10 Musings on Breast Feeding

It tickles me to death when I post something on CiB and a portion of my 15 readers squee with excitement, "She's back!" It warms my cold, black heart with sunshine!

Please know that this blog will never really go away.  I'm like herpes.  I may go dormant for a couple of weeks, or months, or years (hopefully never that long again), but I'm always here ... under your skin, waiting for 20 minutes of free time to present you with my next cold sore.

Now that that's out of the way, on to the next!

Franco is more interesting than boobs.

Franco licking himself is definitely more interesting than boobs.

My male readership is pretty limited so I don't even feel remotely bad about dedicating a post to breast feeding and pumping.  This is my life now.  And no judgment here if any men want to keep reading.  After all, Derrick is the one who sterilized and assembled the parts of my pump and even read all the instructions and then showed me how to use it.  I was far too out of it early on in Katherine's life to accomplish that on my own.  Or maybe he was just already bored during his paternity leave and looking for a project of any kind.  Either way, I am grateful for his support.

I was so aloof about all of this while I was pregnant, and stupidly didn't take any classes, and only skimmed a Dr. Sears book.  Really, the Sears family lost me when the mother bragged that she had breast fed her adopted child - a remarkable accomplishment, indeed - but then basically labeled all formula-feeders as an army of child-haters.  I tossed it aside and shrugged, "I'll give it a go, and if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out, or if I hate it, I'll quit." And I just couldn't believe breast feeding classes existed at all.  I thought it was just something you did.  Like the cave ladies and their cave babies.

We did take a childbirth class, which was enlightening in some ways, but sometimes the universe has its own plan for you and before you know it, everything you took from childbirth class goes out the window as you're being rushed into the operating room for an emergency C-section.  Childbirth is just one day.  Breast feeding is all day, every day after for as long as you can handle it, and there is no epidural option equivalent.

After I actually gave breast feeding a try, I struggled to put weight on Katherine on my own.  It devastated me.  I knew this in no way determined my ability to function as a woman or a mother, but I still surprised myself by being completely determined to succeed at it.  Thankfully, I had so much support from Derrick, friends near and far, a fantastic lactation consultant, and a stash of Similac to take the edge off the debilitating pressure to perform.  I'm still going 5 months in, but I never feel like I'm "going strong," more like I'm just still ... going.  Sometimes I think about those idiots on 16 and Pregnant and know that if they can do it, surely I can too.  You have to find your motivation where you can find it!

I'd like to present my own experiences below of things I wish I had known.  I hope this is enlightening for my pregnant friends who also might choose to "wing it" with breast feeding.  And thanks to Buzzfeed, it appears many people only like to read things in list form now.

10 Musings on Breast Feeding

1. Breast feeding is the most challenging thing I have ever done.  More challenging than getting into college, succeeding in the workplace, and getting through that emergency C-section without vomiting.

2. Cluster feeding needs to be a priority.  Google it and do it as much as possible.  I had no clue what this was.  The first time I heard someone say it I thought she meant to say clusterf**k.  Life post-childbirth was a very confusing time for me.

3. Clogged ducts can happen, they're terrible, and they will make you want to quit. Those leftover body-numbing Percocets will come in handy when no number of hours or even days of lava-hot showers, scorching hot compresses, pumping, feeding, and knuckleballing yourself will do any good.  I only have 3 pills left so I can only afford to have this happen 3 more times.  Another fun part about this: when you successfully go a few days with free-flowing ducts, you get to say sexy things to your husband like, "I really think wearing these comfy sleep bras all the time is really helping to prevent my ducts from clogging!" Husband: "Umm, great?"

4. You will feel elation and inadequacy, relaxation and frustration, confusion and physical pain, sometimes in the course of 2 or 3 minutes.

5. When your baby is about 3.5 months old, she will become more interested in watching the cat lick himself than in emptying your boob.  She'll be interested in anything that isn't your boob.  Her toys, her dad, anything with a screen - your iPhone, her monitor, and the TV.  God, what fun is breast feeding if you can't watch Real Housewives or text your friends while you do it?

6. You will be hungrier than you ever imagined and you can eat whatever, whenever, and it's awesome.  I'm wolfing down Michael Phelps-level calories and still managing to drop pounds.  When I was pregnant, my doctor said sternly, "You aren't eating for two, you're eating for one." And then after giving birth, "Okay, now you're eating for two, so go ahead, put butterscotch chips in everything!"  I may have imagined that last part.

7.  It is a bigger time commitment than you thought it would be.  Not just that collectively the act itself takes up several hours out of your day, but that you'll only get a break from it for a few hours at the most when your baby is older.  Even if you have help and have the opportunity to sleep longer than 6 hours in a row, your boobs probably won't allow it.  And here you thought that once your baby arrived, you'd have to feed her, sure, but you just didn't realize how much.  Katherine is the first baby I've ever been around so I'm really flying by the seat of my pants here.

8. You might fall asleep occasionally and then wake up freaking out that you fell asleep while holding your baby and what would have happened if you hadn't woken up at that moment!?  Then those feelings will manifest as night terrors where you wake up not knowing if you fell asleep intentionally or not, and you'll search frantically for your baby in your covers, wondering how long she has been buried under there, when actually she is right where she belongs, safely asleep in her own bed.  I would actually think to myself, "I see that baby lying in the crib ... what am I going to do with the other baby when I find Katherine in these covers?  I can't put two babies in one crib.  Where is the other baby going to go, and how many more minutes of sleep will I lose while I'm figuring that out???"  I felt like a lunatic and Derrick thought I had officially lost it, but so many other mothers and fathers have told me they did, or still do, the same thing.  Always helpful, Sandy H. even shipped a less-fluffy quilt for our bed so that it might help me return to reality faster when I woke up freaking out, but it didn't help and we were so cold, so we went back to the fluffier, warmer baby suffocator.

9. People to whom you never intended to show your boobs will probably see your boobs.  In-laws, building maintenance men, dog walkers.  If you thought your modesty could be regained after birth, you were so, so wrong.  I spent my birthday breast feeding in the backseat of our car in front of a BBQ joint in Queens.  On a birthday fun scale of zero to roller skating party, I'd put this at about a 2.

10. You will both look and feel completely ridiculous and bovine the first time you pump.  No - every time.  I had been doing it for several weeks before I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror while pumping, and when Derrick got home, I asked how he had refrained from cracking any jokes that whole time.  He said, "Well, you always looked like you were concentrating so hard, I felt bad for wanting to laugh at you." I think that for as long as I pump, through this child and any potential future children, the most embarrassing moment of my life hasn't happened yet as of this writing.

Gotta wrap this up and go feed someone.

1 comment:

  1. You only have to keep this up for eight more years, you can do it!