Friday, September 23, 2011

Confessions from a breast feeding mother

This week there simply have been no adventures. We are still trying to get used to the time change; Noah is awake at 4:30am and I am insanely tired by 7. And Amelia? All boob, all the time. She is only interested in nursing. So I have had a lot of time to think about boobs and nursing. Because it is all I do, all day, keep our girl child alive WITH MY BODY. 

When I was pregnant with Noah people started asking the question, 'Do you plan on breast feeding?'. To me this seemed odd. It was like asking someone, 'Hey, I see you have perfectly good legs, but do you want to use these crutches instead?'. I had no opinion on breast feeding before I was pregnant, either, because it did not apply to me. So I was not aware that people had opinions. Big ones. 

Then Noah was born. And I remember feeling this immediate overwhelming helplessness and worry that I was not going to be able to feed him. The nurses had barely cleaned him up and I was trying to get him to latch on, and he wouldn't. I felt like a failure and started asking people for advice. And man alive, do people have advice. I remember the well meaning lactation consultant that came to watch me nurse the morning after Noah was born. She fiddled with my hold, where my hands were on his tiny body, how I cupped my breast to get him to latch on. I was so shaken after that and felt like even more of a failure.

Why hadn't I researched this before?! I thought I looked like an idiot, not knowing what a football hold was, or that you could nurse a baby laying down.

Enter Dr. Google!

Did you know there are opinions on Google as well? Lots of them.

To make a long story short, I did indeed breast feed Noah. It was not easy, and it only lasted about 6 months. And I don't think we had even left the hospital before he had his first taste of formula to supplement. I was discouraged from the beginning by the initial feeling that I was not doing it right, that it was complicated and I was under prepared. And then there was all the advice and opinions. So many peoples advice and opinions rattling through my brain in the middle of the night when I just want my child to be comforted and satisfied, and instead I am trying this hold or that hold and fumbling and fussing.

Don't get me wrong, Noah and I had our times here and there where nursing was a complete joy; where it would just flow (pun somewhat intended). But for the most part our time as a nursing mom and babe was clouded by the white noise of advice/opinions/feelings of inadequacy.

And now, here I am, nursing my second child. Literally, right now... I am typing this with one hand.

Something shifted in me with my pregnancy. Maybe it was being three years older, or maybe it was from having been there and done that, but I had a much greater sense of calm about me from the beginning. And somewhere along the line I decided that my natural instincts could tell me more than Dr. Google if I just shut off the white noise and listened.

So she was born... I listened.

I am an exclusively breast feeding mother. I do it because it is indisputably the best thing for your child. Don't get me wrong, some of the greatest mommy role models in my life made the choice to formula feed their babes. At the end of the day I think we all are doing the best we can as mothers.

But as I sit here, infinitely more successful at breast feeding my girl child than I was my boy child, I have to wonder all these whys. Why does our society make breast feeding seem like this impossible task that only the best Whole Foods shopping, vagan, ultra cool hippie moms can perform? Why are we made to either feel inadequate or ridiculous? Do we do it to ourselves? Should I nurse in public? Do I need to cover up? Who am I offending if I say I breast feed and don't formula feed?

So much white noise.

My wish for mothers and mothers-to-be everywhere is to just shut it out. Don't listen. Just do what is natural. What feels natural.

Don't get me wrong, again. There are times when I am so annoyed with it. When I look down and see these huge feed bags that are the cause of these last ten pounds that are holding on. I know those ten pounds would be gone in a week if I was not breast feeding. So annoyed with leaking milk. Often (but not always) annoyed with the more frequent feedings. But notice those are all selfish reasons. Then I look at me sweet, chunky little two month old and I am renewed.

Renewed that I am doing what is best for my child, and it came naturally. Without the advice/assistance /white noise of anyone else. Just me and her.

And of course a boob. 

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