The female human mammary parts, also known as boobs, are really for nourishing our offspring. Despite what popular culture has made us think, sorry fellas, (and gals) this is really true.
But that’s okay, they don’t call them fun bags for nothing. That is an entirely different post. Today we are talking about mammaries in the appropriate life-giving job they were meant for- creating breast milk.
When I was pregnant with Emma, I had a dream that when I nursed her for the first time it would be magical. It really perpetuated my fantasy of breast feeding my children. What? Yes, I had fantasies about breast feeding my children.
I had seen my sister in law do it, and other women, and I was looking forward to the time when I would be able to do it too. Holding a baby close while it used you for the life-giving nourishment it needed. Smelling its soft little head. Caressing those chubby little fingers. The sounds of satisfaction while it drank selfishly like a baby should.
I can practically hear the birds and harps while I type that above paragraph.
Let’s fast forward in our little montage to the day Emma was born.
My boobs were already huge from pregnancy. And sore. Why so sore? Or at least I thought that was sore. Just wait. Wait until that gumless wonder comes to latch on.
You would think a baby would know how to latch on. Well they don’t. They are idiots. They need to be taught. This isn’t wild kingdom. I’m not some orangutan mom that just walks around the jungle on my knuckles with a baby suckling from my dangly nipple. Human children, unlike giraffe children, need help.
So the nurse put my little hatchling bird of a child on my breast. She SHOVED her onto my breast. Emma sucked on that booby and I swear, I swear newborns have teeth. Maybe there’s something on the roof of their mouth that resembles sharp little razors, because that’s what it felt like. And then she gagged. Dang it. Latch lost. We did this a number of times. The nurses seemed to think she had a tummy full of fluid of when she came down the birth canal. So they gently pumped her little stomach and we tried again. She didn’t gag so much this time. It still hurt like hell for me.
I was starting to long for an epidural just to feed my baby. That first week her cries of hunger sent me in to panic. My boobs had had enough. One of them was bleeding. I thought this is insane. No where in books or stories from friends did it come out this hard to breast feed a kid. What in thee hell? I muddled through and fed her on command. At times we were both crying.
I wanted to ditch breastfeeding all together. I thought, “if I just go to a bottle and formula, my life would be so easy.” Add on lack of sleep and a recovering vajajay and you’ve got a cranky, miserable mama.
I called the lactation nurse hotline the hospital gave me. When they heard my nipples were cracked and bleeding they told me to stop entirely. Their advice- get a pump, pump the milk, it won’t hurt, have your husband feed the baby, and use this time to heal.
James went out and rented a giant breast pump. It looked like a sewing machine in the case. I sat on the lid of the toilet of our upstairs bathroom and pumped away. I was crying. I felt like a failure. Why was something so natural not coming at all easily for me?
To my surprise, pumping was quite easy. Weird, but easy. And painless! The milk shot out in those containers and they filled to the measured 8 ounce line. I hoped that was enough and handed over the liquid gold to hubs for him to feed our daughter.
That week the pumping, feeding, pumping, feeding routine was going smoothly. It was awkward, since it was hard for me to get a reserve enough to be one feeding ahead in case of an emergency or if I needed to go somewhere. I felt like a cow at a dairy farm hooked up to the milking machines! The milk I pumped was being consumed entirely. I stressed if a drop was wasted or spilled.
I told my sister in law that it was nerve racking trying to bank up a supply. She joked that she still had some breast milk in her freezer from my niece. I toyed with the idea of her FedExing that to me! We talked about how in other cultures and times there’s wet nurses to feed the children. Boy, did that sound like a wonderful concept!
By the time Emma was 4 weeks old, my boobs had healed, she and I perfected her latch-on, and I was nursing her on-demand with no issues. I was glad in the end that we figured things out. But I have zero judgement to any woman and her breastfeeding experience and how they choose to feed their baby. There really is no ‘one size fits all’ situation. What’s important is healthy, thriving children and healthy, happy and rested moms!
This post was made possible by not only my fine tatas but also the http://breastmilkproject.org/
Their mission- Our vision is that every infant in the world have access to donor human milk as a first choice when a mother’s own milk is not available. We aim to create awareness for the need for donor human milk, mobilize donors, and provide donor milk to infants in need.