Wednesday, 23 May 2012

For Una

A gorgeous little baby girl came into the world about two months ago.  Her mother is one of five members of a well-known girl band.  She is the Irish member, with gorgeous flowing red locks, fabulous skin and a figure perfectly befitting of a girl band member.  My heart goes out to her.  She has come in for a certain amount of flak of late due to her decision not to breastfeed her little girl.  She is the mother of a two month old child, living across in the UK thus away from her nuclear and extended Irish family, a regular face in the media due to her job, and back at work already.  Did I mention she is the mother of a two month old baby girl?  That is why my heart goes out to her. "The fact that I wasn't going to breastfeed her made me feel a bit of the blues. I would really love to, but because of work and everything I wasn't able to.” And "I just knew it wouldn't be practical to be performing on stage with big leaky boobs full of milk." she said.    And there you have it.  She would “really love to” feed and nourish her baby herself but work commitments made her decide otherwise.  In the event that a mother decides not to breastfeed her baby, for whatever reason, her body neither knows this nor does it care.  It just goes right on ahead and makes milk for the new arrival.  Milk will come in regardless.  I can remember sitting on the side of my bed, each and every time after four babies, feeling like my chests were about to explode when my milk came in. There is no way on this earth I could have entertained, even for one second, getting up on a stage and bouncing around to a backing track feeling like that.  Even after a missed feed, your body reminds you of that fact.  I bet given the chance, she would grab, with both hands, the opportunity to stay at home with her little girl over going back to work.  I bet if she felt she could be publicly honest about it, she would admit that is what she would prefer to do.  I have also seen photos of this new mother dressed in tight t-shits and wearing skinny jeans with not an ounce of extra flesh on her anywhere.  She is being congratulated and admired for this too.   More pressure.  Now, I’m guessing that she is in her 20’s, it is also her first baby and she most likely would have been very fit and healthy before and during her pregnancy so all of these factors help in shedding the baby weight.  But it’s still only two months after the birth.  There is a lot more going on with the post-partum mother other than a physical recovery.  Mental health is also an issue.  This lovely mother has already mentioned she suffered from the blues as a result of deciding not to breastfeed her baby.  Reading between the lines, she is not entirely happy with her decision but obviously felt this was the best option all round.  She has her band members to think of, she obviously doesn’t want to let them down.  I am sure she doesn’t want to leave the band herself, no doubt having invested a lot of her time and possibly made sacrifices to have achieved the status they are enjoying today.  Una, you deserve a big hug.  I hope that fianc√© of yours is looking after you and is aware of the expression “mothering the mother”.  I hope your band mates are supporting you in this your new and probably most important role of your life.  It will be hard for them to understand exactly what you are going through.  And it will be hard for you to have patience with them because of that. Trying to explain what parenthood is like to someone who doesn’t have kids is like trying to explain to a man what period cramps are like.  I hope you will not be too hard on yourself for making the decision not to breastfeed your baby this time.  I have no doubt in my mind that you will get that opportunity at a later stage.  It is just one of the many decisions you as a mother will have to make.  I commend you on being able to get up, get dressed and put on all that slap, to catch a flight and make all of those early morning breakfast show appearances for the banal entertainment of the rest of the country when you have left your sleeping baby in the care of another.  Chances are you didn’t even get a chance to say good morning.  Your band mates, I fear, have no idea how lucky they are.  And also how lucky you are to be a mother.        

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