I haven't written in awhile. There are a couple of reasons for this...one being that raising two humans is no joke, another that on top of our parental duties, we have had several months with a lot of work, and lastly, all of the things I want to write about feel like they are the same things I have already written about.
I don't want this space to be an area to rant, so I am trying to censor some of my more repetitive thoughts, and focus on the blog's purpose...a realistic telling of parenthood for my kiddos to read down the road.
So...today I will write about my experience with breastfeeding. Please do not feel obligated to read about me nursing my children, it will not hurt my feelings, just stop reading now.
Okay, with that out of the way...
My mom nursed my sisters and I and it was always my plan to do the same with my kiddos. I didn't really even think about it. It wasn't for any specific reason (i.e. nutritional/health value, child/mama bonding, ease/cost effectiveness), but I will say that I have really enjoyed the perks of all of the above.
I have found that there are things that we don't say to new nursing moms. We don't talk about how it is going to hurt for awhile. In fact, you will often hear people say, "if it hurts you are doing it wrong." If this were the truth I would have quit on day two. You see, your nipples have to get used to this new role...I would compare it to learning how to play the guitar. Your fingers are going to hurt for a few days, and then they don't anymore. At least this is how it was for me.
In that first week, every time my little one latched I would have an initial "wowza" moment, and then it was okay. They tell you to use lanolin lotion, make sure the baby is latched correctly, position the baby just so...I don't buy it. I think it just hurts for a couple of days. My advice is, you can do it. You just birthed this kid for crying out loud. What's a few days with sore nipples?
The other thing that is not explicitly explained is that even though our bodies were created to be able to do this, our minds still don't know how. And even with the internal instinct our babies have to nurse, it is still probably going to be awkward for awhile.
I took a class before Ramona was born. The lactation consultant showed a room full of us first time mamas how to make a "c" with your hand cupping your breast, and we practiced with boppy pillows and baby dolls. I left thinking, check that off the to do list, now I know how to nurse. Well, it's a bit different when you have been in labor for 24 hours, just given birth, have a nurse standing behind you moving your arms like she is teaching you to play golf, and there is a living being crying to be fed. In addition, the hospital was anxious about Ramona's breathing, so the first time we got to try and nurse was a good seven hours after she was born, since she and Andy had spent the day in the NICU. Then the sassy little thing wouldn't pee.
There is a checklist of things that the hospital would like to happen to make sure all is well with this new human. Peeing is one of them. So, when she had pooped out the lovely black tar newborns start off with, but there was no urine, they wanted me to nurse with formula. Which meant that my already awkward start was more awkward and nerve racking with a thin tube taped to my nipple (this never actually worked, by the way). To make a long story short. We were much relieved to get home, and find that on our own time line, nursing was going to work for us.
Ramona was the chunkiest baby at the breastfeeding support group we went to, really more for an escape from our house than support. I produced enough milk that I could have fed an additional child, and she continued to nurse until she was 13 months old, even with me getting pregnant again when she was 9 months. I wouldn't say that I am an exhibitionist when it comes to nursing in public, but I have been known to nurse, with a blanket, at the table in a restaurant, when absolutely necessary.
With Miles it started very different. He was born, laid on my stomach, and wiggled his way up to nurse within minutes. I don't seem to have nearly the amount of milk this time around, but I suspect that is because he eats it all!
And lastly, we don't tell moms that if they decide to nurse exclusively, that the only minutes away from this little person for at least the first three months of their lives will be when you are in the bathroom...and even then it's questionable whether you will be able to get away. Ramona never really took a bottle, and Miles has had only a handful in his 9 months. So...that means I am never far from their side. I greatly admire women who work and pump. I hate pumping, and therefore, my kiddos nurse.
So...why write this in my blog? Well, I want Ramona, as a mom, and Miles, as a dad, to know that nursing your babies can be hard, especially at the beginning. I want them to know that it is different for every mom and different for every baby. I want them to know what my experience has been, and that I am grateful everyday that this is how it worked out for us. I want them to know that my ability to nurse is not directly correlated with how much I love them. If I hadn't been able to nurse, or had decided not to breastfeed, I would not have been a worse mother.
I also want them to know how cool I think it is. My body was designed to give nourishment to my babies. I grew them as fetuses, and I fed them as infants. They know that when they cry in the night, I will be the one to come and comfort them. I want them to know that, by nursing them, I learned what it means to be a mom. The sacrifice along with the reward. The 3am feedings with the milk drunk smiles.