Of all the many beautiful aspects of motherhood, breastfeeding can be one of the most emotionally intense ones out there. It’s a full-body experience, replete with leaking nipples, cascading hormones, and crying babies. When it’s going well, you feel like a beautiful, life-giving goddess; and when it’s not, you feel like your world is collapsing, and that there might be something seriously wrong with you or your baby for not getting it right.
Joy Hwang, a California artist and mom, had her own share of struggles (and later, joy) when it came to breastfeeding her now toddler-aged daughter. As Hwang recently told The Huffington Post, she was having trouble producing enough milk when her daughter was first born. She tried everything to increase her supply — from eating her placenta to chugging lactation teas to pumping both day and night.
“One of the hardest assignments I received as a new mom was to keep my baby alive with my boobs [by breastfeeding],” Hwang told The Huffington Post. “I’ve always imagined it would come naturally and magically, but it was quite the opposite.”
Luckily, her efforts at bringing up her milk supply eventually paid off (she’s still nursing her daughter at 18 months), but she says it was both an exhausting and difficult experience. In order to process it all, Hwang began to chronicle her breastfeeding experiences through art. Under the handle Mom is Drawing, Hwang has been sharing intimate drawings of her breastfeeding journey on both Facebook and Instagram — and her sketches are currently taking the Internet by storm.
From images of Hwang falling asleep while pumping to getting kicked in the hip by her (very active) nursing toddler, the drawings are relatable, on so many levels. (Not to mention, pretty dang cute!) It’s no wonder moms can’t get enough of the lovely drawings.
Although the drawings have a playful and almost whimsical feel to them, each one is pretty evocative, and it’s this realness that seems to be connecting to so many moms, because it makes them feel less alone in their breastfeeding journeys. And that’s all by design.
“I want my drawings to reflect every mom’s journey as well as mine,” Hwang told Huffington Post. “My highest hope is to empower moms and challenge the taboo of breastfeeding and pumping in public and on social media, through sometimes silly or too-honest drawings. I want to open up these conversations and support one another.”
I can’t agree with this more — mothers absolutely need support, especially when it comes to breastfeeding, and the more moms who share their journeys, the more connected and normal we all feel. And whether we are artists or not, there are so many ways we can share our breastfeeding journeys; through photos, conversations, and just a smile or a thumbs up when we pass a nursing mom breastfeeding in public.
As a writer, I know firsthand how therapeutic self-expression can be. I have always written my way through breastfeeding and motherhood, and it has helped me process the difficult parts, and enjoy the beautiful parts in an even deeper way. Hwang’s drawings made me reflect on how very important it is for us all to have a venue for sharing and expressing our parenting experiences — whether it be breastfeeding, or any other aspect of parenting.