Breastfeeding is the most natural thing on earth and your body will know how to feed your baby, people said. That is true… but not for all of us. Nothing about it felt natural to me. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding though I did it for a combined total of eight months. Pain and guilt overshadowed those sporadic moments of contentment. I was sore everywhere and if anyone other than my babies touched my boobs, watch out for my Wolverine claws!
The guilt was the worst. I was wrecked with it for not being able to keep up with my babies’ appetites and supplementing with formula milk. I hated sneaking away from my office desk for my pumping schedule knowing people would immediately assume I was slacking. Going out was a chore – I ran out of
frumpy breastfeeding-friendly clothes pretty fast. Buy more? Damn it! One blouse was equivalent to the price of two big diaper packs! I’m not even going to start on the actual act of nursing in public which is a whole other plethora of complexities.
My body was swirling with a lethal cocktail of hormones and exhaustion. I was ashamed that I couldn’t gush about breastfeeding (and motherhood in general) like some of my other mommy-friends. While my babies thrived in every way, I was losing myself.
Don’t give up! Breastfeeding gets easier over time, people also said but I didn’t have the gumption to stick around and find out. There was more to motherhood than breastfeeding – this much I was certain of. Funny, I don’t feel as much guilt over weaning off early than I did about struggling to breastfeed. A psychologist might have plenty to say about that. All I know is, I became so much less of a psycho.
So I suppose it was an odd choice to spend a whole weekend at The Breastfeeding Advocates Network (TBAN) Gift of Love bazaar considering my experience with breastfeeding. Hey, just because I suck at sports doesn’t mean I don’t cheer my heart out for our Malaysian athletes, right? Same thing here. And if it wasn’t for this amazing group, I think I’d have given up on breastfeeding within a month. Oh by the way, when I say amazing I mean A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.
The bazaar itself featured a lot of homegrown brands but let me tell you, this wasn’t your run-of-a-mill kinda bazaar. Almost every booth was manned (oh, the irony) by a momma. As they engaged with customers and rocked lil’ babies to sleep in their baby carriers, there was no way I wasn’t infected by their energy. They and so many like them are the new generation of stay at home moms who are proving to the world that giving up your career for your family doesn’t mean giving up your dreams and your brains.
Surrounded by such inspiring women (and the men who have their backs), the hours I spent as a sales assistant for Shereena Gill’s Milk at 27 (cool non-aunty nursing wear designs, by the way) whizzed past unnoticed. It was interesting to be on the other side of the counter as a sales person and realize how diverse human behavior can be. Some know exactly what they want. Some are terribly indecisive. Others are easily persuaded to spend more by a good bargain. The rest just think you’re going to eat them when you smile and try to hand out a business card.
We clicked right away with Shai of Bonda by Shai at the booth behind us who designs elegant Muslimah nursing wear. During a lull in customers, we’d take turns to make circuits of the other booths to shop. I came away with a bunch of books from Little Bookworm, the cutest pasta I have ever seen by Foodies with Love and bag-fulls of freebies (who knew that lactation cookies could be so yummy eh?).
I’m so glad I put myself out there to try something new because it was just the distraction I needed after moving back from Japan. As for the friends I made over the two days, well, they’re a wonderful, unexpected bonus 🙂