I began writing about my breastfeeding journey in February 2020. That year marked the start of this blog and the third year of my journey. I recall laughing throughout the years because there was no way I could have predicted that I would last beyond six months given our challenges. My body is amazing and I am forever grateful that it allowed me five and a half years of nurturing my daughter.
The start of our journey (2017) had its issues. I had a traumatic birth, a premature baby with a low birth weight, a low milk supply and latch difficulties. I remember the emotional toll during the first few months despite being fully prepared for the journey. Preparation was an understatement because I read books and researched online yet nothing could prepare me for our particular challenges. I felt like I had failed my daughter because our experience differed from all that I had prepared for. I recall the sleep deprivation of having to pump around the clock so that she could have expressed milk (recall that she could not latch). I was the food supply and my baby was solely dependent on me to figure it out. Those around me questioned my dedication and could not fathom why I hadn’t given up. My journey was far from what I thought I was signing up for but somehow we kept on going.
Recently I had the pleasure of being a guest on the SPILLED MILK PODCAST for season two! This podcast is hosted by my good friend, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Mrs. Kendra Shelby. She is doing phenomenal (and I mean phenomenal) work in Chicagoland to support women and families through pregnancy and postpartum. Click HERE to learn more about her work!
I have spoken about my journey throughout this space and getting to year five is monumental. I wrote about it last month (click HERE) and provided several links to the science which supports my rationale to keep on keepin’ on! This podcast is the perfect compliment because Kendra asks the pressing questions that everyone wants to know. Was the journey always easy? Why keep going? What do others think? Is it uncomfortable? What does it look like at age five? Does your child lift up your clothes in public to nurse? We talk about it and then some! Listen to our conversation below to get a better understanding about what breastfeeding entails at age five!
Several months have passed and I last checked in during the holiday season. Happy New Year! Happy Black History Month! Happy Women’s History Month! Daylight Savings Time is here and today is 313 Day (shout out to Detroit). It was 70 degrees in Chicagoland eight days ago (sadly it snowed two days later) which lets me know that Spring is slowly approaching. I took a brief hiatus from writing and so much has happened since December. In my time away my blog turned two and my baby had a birthday. I am now the proud mommy of a five year old; a five year old that breastfeeds! We are still going and there is no immediate need to stop now.
I am eagerly anticipating the countdown to January 25, 2022! On that day I will officially have a five year old! I am a mixed bag of emotions because the day also marks my fifth straight year of breastfeeding. It feels like she was just born and we were struggling to find our breastfeeding rhythm (we had our share of challenges). The calendar says five years but somehow time has paused. My internal clock tells me that we were discharged from the hospital yesterday, however, reality says that I am five years into my motherhood journey. I am excited to report that our breastfeeding challenges no longer exist! My baby and I are truly in sync with no end in sight if she has her way! Stay tuned.
Here are a few of my takeaways. Enjoy and share with a friend! 💙
I look forward to this week annually because it is a week to salute Black Breast/Chestfeeding parents. I always eagerly anticipate the unveiling of the theme in the weeks leading up to August 25th. The 2021 theme, The Big Pause: Collective Rest for Collective Power, honors Black Breastfeeding and the power of rest as a revolution for our communities (refer to photo). The theme is fitting for the steps required to restore our minds, bodies and communities as we continue to provide nourishment to our little ones.
Last year we were in a different space and the call to action was to revive, restore and reclaim our breastfeeding experiences. I wrote about it extensively here. An entire year has passed, yet systems and outcomes for Black parents and infants remain the same. Black Breastfeeding Week is still needed because racial disparities in breastfeeding rates have yet to be eradicated. We are also still in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic which adds additional complexity to an already complicated dynamic. Two factors—the current reality and our collective need for rest—can exist simultaneously because the work can be exhausting. We are tired!
This week marks Black Breastfeeding Week! Revive. Restore. Reclaim! is the theme for 2020. In my June “Breathe, Thrive and Grow” post I wrote that I planned to tackle the systemic racism and implicit bias connected to Black breast / chestfeeding parents during my Black Breastfeeding Week post. As I began writing I decided that this post would take a different turn because I do not have the mental capacity to discuss systemic racism. Instead I want to detail my personal thoughts on the 2020 theme and ways that each word can be put into action.