Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Breastfeeding


Mother's Day this year turned into three days of celebration. My sister-in-law threw an unexpectedly raging party Saturday afternoon. I was cooked for and waited on Sunday. Yesterday, my mom treated me to shopping, lunch and salon. Now that I have been properly celebrated, I will share some wisdom . . . just kidding.



The best part of yesterday was talking to my mom. She's discerning, nonjudgmental and laughs at everything. I've always been able to discuss just about anything with her and will forgo the more personal examples. One of the motherly things she helped me get through is breastfeeding.



I was committed to the idea of breastfeeding over formula, but the reality of my first week with Daisy wasn't the serene and lovely experience I had pictured. I was so sore, even bleeding a little, and had feelings of violent fury whenever a male was around while I was trying to make it work. I felt like screaming, "You asshole, you never have to go through this! Get out of here!"



But after awhile, breastfeeding didn't hurt anymore, and I was grateful to have had a nice long maternity leave to get it right. The whole process didn't just magically happen - at least for us. I was surprised by a fear of failing as a woman if I couldn't do it. It's not that I think there's anything wrong with using formula. The decision to breastfeed or use formula is a highly personal choice. For me, it was important to breastfeed.



It became a little more complicated when I returned to work. During the week, I would eat my lunch while walking to the nurse's office across the college campus from my office, then pump milk for about 15 minutes. The nurses were often giggling at the sound of the pump when I emerged from their break room. I smiled at their jokes but was actually a little sensitive about it. I would then tote the nursing pump back to the classroom in its black bag, stopping to bust teenagers on the way who would wonder what it was I was carrying. It caused some paranoia and one near bomb scare.



My mother told me that a lot of men will spend a lifetime in pursuit of naked breasts, but they can't handle seeing them put to their real purpose. I didn't think this was true for the males I knew but was surprised by one friend who may have voiced what others were afraid to say. He said he wished he didn't feel this way but when he had seen a woman breastfeeding in a restaurant, his initial thought was, "Ewww. Can't you do that somewhere else?" This is a man who had a nipple ring and was a devotee of Burning Man, returning with stories of naked orgies. I was a little surprised at his squeamishness.



I breastfed my first daughter until she was 14 months and the second, for a year. I know many moms who go longer but it was the right time for us. It will be one of those things that I will be nostalgic about for the rest of my life. When my middle brother was an infant, my great-grandma asked my mom if she could give it a try so she could remember what it felt like. My mom handed her the baby (sorry if this is the first time you're hearing about this, Bro). Luckily, no one made a similar request to me because I'm not sure how I would have felt about that, but I totally understand.



picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/goetter/1853834576/

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