These days the girls are hard at work feeding my kid. I sort of expected – here we go, Austin and her EXPECTATIONS again – that breast feeding would be hard or weird and sometimes it is. Mostly it’s weird when you find yourself in a bar for a meeting about a volunteer bike ride you are involved with and you have to bring your baby because your husband’s out of town and then you realize your baby wants to nurse and hmmm. People are already looking at you like you’re carrying around a stink bomb (maybe you are, she did have kind of a lot for dinner) so you go out to your car to nurse and some guy with large-gage (is that what they’re called?) earrings and a neck tattoo comes out and TOTALLY sees what you are doing in there and then pretends not to see so now you’re embarrassed sitting in your own damn car. Or maybe that’s just me.
On the whole, I feed my daughter when she needs to be fed and sometimes that means whipping a boob out in public and other times it means excusing us to the car. It makes me more comfortable to get a read on my surroundings and proceed accordingly. My father-in-law, bless his heart, has been a total champ about the whole thing (he was probably the person I was most embarrassed about seeing me at first and now I feed Nora with him in the room almost like it’s nothing and he is cool with it). The days of calling Zack over to stand in front of us with a blanket held up like a curtain are over; I’ve never been good at being discreet about the whole get-boob-out-and-into-her-mouth thing and Nora runs so dang hot that covering us up is pretty close to child abuse in my book. I usually wear a tank top layered under another shirt so I can pull the top shirt up, pop out the boob, and sort of cover the top part of my boob with the shirt, while the tank top keeps my stomach from hanging out all naked. I’ve been told that it just looks like I’m holding Nora when I’m feeding her but maybe that lady and my mom were just being nice.
While I don’t get the warm fuzzies in the traditional sense about breast feeding I got a reality check about my feelings a few weeks ago. I was having some symptoms of thrush, one of them being a lowered supply, and had worked myself into a ridiculous state about it. I spent a whole afternoon on the phone with various doctors and a Le Leche League leader (I even tweeted to Nancy Holtzman about it) who all basically said “It COULD be thrush even though you don’t have the usual markers…” So by the end of the day I had pretty much decided Nora and I not only HAD thrush but WE WOULD SURELY PERISH FROM IT.
I’m sure you can sense where this is heading, yes?
We did not have thrush. I was just welcoming back my monthly cycle in a way my body had never experienced it before. None of my regular symptoms happened and a bunch of symptoms I’d heard other women go through happened instead, so I was not even remotely aware that this could be what was going on. Anyway, my supply dip righted itself after a day or two and my other symptoms went away as those things do when you are a totally normal, non-thrush-having woman with a period. Good Christ. But while I thought my supply was just dwindling and possibly never going to return there were some tears about the possibility of having to wean Nora before either of us were emotionally ready. And right now we’re not. While I don’t wax poetic about breast feeding I realized that it is a bonding experience for Nora and I, and a connection I really value. I LIKE that only I can do this for her and that overall it’s been a positive, relatively easy experience for us.
Which brings me to my last point, which is that being able to nurse at night is both a blessing and a curse. It’s wonderful because if your baby is in your room (or, uh, in your bed. Which Nora is) and within arm’s reach you don’t even have to get up for those pesky night wakings. I only fully wake to sit up and change Nora’s diapers at night these days. HOWEVER, about six weeks ago when Nora had a viral respiratory infection and a double ear infection homegirl decided night nursing was the best! thing! ever! And has since insisted that she be nursed to sleep every goddamn time she wakes up. I can get her to nap without nursing (though it’s nowhere near as easy or peaceful as giving the lady a boob) but there is something that happens at nighttime and my pleasant, reasonable baby is transformed into a yowly, impatient little thing that DEMANDS A BOOB. With her waking up 5+ times a night EVERY NIGHT it’s hard for me to deny her the thing that is going to make her go immediately back to sleep and allow ME to immediately go back to sleep. [Sidebar: I need to just do another post about sleep. I have lots to say on the matter, most of it is of the complainy variety.]
Night nursing: so convenient! So addictive! It’s…going to be really, really hard to quit, isn’t it? Shhh, don’t tell me. Let’s just hold each other and you can tell me everything is going to be okay and that my child won’t want to nurse when she’s heading off to college. We’ll keep the dream alive.