Tuesday, 21 September 2010

An Achievement (Of Sorts)

The health visitor laughs in disbelief every time my baby sits his little naked bottom on the scales and the numbers shoot up beyond the realms of expectation.

"Golly," she says as she makes a mark somewhere in the white space above the growth chart, "Well done you!"

I squirm silently at the praise and wonder how I can possibly presume to take credit for the robust good health of my boy.

It wasn't through choice that I had a large baby, it wasn't with grace that I birthed him, it wasn't through skill that he latched on and it wasn't with effort that he grew.

I'm privileged rather than proud to have breastfed him for the first six months of his life and I feel blessed rather than boastful at his growth.

Nevertheless, as his six month anniversary rolls in and I begin to nourish him with sustenance from outside my own body, I can't help toying with a feeling of pride.

Because growing this bouncing 22lb boy has been hard work at times and there are achievements worth celebrating along the way: I did keep going when nursing him made me cry out in pain and sob silently as he sucked, I do still get up four times a night to nurse him back to sleep, I haven't ever spent more than two hours away from him in his life and I have had to flash my breasts at strangers whilst feeding him in public.

And whilst these trials might be negligible compared with the awesome privilege of nourishing and nurturing my baby skin to skin, they mean that I can feel a flush of fulfillment when I see him rolling naked on the bed and can allow myself a secret smile when mothers marvel at my huge and healthy boy (who's now the size of an average one-year-old) and suggest that he ought to be a poster-boy for the 'breast is best' campaign.

Feeding my babe might not be an outstanding accomplishment or work of creative genius and it might not win me prizes or earn me cash and acclaim, but it's what I spend my days and nights doing at the moment, and at the end of the long and thankless day it's an achievement (of sorts).


  1. As the mum of two large (well over 10lb each at birth) babies, I salute you. I am sure you had all the same "well, you'll never be able to feed such a big baby yourself, you'll have to give formula" comments as I did, and it sounds like you have the same dogged determination to prove them wrong through all the painful and exhausting times. Good for you - and it most certainly is an achievement to be proud of.

  2. thank you! yes, that sounds very familiar, along with lots of pressure to get him on solids almost straight away. It's such a relief to see him happy and healthy and to know that I've done the right thing.

  3. Good for you! Breastfeeding is SO much better. I've had three big strong boys grow up that way...and a girl. And always, even all through their school years, I often wonder what I do with my life and then notice how they've grown. Evidence that I've been cooking, and washing, and tending their health every day! My first boy is now taller than I am, which is a very new experience for me!