Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Milky Mamma

Being a parent is a wild adventure, filled with twists, turns, happiness, worries and all sorts of other surprises that will either make your day or scare the crap out of you. While becoming adjusted to my newfound role of "mommy", I also opted to take a stroll down the path of breastfeeding. I have to admit, despite being forewarned about the difficulty of nursing, it looked pretty simple to me. Put baby to your boob and the baby will just latch on and go for it. Nurse alot and make plenty of milk. Sounds easy right? Our bodies and our babies were made to do this right? Wrong! Successful breastfeeding was one of the most difficult aspects of this entire experience. For the first two months I hated it. I was quite embarassed to admit this. The pain was excrutiating. My nipples always felt like the dog had been chewing on them relentlessly. When I got cold, I swear I was able to shoot needles out of them. I spent hours and hours of my day doing it (every hour and a half, day and night, probably 8-10 hours), and I was a slave to my milk. There is no break from breastfeeding. The emptying of the breast, by baby or by pump, must be done every few hours because they just keep filling up. Because of this you have to wear a bra with nursing pads 24/7 or you will announce to everyone that you're your own personal dairy or risk soaking your bed at night. Since breastfeeding is a supply and demand process, ignore your milk, and you will make less and have to endure the awful feeling of your breasts being about to explode. The fact of the matter was that mommy and baby just could not get it right. Also the issue of my boob being twice as big as her head didn't help either. My goal was two weeks. Maybe if I could just last six weeks. Two months would be great! Finally, three months into this extremely painful disaster and two different lactation specialists later with the help of a third, Devyn and I got it. First step was no more nipple shield. This is a fake plastic nipple that you're supposed to get rid of after a few weeks that we were both addicted to. It causes a decreased supply, clogged ducts which are like pebbles of fire, and less nourishment to baby. With practice we established a good latch that didnt bring tears to my eyes, and after about three days of nonstop nursing a much better milk supply. By four months we were pros and Devyn was latching on all by herself. Now at six and a half months, she can find my nipple from across a dark room and try to suck on it, whether or not I'm wearing a shirt. I am afraid that I will be the crazy, creepy woman breastfeeding her five year old. I plan on stopping before that of course. I have never been one to really stick with something, especially after an experience like that, but I was determined. Everything in my heart told me it was the right thing to do, especially when I was finding excuses to quit. Keeping at it has been the most rewarding part of being a mom. Being the only one who can nurse your baby can be tiring, but it is a bond that only you can have with your child. Cuddling up and nursing is wonderful and when your baby only wants to do this with you its amazing, not to mention the health benefits for both. It's the perfect food for your little one and it's free. I never have to make, pack, wash, or heat a bottle. While I never thought I would say this, I will definitely take a stroll down the milky way again if we decide on another child and I will be utterly sad and disappointed when it comes time to wean Devyn. Maybe when her little teeth decide to make their grand entrance, I might be singing a different tune.

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