Usually, when I share a breastfeeding picture or article, there is a wave of support in response. There is a real sense of sisterhood and collective-nodding amongst a supportive breastfeeding community.
But occasionally, one of these articles will go viral and amid the wave of support and nodding comes The Backlash.
The Backlash brings comments that are often very difficult to understand (see here for examples), but even with this confusion, it's easy to translate the prevailing message that breastfeeding is something these people would rather not have on their radar.
(Note to participants of The Backlash: You may want to stop reading here.)
Recently, this one comment really stuck out for me:
"What? You think you're the only woman to breastfeed? Get over yourself -- you're not special!"
Here's the thing: For me, breastfeeding has become a part of my identity. It's an integral part of how I see myself, and, of course, it's also an integral part of how my daughter sees me. I think this portrait of Mama, which my daughter happily sketched when she was 2 years old, pretty much sums it up:
You see, where there is mommy, there are breasts. And where there are breasts, there is milk.
And I'm not alone -- there are countless numbers of women who feel empowered by this defining act.
Before my daughter was born, I never imagined that I'd be sharing the stories and images of mothers from across the globe in a bid to unite and empower others to trust their bodies and their babies. My lactation consultant didn't think I'd make it to a week... and here I am, three years in, writing about breast milk and spreading the word that this is normal.
Yes, I am special. Because this is my journey, and much the same as any journey of significance -- it defines me.
And sometimes on this journey, time moves quickly. Just as we've got the hang of babyhood, we're feeding walking, talking toddlers instead.
And sometimes on this journey, time moves slowly... particularly in the darkness that I once termed 'night'. Because at 3 a.m., this journey can feel like climbing a mountain... it can feel like our own Everest.
And still we climb, still we wake and still we feed.
So, a little word to The Backlash: Breastfeeding mothers are very likely to be proud of breastfeeding their children. They have worked for it and have earned that right.
Because here we stand -- at the top of our own Everest. We have faced the struggle and will not be shamed or belittled for experiencing the reward.
I breastfeed my daughter. Of course I'm special. Of course it defines me. And of course my portrait includes my breasts... although the fact that my tummy button looks more like a tummy crater is an entirely different post...
This post originally appeared on Mama Bean Parenting.