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tales of something simple - March 2012

i believe

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

all types of chaos

a note to my future breastfeeding self to say

I’ve repeatedly been thinking lately that I need to write some thoughts down on my journey of breastfeeding Marley. I don’t know when we will have another child, however, I want to capture these moments, bottle them up and sail them back to my future breastfeeding self. It took me a very long time to decide that I was going to breastfeed. If you had asked me a year ago what I thought of breastfeeding I would have said “It’s just as good as formula” or “Ewww breastfeeding is so gross.” My husband, believe it or not, was the one who said “Yo dude. Not acceptable. You’re gonna milk the baby woman.” Whoa. Well OK husband. So I thought about it. I got the creepy crawlies imagining a baby sucking on my “tit.” And nursing in front of another PERSON? You are crazy. Never. If I was going to breastfeed (notice how I call it nursing now, because I’m a pro and all) I certainly was going to not need a cover because I would be locked in a room, alone, and no one would ever see my boobies. EVER. Not even my husband. And I would only do it for the first 6 weeks because that’s all a baby really needs. Yeah, I so knew my shit. NOT.

I took a breastfeeding class before I delivered. I was still skeeved out and was about to birth a small turkey through my vajayjay in less than two weeks. I snickered watching the videos they showed of teaching Mom’s to breastfeed, the various, never ending images of babies sucking on nipples. I was like a five year old. Yet every time I visited my best friend who was exclusively breastfeeding her infant, I couldn’t help but think of baseball or my grandma when she whipped her boob out. I was like a dude trying not to have an orgasm. Except I was trying not to LOOK at her feeding her baby because it was like a car crash, so horrible but so hard not to gawk at. She made it look so easy. Still, my toes curled at the idea but I bought all the necessary equipment, bottles, bras, lanolin, etc.

And then, I had a baby. My awesome, kick-ass, totally rad, nurse asked me if I wanted to breastfeed her before they took her up for a bath. I hadn’t even counted toes or fingers or even looked for a birth mark yet but I said “yes” without hesitation. We nursed quickly and I barely remember it. But I remember we did it. We continued to nurse and man alive I struggled. The girl could latch, there was no issue there. She was a damn piranha that girl was (still is today). I remember she wouldn’t latch the second time I tried to feed her the night she was born. It was so late and my nurse said, “let me just put some sugar water on my finger and see how her suck is.” My eyes were glazed over and I was half awake and all of the sudden she shrieks “Nope, nope, no latch problem here, she sucks just fine!”

By four days old I gave her formula. Broke the ultimate, sacred, breastfeeding rule. No bottle, no binkie, no formula. But man this chick seemed starved. She sucked down 2.5 ounces as if she was in a beer bong contest. I cried. I was killing my baby I was convinced. Starving her. Nah.

My milk came in the next day after I cried and supplemented all night because feeding hurt me so much I physically felt like throwing her. That morning I was in bed wailing, refusing to speak, and my husband sat on our bedroom floor bleary eyed flipping furiously through all those magazine booklets we got at the hospital and in our breastfeeding class.

“Have you tried warm compresses? Breast compression? Do you relax your shoulders when you feed her? Visualization? Does milk come out when you squeeze your nipple?”

I thought he was bat shit crazy.

I got in the shower and played with my boobs for about a half hour.

I got out and tried again.

After about ten minutes of laying there with my eyes closed, sad that I was failing, she unlatched. And there…was her first milk mustache. I would soon come to realize I would feel this very same excitement in the coming days, weeks and months every time she took a crap or slept for 2 hours in a row.

The first month sucked. My nipples bled. I would cringe at the sight of a towel after a shower. She would take 45 minutes or longer to eat and then 45 minutes later it was time to eat all over again. She would latch on and my toes would literally curl and I would scream silent obscenities. Breast pads would stick to me and I would cry as I peeled them off. I would apply lanolin like I was lubing up for a five-hour rendezvous with my husband. I saw a lactation consultant at my local (non-delivery) hospital and she became my go-to support for all things related to nourishing my baby. She was my cheerleader, same as my hubby, but with pink pom-poms instead of blue (sorry honey, you really were an encouraging rock star). We continued.

