Laila Safraz, Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK
Originally published June 2016
After a rough start with a baby that screamed for three hours every evening for the first three months of her life, a very sickly baby—she was my fourth and I had not been in this situation before—postpartum depression followed. Thankfully the depression was short lived. I had breastfed all of my other three children, so I knew how breastfeeding on demand worked. I hadn’t known before that it could feel like a chore.
We reached six months though and we found our groove. Breastfeeding became joyful. By ten months I felt confident in my mothering.
This evening I hold off giving another feed. She’s been all over me grabbing, feeding on and off, wanting to be in my face, on my skin. I decide it’s more play and put her down. I distract her with toys or pass her to my husband but she cries. I’m tired of baby gymnastics. My husband says she just needs milk. I say I’ve given her milk and she didn’t really want it. She can’t be hungry! Maybe she just needs it for this second, right now? Even though I have already held her for ages, milk will meet her need for now. Tiresome. I pick her up. She feeds for longer than last time. She is settled and happy and plays for another hour or so. That is the intense need.
It’s the love story of a baby and her milk. The need to have milk, meeting that need, her assertiveness to get access to the milk for as long as she needs it. My responsive body language reflecting hers.
The moment is a pause, a pause to remember what she feels like after a busy 30 minutes playing, to remember what her little nails look like and feel like as she grabs at me, looking into my face as we connect through my milk. The milk is our understanding. It is a real love for a baby, it’s her milk, it’s like music to the ears, a breath of fresh air, a sigh of relief.
She’s sleepy after feeding, the tea needs cooking. I put her in the sling on my back, the way I’d just learned from a mum at a La Leche League meeting. I whip something up for the family to eat with my baby nuzzled into my back.
I am superwoman again.