Mothering through domestic silence

In my new safer life, the hardest decision I have had to make so far was the early weaning of my 4-week old baby. Beaten and broken by breastfeeding and postnatal depression, I was dreading every feed and crying almost constantly. As I put my screaming baby to the breast (or the bottle) in the middle of the night, my overwhelmed mind tormented me with waking nightmares of starving children. Or it would think of a hundred different ways that this precious little baby could be hurt, and how defenceless it was. My nipples were cracked, bleeding and raw. One morning I awoke from a dream that I had a new baby to feed, and I was actually disappointed and anxious when I realised the dream was real.

I struggled for weeks with the decision to wean, and I was deeply disappointed and gutted with guilt that I couldn’t feed my child the way I felt I was supposed to. Like, I assume, so many good, socialised women before me, I felt a complete failure and fraud as a mother. I didn’t feel like a “real” mother. Not only was my body struggling to feed my child, it had also failed (in my eyes) to give birth to him, “slow progress in labour” resulting in an unplanned caesarean section.

There are, however, both advantages and disadvantages to having a caesarean. On the plus side, as a friend helpfully pointed out to a group of our friends over a drunken game of Cranium, my ‘vag is still intact’. I remind myself of this whenever I look in the mirror and am greeted by a scar that resembles the “swish” symbol of a certain running shoe.

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