The Badass Breastfeeder: What Women Gave Me
I spent a great deal of my early life dissing other women. I never had more than a couple of female friends. I would say things like “I don’t like women” or “women are too much drama.” My comments and behavior were likely rooted in my personal insecurities. I felt that relationships with other women were much harder work than with my male friends. I think now I felt insecure in my ability to work that hard or to be a truly good friend. If I didn’t like women, wasn’t that a sign I didn’t like myself? I thought I was different, better, more like a man. Society does value men over women after all. I played into this when it came to my own self-image.
When my first son was born in 2011 I had a few female friends. None of them had children and our lives began to take different paths. I had a terrible time getting started with breastfeeding. I had been given misinformation from the get-go and every day I thought I would have to throw in the towel.
My transition into motherhood was a dark and emotional time. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I had no one to turn to.
I went online and started joining support groups. Suddenly there were women as far as the eye could see. There were no men anywhere except for the one in my kitchen digging himself out of a pile of dishes and dirty diapers. That man certainly had no idea what to do about my breastfeeding struggles. I experimented with posting questions online and getting advice from women I didn’t know. They came in droves to give support and tips to help me deal with my current situation. Looking back some of it was good advice and some bad, but it was all given with good intentions. These women, most of whom had children older than my newborn, knew something that I didn’t know yet. That it was women who were going to make me a mother.
It was women who helped me through those early breastfeeding struggles. They gave me the information that I needed to establish the breastfeeding relationship that I wanted with my son. They guided me through the maze of confusing and overwhelming information, emotions and changes. It was women who gave me breastfeeding.
It was women who nodded their heads and gave me a gentle nudge when I began to identify with a parenting style that was not commonly practiced by mainstream America. These women validated my discomfort with advice I was getting about how to help my child sleep, eat and grow. Women gave me the power and strength to work through those growing pains as a parent rather than ignore my instincts. It was women who gave my son the mother he has.
When I became pregnant with my second son it was women who convinced me of the power of my own body. These women helped me sort through my fears and see clearly that I was born to breastfeed and birth babies. They stood around me smiling while I writhed like an animal to meet my second son. It was women who rebirthed me the day my second son was born.
It was women who never left my side when I made mistake after mistake, when I cried and when I tried again only to fail again. Women granted me the permission to walk away from the person I used to be, get lost in a new world of parenting and emerge fiercer, stronger, smarter and more compassionate.
Women are here for me every day to share in my growth as a mother, watch my sons grow up and listen to me vent. It’s women that I meet up with at the park, smile to on the street and invite over for special occasions.
Women have become my biggest supporters. Women have become my closest friends. I no longer see women as a burden or dramatic. I am no longer scared to put forth the effort to be a good friend because these very women have helped me heal from those insecurities that held me back.
When I look around at what my life has become all I see are women. I see myself in them and they see themselves in me. We are one. There is really nothing that matters outside of the love that we have for each other. The mistakes we make, the bad days we have, the hurt feelings that we cause; it’s all just dust to be wiped away so that we can see how brightly we really shine. When we stand united there is no force greater than us, there is no task we cannot accomplish. We can change the world in astounding ways.
I have spent much of my life separating myself from women. I thought this would somehow make me an individual, somehow make me unique and safe. And in the end (beginning?) it was women that saved me. They showed me who I am, what I am capable of. They showed me I am just like them. I love men, but I no longer value them over women. I no longer want to emulate them. I am a woman.
Together we stand, divided we fall.
Abby Theuring, MSW
Many thanks to Abby and her submission in support of Daily Mom’s Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign. You can find out more about Abby, the Badass Breastfeeder, by checking out her blog: www.thebadassbreastfeeder.com
Looking for Un-Nursing Wear?
If you need to add some nursing clothing to your wardrobe, but don’t want to spend money on pieces you’ll only wear for a short period of time, then head on over to Melody Lane for the best in regular clothing that is versatile enough to wear before, during, and after breastfeeding! They offer trendy, classic, and comfortable clothing that is hand-picked for all the life stages women usually experience. With nothing over $100, always free shipping, and new styles featured every season, Melody Lane makes sure your “fashion meets life”.
Photo Credits: Abby Theuring, www.thebadassbreastfeeder.com
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Katherine lives in Kansas City with her husband, toddler, and 3 furry children. When she is not at home with her daughter, she is finishing up her Ph.D. in psychology or working on one of her multiple half-finished art projects. She loves ceramics, crafts, fitness, paper mache, and pretending to learn French and Spanish.