Monday, August 8, 2011

Nursing Mama Musings

No, I'm not nursing right now.  I *wish* I was!  I miss it like crazy.  I thought I would share my thoughts on breastfeeding and my personal experience, in honor of Breastfeeding Week.

 ^ Me nursing baby Butterbean
When I was pregnant with Mooch, I knew I would always nurse my kids.  My Mom nursed all 3 of us (I nursed until I was 2 1/2)  We all know the health benefits, and the pregnancy weight will just slide right off you blah blah blah.  And it will be easy, right?  I mean, women have been doing this for thousands of years without nursing classes!  It will be so natural!
So after 13 hours of labor, out came this little scrunched-up squalling person who looked up at me and howled.  Honestly my first thought was - don't judge me kid, you don't even know me!  And I'll do this breastfeeding thing for you!
They wrapped her up and handed her to me, and I pulled down the front of my lurvely hospital-issue gown and she kid of latched on, for maybe a minute, then fell asleep.  The nurse assured me that this was normal, she was tired, and she would eat when she was hungry.  Good enough for me, you can all clear out of my room now cause Mama is TIRED and also requires a nap.
They get me settled into my room and Mister leaves to go home and shower (selfish jerk), nurse leaves to go help birth another baby (bitch) and my mom and sisters do too (seriously?!?! Don't leave me alone with this thing, I don't know what to do with it!)
And just like that, baby wakes up and howls.  That little hungry howl.  
Now here's the problem - my left nipple was inverted.  This happened around month 8 of pregnancy, when all the freaky Animal Planet shit is going on with your body, so I didn't even pay any attention.  My boobs had reached porn star (of the fetish variety, even) proportions - I figured when they went down to normal all would be good.  
But here's this baby that wants to be fed, and she can't exactly latch onto nothing.
So I buzz for the lactation consultant - and then buzz again, and again.  3 times before she bothers to show up, then she shows me how to extract the nipple with the breast pump.  Cool beans!  We're good to go, let's nurse!  
What the consultant failed to tell me was when my milk came in, that nipple would go right back in.
Pump again?  Nope.  No dice.
Massage?  Mister is very much hoping that this is the solution.  But does not help.
Warm compresses?  No.
So I do what any mother would do, and call a friend in tears.  A friend who has had her own baby less than a month ago, but is one of those annoying people who is always calm and peaceful and zen and you could hate them but they also happen to be really likable.
She comes over and hands me this thing - a nipple shield.  It has little holes in the end that provide gentle suction and will pull the nipple back out.  It worked beautifully.  I offered Zen Friend a car.
Cut to 6 weeks - yes, just 6 weeks later - I had to go back to work.  I had just started a new job when I found out I was pregnant, so I got no paid maternity leave.  I packed up my breast pump and kissed Mooch's little head and cried all the way to work.  I worked at the Restaurant From Hell as an administrative assistant, and the only place to pump was an office that a lot of people has access to.  So every time I got to pump I narrate exactly where I'm going ("Going to the back office to PUMP!!  To pump BREASTMILK!  For maybe the next 20 minutes, I will be IN THE OFFICE!")  Not exactly relaxing, and we do have to supplement a bit with soy formula, but I manage to nurse Mooch for 18 solid months.  And love it all the way.

Butterbean - 2nd baby, no problem, right??  At first, no.  I actually got pats on the back from my pediatrician and the nurses for how well she was feeding - so much so that she gained a pound in a week.  Nursing superstar!!
This time around I was at the University and had 12 weeks off, paid, for leave.  Woot!  I pumped like crazy and stocked the fridge.  And she nurses on me the minute I walk in the door until she goes to sleep, plus many nursing sessions during the night.  And then at 8 months, I go to nurse her, and she turns her head away from the breast.  And no amount of coaxing can convince her to go back on.  So Mama still pumps for another month and she gets the milk via bottle, but Butterbean The Persnickety has made her position known - the more you want me to do it, the more I will refuse.

So there you have it.  I wasn't kidding when I said I miss it.  There is no feeling like it in the world, that you are doing something for your baby that *just you* can do, that you are giving them the very best food and medicine.  That this miracle of your body works.  
And I know sometimes it doesn't.  But I feel mothers need to spread the word that it is NOT easy, you are NOT going to just "be good" at it.  You have to work at it, like anything else that is worth doing.  
I also, at first, always draped while I was in public.  Until I was at a restaurant in a corner booth, nursing Mooch under a blanket, and some wrinkly-ass old biddy shot me a stink-eye, asked to switch her table and loudly said "INDECENT" when she walked by me.  I threw that blanket back and nursed in full view of anyone who cared to look, and always will.  Apparently society needs to be reminded what breasts are for, and how babies have been eating since the beginning of time.  So, to that old bat, I say :


  1. Oh, that picture is great!

    Makes me happy that you have overall good memories of breastfeeding!

  2. Lydia, how wonderful of you to share your own trying, frustrating, helpful, beautiful and very natural experiences with breast feeding. I don't think there is a woman out there who had an ideal time in the beginning and it is awesome that you share the rewards of afterthought. Blessings to you and those beautiful girls!

  3. You know, it's refreshing to hear someone actually say that becoming a good mother is hard work. I have so many friends, and especially family, that tell me that you "just kind of fall into it". And much like when I asked my dad when God was born and he said he wasn't and that he's just always been here, I'm unbelieving. :) I think it takes extreme patience to have kids and raise them. Though when it comes to snarky old bats like that, I think patience should rightfully go out the window. Good for you for your standing up for your girls and your body!


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