Why do I do it? This is a question asked about parenthood in general, usually rhetorical and after an event involving bodily fluids at 3 o’clock in the morning. Sometimes it is asked after calls to the emergency services. But most people agree that while wanting to be a parent can be seen as a form of madness the good outweighs the bad.
If not asked outright, I do get some quizzical looks about breastfeeding, particularly now my son has reached his first birthday, long past the 6 months that people think is a lofty, hardly ever reached, goal. I mean we’ve heard ‘breast is best’ often enough to not question it, but formula is everywhere and normalised to a point that a bottle is the universal symbol for baby.
This when a blogger normally launches into a homily about the numerous health, developmental and social benefits of breastfeeding. I have done this myself in the past and will no doubt do so again in the future. But I wanted to turn this around for once and give a voice to the person who this is all about: my son. Now I wasn’t able to interview him formally and the quotes aren’t direct, because, well, he can’t form sentences yet. But I am fairly sure I don’t have to worry that his agent will call me about misrepresentation.
As well as a variety of vocalisations that are typical of his age he can say four clear words. Mama and Dada are probably universal, cat is because we have several (but stands in for anything furry at the moment) and booby. Booby was actually the third word he learned to say which indicates to me that it is VERY important to him.
What other clues do I get? There is a ‘the milk is coming’ giggle. When I put him on my lap, or he hears the clip of the nursing bra he chortles in anticipation. Sometimes he crawls across the room, pulls himself up standing and giggles to ask for a feed. It is perfectly clear he doesn’t think he is too old to be breastfed.
He will also stop mid-feed and smile at me, a little dribble of milk running down his chin. It is the smile that warms every part of my soul. I am making my son happy, filling him with my nutrition, and my love. Then his eyes grow heavy, his jaw stills and his breathing changes. My little darling, my reason for being, is content and asleep in my arms. Whether I am in the middle of a busy shopping centre, at a music festival, or in the quiet of a night feed with my husband snoring in the background, I am exactly where I want to be and doing what I was born to do.
By Gwen Atkinson