Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Go With the Flow

"There are three reasons for breast-feeding: the milk is always at the right temperature; it comes in attractive containers; and the cat can't get it." ~Irena Chalmers

Say the word "breastfeeding" and its like a game of stream of consciousness. People love it, people hate it. People think its beautiful and natural, people think its vulgar and inappropriate. Phrases like "Granola Mom" and "Nursing Nazi" get thrown around. I've heard it was the worst experience for people, and I've heard its a bunch of tree loving hippie crap. Sometimes I think our country's Puritan foundations make for all kinds of panties being put in a twist over baring a boob in public, regardless of whether its because of a wardrobe malfunction or to feed a hungry baby.

But I do breastfeed. I've breastfed Monkey and Scootch, and I'm breastfeeding Little Bear. And yes its beautiful and natural, but its also because I'm kind of lazy and poor. To me its infinitely easier to pull my kid out of the co-sleeper and yank up my shirt when he's hungry in the middle of the night, than to have to stumble downstairs in the pitch dark and cold to fumble in the kitchen with making a bottle. And its also easier for me to always be able to whip out the pump and make a bag of liquid gold for free instead of running out to the store for formula. It might not be the answer for everybody, but it works for me. Even if it doesn't work as smoothly as it should.

No matter what anyone else thinks about breastfeeding, I always liken it to the endurance course I had to do at Scout Camp when I was 16. We were split up into groups and each group had to work through different pieces of an obstacle course, only getting assigned the next challenge when you completed the piece of equipment you were currently on. So there really was no time to plan ahead, or plan in which order your team members should go according to their strengths and weaknesses. It was just hard and surprising. For everyone. To me breastfeeding is the same way. There are so many problems, and so many issues, and there is no way to know ahead of time or plan for them all. Some kids don't latch. Some kids are allergic to the milk. Some moms can't make enough milk, and some moms make too much.

I've struggled with oversupply with all 3 kids. Basically my body makes enough milk for triplets instead of a single baby and so the quality of the milk isn't balanced enough, making for all kinds of gas and discomfort in the infant. With Monkey it was really bad. I mean, I was a first time mom, following the guidelines of 10 minutes each side that they told you at the hospital. She wasn't a great nurser to begin with, so there was alot of sipping going on just to tease my body into thinking it had to make more, more, MORE milk. I was also pumping a lot to stockpile a frozen supply, which didn't help either. Poor kid was almost 5 months old before I finally figured out why we had such a love hate relationship with nursing. She'd sit there and scream and fight the entire time she was gulping and clawing at me. But after that experience, I was on the alert with Scootch. I made sure not to repeat any of the mistakes I made with Monkey. He also turned out to be a champ in the nursing department. I think he was born, stuck on my chest, and was eating within 6 minutes or something. Total boob man from the beginning.

Little Bear's experience is back to being frustrating again. I knew I'd have the oversupply issue again as soon as my milk came in, and nursing time became the bit in UHF where the little boy got to drink from the firehose. I had to make sure Little Bear wasn't drowning at each feeding. I started block feeding to try and even out the milk supply which leaves me walking around with a lopsided chest. And all those "beautiful" and "natural" people really need to experience the beautiful natural pain that goes hand in hand with this. Letdown likened to the force of a pressure washer isn't a comfortable thing. But its 6 weeks later, and I think we're "over the hump" as my Dad likes to say. I actually get nursing sessions followed by soft smiles and coos instead of just being done with the screaming and ending the feeding. I'm still block feeding, but its taking less time per block to get to the point where we can switch to the other side and even out my appearance. So I'm hoping the dedication comes through. Because I'm still too cheap to want to have to shell out money for formula.

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