On difficult days her breastfeeding advice has reminded me that comparison is the thief of joy and that there is nothing wrong with me or my baby.
I wasn't looking for breastfeeding advice on this particular day. I was visiting my GP for a routine prenatal check-up and the topic happened to come up. I think my GP asked how things were going in terms of getting organized and I mentioned needing very little in the feeding department because I would be breastfeeding. What she replied ended up having a profound affect on me though.
I had breastfed my first baby until he was about two years old so I felt quite prepared for a new breastfeeding journey. Surely we had encountered the various different issues, ups and downs first time round? My GP turned to me and said ;
I really appreciated her taking the time to pass on those words of wisdom but if I'm completely honest I didn't really expect them to apply to me. For whatever reason I just felt quietly confident that everything was going to be straight forward. I had been there before and most importantly I really really wanted to breastfeed. I was looking forward to it.
When my daughter came in to this world in May she couldn't have been any more different to her brother. I am learning that five years is enough time to forget a lot of things about raising a baby but she is incredibly different. It all started with her entrance. Her brother was ten days late and and I needed the help of a forceps, episiotomy and epidural. My daughter, a bit like myself, wanted to make a grand entrance. She was an unplanned home-birth and we are still wrapping our heads around that one.
Our breastfeeding journey got off to a really funny start this time round. Due to the nature of her birth I actually completely forgot to feed her for the first hour. This makes me laugh now because I had spent so long dreaming about that first feed. I imaged her rooting and doing the breast crawl within her first couple of minutes of life. In the end I had to be reminded. She slept on my chest for the duration of the ambulance journey from my home to the hospital (for an unplanned homebirth you have to go to hospital for thirty six hours of observation) and when we arrived at the hospital they started talking about delivering the placenta. The midwife asked did I feel any cramps when I first fed her and in that moment it dawned on me that I simply hadn't. I latched her on immediately (and FYI, the placenta came seconds later).
Pretty much everything about our breastfeeding journey has been different ever since. I cannot compare it to her brother because they are worlds apart. We've had tongue tie, painful blocked ducts and a baby who demands that I feed her while standing up - just to name a few of her "quirks". She's a quick feeder our Willow, and it took her a long time to want to feed lying down in the bed (come on daughter, that is the best thing about breastfeeding).
My daughter is six months old now and has recently started solids. When I look back on the last six months of this breastfeeding journey I realize that the advice my GP gave was really crucial for me. I struggled with how different this journey was. I struggled with the lack of control and how so much of it was steeped in the unknown. I didn't expect to have to google, consult and research so much about a topic that I felt I understood deeply. She was right - a different baby means a different breastfeeding journey. Those words have become my mantra. On difficult days her breastfeeding advice has reminded me that comparison is the thief of joy and that there is nothing wrong with me or my baby.
For all of their differences there is one thing that both of my children have in common and that is their tendency to feed a lot at night. I remind myself that the days are long, the years are short and I am exactly where I am supposed to be.