud mother!
Share your brelfies proudly ladies!
Attempting to breastfeed baby boy was one of the worst experiences of my life. I wrote a post about it early on in my blogging journey so I won’t go into detail but let’s just say that after my boobs being manhandled by more strangers than could ever be deemed necessary and still not getting the hang of it I threw in the towel. I felt like an absolute failure! It wasn’t until he was 12 months old that a health visitor asked me about his tongue tie. What tongue tie?! Apparently he has a fairly severe tongue tie and according to the specialist it’s no wonder we found breastfeeding so difficult.
With that in mind I was determined to get it right with baby girl. I read all of the information again and watched the videos. Having a c-section with an epidural this time instead of under general anesthetic meant that we could have skin to skin straight away and I was sure that it was going to work this time. However, over the few days that we were in hospital it was clear that we were having difficulty. I had exactly the same problems as with baby boy. She just wouldn’t latch and when she eventually did she either fell asleep straight away or came off after a few minutes and I had to start the whole process again. Knowing then about baby boy’s tongue tie, I asked for her to be checked. 3 different people checked her and they all said that she was fine. I was told by a midwife that I just had to learn how to latch her on myself. It wasn’t how it was supposed to go! I carried on trying once we got home but nothing worked. Baby girl was losing weight and I could feel myself going back to the dark place that trying to breastfeed baby boy took me to. There was no way I was going back there again so I stopped trying. I stopped trying to breastfeed and I gave my child formula. And guess what… I didn’t feel guilty!
However, formula feeding didn’t end the problems. Baby girl still had difficulty with a bottle. Milk would pour out of her mouth when feeding. I knew that there was something wrong. It was when she was about 5 weeks old that I started to notice that her tongue looked like baby boy’s did at the same age. If I hadn’t found out about his tongue tie I wouldn’t have thought anything of it but it got me wondering. I mentioned it to my midwife who agreed that it didn’t look quite right. She referred us to a tongue tie clinic and I’m so glad that she did. At the appointment the specialist said that she never seen a tongue tie as thick as baby girl’s and it was the most difficult one that she had ever had to snip. It was horrible watching my little girl go through such a traumatic experience but once it was done she calmed down quickly. She even took a bottle without milk pouring of her mouth. I am quite angry that despite 3 professionals checking my daughter for tongue tie it was me who found it. However, I’m glad that it has been sorted at an early age (if baby boy ever needs to have his snipped it will have to be done under general).
My breastfeeding journey was quite frankly rubbish! I regret not being stronger and maybe trying harder but ultimately I don’t regret the decisions that I made. My decisions took me out of a dark place and enabled me to focus on my family. They were the best decisions for us all. Some people look down on me for formula feeding. Some people think that I didn’t try hard enough. Some people think that I have let my children down by not breastfeeding. Well those people are one’s whose opinion I do not need! I did my best and I am doing my best and that’s all that matters.