Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Breastfeeding: The Internal Struggle

I believe in child-led weaning and nursing until at least the age of 2. However, when M self-weaned at 17 months old I did not put up a fuss or encourage him to continue. Why was this? I really do not know other than I was young and working full-time. I knew there would be other babies and more nursing. Also M was never a comfort nurser. He was an efficient drain the boob, get off and get busy with other things kind of babe. He didn't nurse lazily and stare into my eyes and make it an intense bonding experience for us. Nope he wanted his milk and he wanted it fast in a no-nonsense kind of way. Maybe that's why that nursing relationship was so easy for me to let go. I am hypothesizing that my current relationship with D my daughter will be much different. She was a natural nurser from the start we got started within the hour of her birth and we have not looked back.

I had many obstacles to overcome with M, NICU, poor latch, mastitis, oversupply. My mother in law and midwife gave me 2 pieces of advice that kept me going during this difficult time. My mother in law said "just give it 6 weeks that's what it takes". It was true that we had most of the kinks worked out by then. My midwife said "his mouth will grow and your breast will not". So true and so obvious but I needed to hear it. During my RN education we were taught that with a proper latch breastfeeding SHOULD NOT HURT. Well.... it. hurt. with M, and with D. I have learned newborns are voracious little creatures that will get what they want even if they have to suck your nipple right off. This is not a comfortable experience no matter what anyone tells you or at least it was not for me. Mastitis is the MFer of all flu's. It's like having a raging flu and hten having someone insert razor blades into your breasts and nipples. Add on top of that a newborn baby and postpartum hormones. You are in for one hell of a ride. I got through it with quark cheese and a professional grade pump. After the first 6 weeks things became more comfortable and more relaxed. I found my nursing groove. There were still bumps in the road but they were surmountable.
My internal struggle would be my fantasy of being the ideal attachment parenting mama who never needs to leave her baby. However I NEED to get out, get away. This need often makes me feel guilty when I satisfy it especially since D hates the bottle. If I satisfy my need I am neglecting hers. When I try to get a few hours uninterrupted sleep and H has to use the paci to satisfy D instead of what she truly wants (the breast) I am satisfying my need at the expense of hers. It's a delicate balancing act, trying to keep my needs met and hers as well. It feels like they are often in direct conflict. While it may seem great to be so needed by another sometimes I feel so trapped. Other times I feel warm and fuzzy when she is latched and trying to fish hook her toes into my nose. So you see it's a struggle at times but not one I would willingly give up.

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