After 1000 breastfeeds in a row, I needed a friend to save my sanity #friendship

woman holding baby looking shocked

This is actually me with my first baby, but it seems hilariously apt

A post from our Project Manager @rosiehopes

When my second daughter was four months old, I was at breaking point.

I’d breastfed her every two or three hours for four months; that’s over 1000 feeds without a break. I’d had enough. I didn’t want to stop, I just wanted her to have an occasional feed from someone else. Of course, if there’s nothing else on offer, any baby will take a bottle. But I couldn’t make it happen. It was just too hard for me, as a parent, to do.

My stepmum stepped in and saved me. After an impressive show of willpower on both sides, baby submitted and Granny emerged victorious. It sounds like a small thing, but she genuinely saved my sanity, enabled me to go back to work, to leave the baby so I could go to counselling, even to enjoy an occasional night out.

I’m not interested in whether people think that’s good parenting. I have a hundred reasons to think I’m a bad mum and that’s not one of them. It allowed me to get back to taking joy from time with my baby and properly bonding with her.

My stepmum saw that it was more than I could handle and she carried that weight for me. It was a real act of friendship and I’ll always be indebted to her for that.

A chance to pay it forward

About a year later, my friend was in a similar situation.

We’d been friends for a few years, but always more drinking buddies than bosom buddies. It was heartbreaking to see her at her lowest.

So I offered to get the baby on the bottle. It was an amazing feeling when she guzzled those first few ounces. It was something real and practical that I could do for my friend. And it showed me that I wasn’t useless because I couldn’t do it for my own baby. Sharing that experience has definitely made us closer. And who knows, maybe my pal will go on to do the same for someone else.

I want to be clear that I’m not evangelising about bottle feeding; both babies went on to be breastfed well beyond their first birthdays. It’s about sharing the practical and emotional burden, when it’s too much for one person to take.

For me, that’s the real value of friendship. It’s knowing that someone will be there for me if I can’t cope, but it’s also knowing that I have something to offer when someone else needs me. It’s not always a simple, two-way thing. It’s being part of a network, where we all look out for each other.

We’re blogging about friendship and mental wellbeing this month. To share your story, tweet @mindwaves1 or contact us to discuss your idea.


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10 Responses to After 1000 breastfeeds in a row, I needed a friend to save my sanity #friendship

  1. Greg Usrey August 26, 2016 at 9:23 am #

    Rosie – what a lovely post! thanks for sharing. I did enjoy the (?unintended?) ‘pun’ about breastfeeding and bosom buddies?

    See you soon,

  2. rosie August 26, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

    Hahaha, thanks. I didn’t intend, but did notice the pun and thought I’d leave it there as it made me giggle.

  3. Lee Dennis August 26, 2016 at 6:01 pm #

    The relentless nature of being ever-available for your infant can leave the best of us she’ll-shocked, tearful and anxious. With my second daughter, she refused to take a bottle – of any description, and ever more fanciful ‘solutions’ were tried, at no small expense. For the first year or so of her life, she demanded to be fed every 45 minutes or so. I drove myself insane keeping detailed feeding logs and spent many nights, delirious with fatigue, staring into the twilight with my mewling, adored daughter. It’s relentless, and no mother needs to be told she’s failing in some way for wanting to amend this very important job so that the responsibility can be shared. Humans are social animals; sharing the load is what we do. If more mothers were told the simple message that their love and their efforts WILL be the best and most correct things for their babies- however they approach it – I think we’d go a long way to relieving so many women of unfair guilt and doubt.

    • editor August 29, 2016 at 8:33 am #

      Thanks- I love this: “humans are social animals: sharing the load is what we do”. I think that could be a tagline for Mind Waves!

    • editor August 29, 2016 at 8:34 am #

      Thanks- I love this: “humans are social animals; sharing the load is what we do”. I think that could be a tagline for Mind Waves!

  4. Lee Dennis August 26, 2016 at 6:02 pm #

    *shell-shocked, oops

  5. Kelly September 1, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

    I went through the same thing with my youngest it took me 11 months to try and get her on a bottle with help from my partner

  6. Hannah Dalgety September 2, 2016 at 11:23 am #

    Lovely writing Rosie and I absolutely share your sentiments that we should be sticking together as mothers and friends, helping each other to share the load and the huge responsibility that is bringing up our precious children.

    I think that what can really help us as mothers is when people stick by us through the tough times, telling us we are strong and recognising when we are doing a great job, (though we may not feel it!) bringing us food, drinks, cake, caring for us so we have the strength to care for our own babies. Building up our confidence in all the infinite ‘little things’ we do as so naturally as mothers.

    We are all different and what works for us will not work for everyone, however one thing we can all do is support each other in the decisions we make and try every day to recognise each other’s incredible strength and unique job as mothers. We need to feel we can and will cope with what life throws at us because we are the perfect mothers for our babies and that is what we are made to do! Super strong mamas!

    • editor September 7, 2016 at 9:59 am #

      Thanks Hannah. Absolutely, there are so many ways that we can support each other and as you say, what works for one person would be wrong for another. Asking what someone wants is a really good start. It’s simple, but amazing how often we forget to ask.

      • Lee Dennis September 8, 2016 at 9:13 am #

        This. Widening the circle to include health visitors, I’ve had some very negative experiences with the same. Some were clearly intent on pushing an agenda (crying it out, for example) even when the feedback they were receiving was unenthusiastic.

        If we asked mothers – both professionally and personally – what they wanted out of motherhood, how they wished to represent themselves to their children, what felt intuitive to them, we’d go a long way to empowering women with the confidence to trust their instincts. As Hannah Dalgety said, what works for us will not work for everyone.

        Great comments, I’ve really enjoyed this post as it’s an issue close to my heart.

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