When I was 18 years old, a sophomore in college when I found out that I was pregnant with my son Jaylen.
As any first time expectant mom, I was nervous, excited, and turned to google for everything. The one thing I hadn't worried about was breastfeeding. In my mind, I was just going to breastfeed and didn't expect the journey I faced in breastfeeding my son.
9 long months passed by and I was greeted by the sweetest little boy I had ever laid eyes on, Jaylen Jesse Taylor.
Jaylen was 10 lbs, 4.9 ounces of sweetness and I quickly fell in love with him.
Following an emergent c-section due to the presence of meconium, I was faced with the challenge of our first feeding. I was nervous and shaky but I (with the help of a nearby nurse), latched Jaylen on and watched as he worked to remove the milk from my breast. That latch turned into frustration as he and I struggled to find the way for him to be able to comfortably and effectively breastfeed.
I was heartbroken, my heart raced and I said to myself...
"What if I can't do this ?" - The doubt that set in was excruciating and I was scared because it donned on me, that I and I alone had to feed this baby.
I'd love to tell you a fairytale but the truth is breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I ever have had to do.
- 2 weeks for full milk arrival
- 3 months until baby completely latched on
- 9 months in a supply dip that took weeks to replenish with the return of my menstrual cycle
- Pumping, Lanolin, Cracked Nipples, Leaks, Engorgement, and more pumping.
- Cutting out dairy, meat, and most things that I loved to eat lol.
It was hard WORK! Alot of sweat and tears... spilled milk and more tears.
But this work doesn't begin to touch the joy I felt when breastfeeding or the bond it's created with my child.
- the snuggles
- the laughs
- the growth (physical and mental, all because of something I created!)
- the comfort (the bond between my son and I is something that I attribute so much to breastfeeding, especially after my battle with postpartum depression.)
-the body awareness (Jaylen knows all about female anatomy and associates the breast and breastfeeding as normal. This education and awareness of female anatomy early on are some of the biggest gifts I can give my child.)
Being black and breastfeeding is one of the biggest gifts I can give my children. They are being raised with the knowledge and awareness of the body, being given milk made just for them, and it sparks a conversation that is priceless for our community.
- Being black and breastfeeding empowers other mothers.
- Being black and breastfeeding is a model to my children who may, in turn, breastfeed as well.
- Being black and breastfeeding created 18 months of memories with my son.
- Being black and breastfeeding is beautiful.
- Being black and breastfeeding SAVES LIVES.
- Being black and breastfeeding is normal.
- Being black and breastfeeding is worthy of celebration.
- Being black and breastfeeding is worthy of commemoration.
- Being black and breastfeeding was an 18-month journey that I will cherish for years to come.
On this 5th Black Breastfeeding Week, I want to say to anyone who has breastfed (whether 4 days or 4 years), is breastfeeding, wishes to breastfeed, or anyone who even encourages another to do so THANK YOU.
This week is for you.
This celebration is for you.
The journey is not an easy one but YOU did it and YOU deserve the celebration.