Saturday, December 28, 2013

Breastfeeding: a very descriptive post

I used to see my sisters breast feeding their babies when I was 14 and I couldn't wrap my mind around it. Boobs were sex things and supposed to be shoved together, not dangle apart with milk dripping down the belly. I was totally (and understandably) disconnected from the animal instinct that comes with being a mama. Partly because I was young, but also because AMERICA - the place where there is soft porn on billboards but breast feeding in the open is not family friendly. Anyway. 

After I had Leon, I was still quite traumatized by my overly bloody birth, the fact that my nether regions were stretched out, and my boobs were painfully and horribly massive - similar to those of a blow up doll. But I don't think you can order a blow up doll with scabby, bleeding nipples. The horror of looking in the mirror, the inability to wear a shirt, the pain that comes when the heater kicks on or when you get chilled, the ache that takes place while you sit on the couch and try to smile while your family laughs about stuff but you don't know what, and the shear dread that sits on your shoulders as you count down the minutes to when you have to feed your baby again - All of these things were the first two and a half weeks of postpardom. 

Slowly you start to find the shirts that are super absorbent and those that are not. You learn to wear a cardigan to bed so you can at least keep your shoulders warm. You sometimes remember to thank God that at least you have milk to feed your baby. When they eat for an hour and take a three minute break, and want to eat for another hour... Thank God. A starving baby is one of the saddest things to behold. 

Last Sunday, my sweet tiny boy stopped latching. It was stressful. Tyler and I both cried. I had so much milk, which I was apparently drowning him with. So he'd latch for 3 gulps and pop off of there. After 6 hours of trying, my raw skin wanted to give up. I finally fed him with a syringe, but he ended up losing 6 oz. and I swear his little skinny baby alien skin got thinner. 

I called a lactation consultant and paid an extra $50 for her to come to my house. Is it legal to drive shirtless? With a baby in the car would probably make me a sex offender. All this time I've tried to avoid things like bottle feeding, using a nipple shield, a passifier, or even the little mittens so he wouldn't scratch himself - all in the name of things being the way they are supposed to be. Babies cry - passify them with skin to skin or breast milk or a diaper change. Don't cover up their hands because of sensory such and such. And so on. 

I'm here to say that I stand by that stuff... But damn it, God made people smart. If your baby won't eat, try a shield. If their face is covered in scratches, put something on their hands. And if your husband is at work and you need a shower but letting your baby cry while you shower makes you cry and stress out, use a passifier for 5 minutes. There is a balance. 

I will never judge a woman who does everything she can to feed her baby. It's important to be present and make informed decisions. And it's hard. It's so hard. And while I lay here blogging from my phone with milk oozing from me, know that my cardigan is super absorbent, and that my wrinkly little monkey of a baby is full and warm on my belly. And he was fed through a plastic shield. It doesn't make me less of a mama or love my child less. I still birthed a baby like a lioness. No, I did not beat my chest and feel like I could climb a mountain after, like I've heard so many women say. I hardly crawled to the bathroom. But slowly as things begin to move in the direction of balance, I'm like hey... HEY! Come see this cute thing I made! Mountain climbing isn't really for me though. But I do think it's all about "moving in the direction of," even if you havent quite struck balance. 

I guess my thought is that nothing goes the way we plan. Or maybe it does sometimes. Just stay alive (both of you) and kiss your baby 100 times a day. Let them sleep on your belly. Pat their bum. Put your nose on theirs. And feed them. 

Today between long feedings, all I wanted was for him to sleep so I could like, trim my nails and put pants on. He finally drifted off after eating for a good hour, and I just couldn't put him down. I stared at him. Then I fell asleep with my face an inch from his. When I woke up he was staring at me with his dark eyes and little baby bird mouth open, ready to hit the tit again. 

I'll end with this side note. People talk about what's going on in their lives. When I started to write this, the only thing I could write was about breast feeding because currently it's all that I do. I've had the issue with moms before that I don't know how to talk to them because all they talk about is mom stuff. Well, such is life. This blog will mostly be about mom stuff. And perhaps those moms had an issue with me because all I knew how to talk about was work or yoga. Anyway... I am working on meeting people where thy are. I hope you'll do the same with me. And perhaps sometimes be like, "Shannon. Go read a freaking book. You're boring." 

Someone doesn't like being the baby spoon
Eating his blanket for a sec because I needed a 2 minute timeout
Ah, sleep. And my new L bracelet that I love, from Anthro. 

1 comment:

  1. oh my gosh, I used a nipple shield for maybe 6 weeks with owen? only way I managed to breastfeed. and pacifiers can be AWESOME. I'm sure if you've talked to a lactation consultant you already know this, but I just have to say (from my own experience) oversupply can be a legit issue! your body may just need some time to regulate, but if you are overproducing that can cause pain for you and gassiness and stuff for baby. block feeding can help, and also reclining to nurse. good luck, you're awesome. :)