Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It's True

Warning: Breastfeeding is talked about in this post. 

Warning again: Breastfeeding may be mentioned in many future posts.

One more time: This means that the words breast, nipple, boob... etc might be used. Read on at your own risk.

It gets better.

That's what everyone kept saying about breastfeeding.

Give it some time, it gets better.

In about six weeks, you'll feel better.

Just keep going, it gets better.

Six weeks. It all starts getting better at six weeks.

I remember the magical "six weeks" being talked about before giving birth. I remember thinking, "That's not bad. I can do that."

And truth be told, now that the little booger is 8 weeks old and eating well, sleeping well, and smiling back at us, it wasn't all that bad.

But during those first weeks, I had many moments where I wasn't sure if it would ever get better. I dreaded each and every feeding. The two hour between feeding windows would fly by and I would still be throbbing as I picked her up. I would say a quick prayer, curl my toes, and pull her close. It felt like there was an angry monkey, clamping down hard, off on off on off on. Because as I was learning, so was she. But good gravy, her sucking would go from sippy, sippy... sip... sip.... to LET'S PLAY TUG OF WAR WITH MOMMY! Tug of war was the worst. It was TUG aaaand pop off. And scream because apparently it was all my fault that she had pulled off and that must mean I wanted her to starve. TUG pop scream. TUG pop scream. During the night, in my half awake reasoning, I would not appreciate Jim's sweetness. I would be breathing through my teeth as she chomped away and he would wake up and dreamily tell me what a good mom I was and if there was anything he could do? I wanted to shout, "YOU CAN START LACTATING!!" But I wouldn't. I would look at him with gritted teeth, say no thank you, I love you too, now go back to sleep. Because, really, what could he do?

And then came the breast pump.
First of all, you pray an uncle in England dies and leaves you some leftover cash. These ain't exactly cheap, sister. I stressed myself out reading reviews on Amazon, Target,, and everywhere else. I think I've said this before but reading reviews is initially helpful, then it becomes overwhelming. The first one gushes how this is the best purchase of her life and she can't imagine going on without it... and the second bemoans that it stole all her chickens and soiled her quilts.
After reading reviews and comparing prices for four days and making a final decision 5 times, I called the local breastfeeding center. Yes. There are such things. I wanted advice. So, seriously... just tell me which one is the best. Oh, everyone prefers different ones? I didn't see THAT answer coming. So I asked her who had the best prices. I even jokingly asked about a "breast pump black market." She told me to, get this, check on Amazon. Also, Target and Babies 'R Us carry them as well. Lady, thank you! I had NO idea such places existed! I mean, is Amazon, like, a store that came from South America?!

Second, a prized Jersey in a dairy farm was never a wish. But if any of you have ever desired to feel like a cow, attach yourself to one of these things and live the dream. The first time I turned it on, the dog was frantic. She ran circles in our room, her panic evident. "How can you be so calm?! There's an animal in the black bag sucking your life away!" My humiliation was made justifiable only with the thought that this will allow me to escape the house without the fear of my baby shrinking into nothingness.
The instruction booklet for it was written by Kali, the 4-10 armed Hindu goddess. Seriously. It's best to double pump it says. Okay... but it also says it's best to detach the hose from the suction cup thingys first before removing them from your boobs. How, if I'm already using both hands? I DON'T CARE, screams the instruction booklet, BUT IT'S BEST!! Right. Okay...detached but they fell to the floor. KEEP THEM STERILE! Well, too late. OH MY WORD!! YOU HAVE EXACTLY TWO MINUTES TO GET THOSE THINGS IN BOILING WATER OR THE WARRANTY WILL BE COMPLETELY NILL! The booklet also harps on the importance of putting a lid on the bottle of milk as soon as you pull it off. Do not try to dry yourself or try to catch any drips from wetting your clothes. IMMEDIATELY PUT THE LIDS ON. LIKE, YESTERDAY WOMAN!
So there I am, clutching two air horn looking contraptions to myself, trying to detach hoses while keeping them from falling to the floor, breaking the seal with my fingers (NEVER JUST PULL IT OFF!), taking off the suction cup thingys, and immediately covering the precious nectar of life, whilst it also drips into my lap. If Jim is anywhere near I request that he leave me be. Leave me alone with my shame.

Then there are lactation consultants. I have called them several times and I really do love them. They calm hysterical mothers down with the age old, "That is completely normal!" and of course, the ever reassuring, "You can do this." But I have been given the advice to pump while I feed Naomi to increase my milk supply. ....   ....  I'm sorry, what? I can't imagine adding a baby to the above scenario. Sometimes, Naomi eats like Animal the muppet, while riding a bicycle and playing the drums. Sometimes the highly commercialized pictures of mothers calmly and lovingly holding their little babies as they nurse, surrounded by an ethereal glow make me want to smash a mailbox.

But... I did it. I've done it. I used one arm to pump and one arm to hold her on AND lift her up to burp. I almost called Jim in to watch so he would be impressed with my new set of skills.

All this to say that it gets better. It really does. It is still getting better. And I realize that tonight she may decide to wake me up every hour to be fed. That next week she may decide to forget how to suck. I know that in 2 or so months, teeth will enter the picture and that's going to be a whole 'nother ballgame. But for now... it's better.


Meryl said...

This post made me cringe in discomfort, remembering the painful moments, and also laugh out loud! You captured the experience well. You truly are a good mom. Naomi is blessed. Love you!

Ted said...

Fun to read....not so fun to be so inspired. Yes....I read those FORBIDDEN words.....are grampas allowed to that?

pwp said...

Oh my goodness girl THAT was a descriptive funny discourse! But a true glad you maintain a sense of humor about it all.... Naomi is a blessed little girl.

Jessica said...

We should have talked during the early weeks, because I cried and dreaded and cringed every two hours as well. Add in a lovely dose of thrush (me, not her) and it made it more painful than childbirth. BUT, you are right, it gets better! Praise the Lord God of Israel, it does get better. Glad we persevered. :)

rachel tsunami said...

Amy, this is a treasure. But really, you'll read this years from now....

I remember employing all the pain management childbirth breathing techniques during early weeks of breastfeeding. focus...focus...focus...

And I have used them ever since for everything from a stumped toe to a broken hip.

caro said...

I feel your pain, truly! Thank you for the laughs. :)