I had this wild notion to breastfeed my 3rd baby. Before you get all twisted at the thought of “wild notion” let me explain. The idea of breastfeeding to me was and still is a bit wild. As in wild animals. Dairy farms. Nursing pups. Baboons on display at the zoo with babies hanging from their nipples. Wild. Now before you start on the breast is best commentary, come on down from your righteous throne and get over it. Not everyone feels that way.
Fed is best.
You won’t win that argument here.
My babies have been fed formula, pumped milk and now exclusively breast fed and honestly they all cry and whine and I’m sure they’ll all grow up to similar degrees of crazy so let’s just agree to feed our babies and leave it at that.
So where were we. I decided to breastfeed baby 3 for a number of reasons. All my babies were c sections and a small part of me feels like I may have missed something in the delivery that may have made me feel…a little more heroic. I mean, you have moms pushing babies out of their VAGINAS and I’m over here with my hair blown out on an operating table asking them for a xanax cocktail through my IV. And as sad as I may be about missing out on my babies trip down the birth canal, my vagina is still in tact so there’s a silver lining.
However my fear of missing out on important life experiences made me realize that if I didn’t try to breastfeed baby 3 I would never have another opportunity. That and the promise google made to me that my uterus would shrink at a record pace. Spoiler alert, googles a liar.
A dirty, rotten liar.
So I made the decision to try to breastfeed. It went like this “ok boobs. We’re gonna give this a go. Don’t look at me like that, I don’t think I’ll like it either. You either step up to the plate or sit on the sidelines but I can promise you that if you don’t give it your all on the first shot we are calling game and headed back home to our comfort zone”.
I was feeling pretty good about myself and my decision until we got to the hospital. I immediately got asked the number one question. Breast or bottle feeding? The nurse just stared at me with those pleading, “please say breast because it just makes the world a better place” eyes. Breast it was. But I just want to know why they are so damn nosy about all of it. I mean, here I am hiding behind my curtain. Trying to maintain the 1/2 an ounce of dignity I have left since someone came in every 4 hours during the night to change my wee wee pad and spray my privates with warm water. And all I can hear is “did he latch? How’s he doing?”.
And the panic sets in.
At this point I am literally shoving my nipple into the babies mouth. The baby is reaching up with his mouth wide open similar to a seal at feeding time, yet this guy isn’t catching any fish. I’m shoving, he’s missing. Nurse Nosy is still on the other side of the curtain playing a rapid fire game of 20 questions. Just when I started to literally drip sweat and curse and threaten that if the baby didn’t latch in another 20 seconds I would be submitting my paperwork to the Similac strong moms webpage and going to feed him a bottle, he latched.
And so our breastfeeding journey began.
One of the best parts about breastfeeding besides the obvious health benefits is that it’s freeeeeee. And trust me I know plenty of “if it’s free it’s for me moms” that breastfeed primarily for this purpose. (I was hoping for the miraculously shrinking uterus but we will touch on that later.). I just want to be the first to let you know that the whole promise of free… falls flat. Flat on its face in the nursing aisle at target as you’re tossing these items into your cart.
Nursing pads: because your sick of walking around with big old wet spots on your shirt and shoving toilet paper in your bra is so middle school.
Nipple cream: because no one told you that achieving that perfect latch can also feel like 38 million of the tiniest and sharpest knives exiting your nipples. Oh, and not to mention things crack and bleed and blister. And yeah, I’m not talking about your heels in the winter. I’m still talking about your poor, sweet nipples. They will take a beating. And you will pay any amount of money to numb them.
Milk producing aides: maybe your lucky to be able to nurse your baby 8 times a day and still manage to pump 20 oz to build up a freezer stash. Maybe you’ve been blessed by the gods in the milky heavens. However if you weren’t, which I assume many are not…you will find yourself eating certain foods to “up” your production. Things are going well you think but then you see those mamas posting pictures of their stash in the Facebook pages. Suddenly you have this competitive need to pump enough milk to feed every infant in your town. No, your entire state. So in go the supplements. drops, chews, drinks, cookies. Challenge accepted.
And just when you think your cart is finally full don’t forget to grab that nursing cover, because god forbid someone know what’s going on under there // a nursing bra, because yes you will have to leave the house and wear a bra at some point // milk freezer bags, to store all that extra supply obviously // and set a reminder to order all new pump parts because you could swear you read somewhere to change them out every few months.
Another fun breastfeeding fact is that you can throw your schedule out the window. I am hardly a type A but I do like my babies on a schedule. Eat at 8, sleep at 10, repeat all day until bedtime. But no. Breastfeeding is an entirely different animal. It’s more along the lines of eat, eat, eat, cry to eat, eat more, snack time, eat because the snack wasn’t enough, eat, eat, eat and bedtime. Bedtime of course means another 3 maybe 4 meals.
I mean. Oh my word! There is really no point to wearing a shirt in the beginning. And I promise you it’s normal to google things such as:
“Why does my baby nurse constantly?”
“Can my baby really be this hungry?”
“Can someone please explain the nursing benefits to me again because I would really love to take a shower without a baby hanging from my boob?”
And the answers?
It’s for comfort, growth spurt, developmental learning.
Great. So I’m a human pacifier to the fastest growing baby who will one day cure cancer.
I guess I can live with that.
But honestly speaking, how can we forget to talk about the bond. No one can describe or explain that one. It’s a try it for yourself and see. It’s why I forgot everything that I wrote above and kept on nursing past my goal. It’s a feeling that your baby has needs that only you can fulfill and while it can and will be exhausting it’s also extremely gratifying. Those sweet nursing moments sitting in a big chair with only a lamp on for light will be memories that I will never forget.
And trust me, I didn’t think I would be able to do it.
I didn’t think I would be physically able to handle being the only person able to do every feeding with 2 other kids running around. Or have the guts to nurse in public. I tell you, no one was as shocked as I was to be sitting on a public bench with a baby on my boob. But you’ll sort of just become a total mama bear, or perhaps mama cow fits better. You will surprise yourself in what you are capable of. And you will be so happy that you did it.
So yes, breastfeeding definitely has more to it then the pamphlets in labor and delivery let on. The ups and downs will leave you exhausted and you will want to quit all of the time. But you won’t. And when you do, you will cry. I can promise you that. My only hope is that you have a smooth sailing journey nursing journey. That you let the good outweigh the bad, that your nipples don’t bleed and that you produce more milk then a dairy farm. Oh and that your uterus shrinks at a rapid pace. Because if you haven’t guessed, mine did not and so I pray you are one of the chosen ones.
So go on, give your girls a little pep talk and good luck!