Here we are, just over five months and still working out some current lack of supply issues. The past week has been very trying, but we press on. I truly hope our journey is not coming to a close and I am doing everything I can, other than not stressing, to make sure all the hard work we have done continues paying off. If it doesn’t it won’t be for lack of passion, dedication and relentless trying. If she has to have the rest of my 170 oz. stash of frozen breast milk or drink formula she will thrive and live on as a happy little baby girl.  In the meantime, I want to remind my future breastfeeding self of some things I learned along the way that I will surely forget and don’t want to. I want to be able to look back and have some clear reminders that will turn on that light bulb of sanity if the next round has a crappy a start as this time did. I want to have it on paper that I persevered and rocked it.

Dear Jessica,

Your nips may hurt, you may be lacking lots of sleep and your baby may be fussy. Deal with it. Marley did it, it’s normal and it’s to be expected. Listen to the following advice and remember…it was worth it the first time.

  • Eat oatmeal every day, it helps boost supply.
  • Warm showers or hot, wet towel compresses help with letdown in those first several weeks, especially when pumping.
  • Supply=demand.  Do not supplement because you don’t feel lik you have enough at first.  Feed often and feed on demand.
  • Screw the clock.  It does not matter how OFTEN she eats, just make SURE she eats at least every 3 hours, if not every 2 when it is daytime.
  • Fill the baby up feeding as much as possible during the day as it gets older so it associates nighttime with sleeping.  Doesn’t mean it will work, but worth a shot!
  • Check your pump parts before you start thinking your supply sucks.  You might need new shit!
  • If you feed on one side, pump the other simultaneously (it encourages dual letdown for you).
  • If you want a freezer stock of breast milk enough to last three weeks if you had to exclusively bottle feed then start pumping ASAP.  Don’t wait.  And for the love of god, freeze in bags, not little bottles next time.  Oh and DO NOT freeze in glass!
  • Cry over spilled milk.  It is worthy of such grief.  The only one’s making fun are those who have never pumped and then spilled it themselves.
  • Use nipple cream in small amounts or it stains clothes. Wash shirts right away or put stain stick on one’s that get milk on it.  It DOES stain.
  • Reusable breast pads are better than disposable and don’t make noise when your boobs shift.
  • Get the 27mm flanges. Your nips appreciate them.
  • Drink lots of water.  Make your body a sea of water.
  • You are what you eat and so is the baby.  Go get some food, woman!
  • In the early days use a boppy, pillows, relax your shoulders and put your feet up and bent on a stool for best position.  Take your time getting set up.  Rushing=pain in the end.
  • Your nipples will not always feel like they have been bitten off at the tip.
  • Check for a good latch.  Nipple pointed up to roof of mouth, tongue forward.  Check EVERY time.  Pull chin down if needed during feeding.
  • Make small circles on side of boob to make more milk during feeding.
  • Pump in the middle of the night.  Don’t be a pussy.  You are awake anyway.
  • Milk output tends to be higher in the early AM.  Take advantage.
  • Cluster feed during fussy times.  Most brilliant cure of your tears and theirs, ever.
  • Wear a bra woman.  Those things are starting to look like they belong in a National Geographic magazine.  Buy new boobs after the last baby.  And a lift too!
  • Use ice on painful boobies, but after a feeding (not while engorged).
  • You will stop feeling engorged in the middle of the night around 3 months.  It doesn’t mean they are empty.
  • Use the manual pump in the early days when the electric one isn’t enough to get a letdown.  Yes, your arm starts to feel like you are giving a hand job but that is because you are doing it right.
  • Before you sit down to nurse, grab the remote, a drink, your phone, computer, a snack, and a magazine.  You will not be able to get up for 45 minutes.
  • Enjoy this time.  It will not last forever and it is precious.  You are getting to do something for this baby that no one else can (I mean they CAN, but it would be kind of weird).  Even when you are tired, cranky, overly touched and wanting to do something, ANYTHING ELSE, keep going.  And if all else fails, make yourself feel guilty if you want to give up because you did it for baby #1, so the rest deserve similar blood, sweat and milk :-)



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