Before Wilder, I was focused on one thing. Pushing a watermelon out of my vagina. In my case, it was a large cantaloupe and it came out through an incision in my lower abdomen, but you get my drift. The birth was a little more overwhelming than whether or not I was going to figure out how to breastfeed so that’s where I focused much of my attention.
When I did think about breastfeeding, I sought advice from a fabulous lactation consultant. I asked her the only question that was really on my mind, “What if it doesn’t work for me? What if I don’t have any milk?” She said, “It will and you do. Go home and extract some. You’ll see.” Later that day, I called down to Tim, “Guess what? I have milk (actually it was colostrum)! Do you want to see?!” Like most curious husbands, he did want to see! I also felt relieved that if nothing else, I was producing colostrum.
But I still didn’t know if my baby would latch properly, if she would digest my milk, if my milk would actually come in, etc. But there was really nothing I could do to predict those things, so I didn’t worry about them. As it turned out, I got very lucky. When the nurse placed our naked, minutes-old Wilder on my chest (skin-to-skin), she immediately found my nipple and figured out how to use it. Wilder was the teacher and I was the student.
Enter the awesome world of breastfeeding.
I never imagined that I would spend hours each day with a baby attached to my chest. And I certainly never imagined that I would love it. But that’s precisely what has happened.
I feed Wilder ten or more times a day. She is still a little peanut. She needs to eat. It makes sense. We are currently in the phase of life where she sleeps, wakes, gets fussy, we change her diaper, she eats, and the cycle starts all over again. Since we are breastfeeding, that means my breasts are very important.
Tim calls them magic. They are the ace in the hole. If Wilder is fussing, offering her my breast is the one thing that calms her every single time. Don’t get me wrong, there was definitely a learning curve. I got painful scabs at first, I had to figure out the best latching positions, I had some blocked ducts. I called my sister and asked her what to do. She said, “Never stop feeding. The pain will go away. Just get through it.” She is old-school and hard-core, but she’s also had four kids, so I sort of had to listen!
Let’s talk about breasts for a minute. I was previously “unaware” of my breasts. They didn’t require much care. I barely even needed a bra for high-impact activities. Throughout my pregnancy they grew a bit, but nothing to write home about. I can’t say exactly when they changed, but whoa Nellie! They sure changed! First of all, they are different sizes. I have one robust C-cup (lefty) and one happy, little B-cup (righty). Wilder doesn’t discriminate. She’s happy with both! Secondly, to quote an earlier blog commenter, “Nursing boobs are not good exercise boobs.” I agree. This means I need a real workout bra for the first time in my life. It’s time for Skirt Sports to get into the bra business! Finally, I know I need to enjoy ’em while I have ’em, because when I’m done breastfeeding, they will evolve into a different set of breasts yet again!
Back to breastfeeding. Little Wilder has some interesting habits. She can be quite a loud snacker. This is very interesting when I am feeding her at a restaurant or in a more public setting. I always use a nursing cover, but it’s still hard to miss the loud sucking, grunting and occasional smacking noises. It’s also hard to miss the feet that are sticking out the side of my body, so hopefully people put it together and are not offended. So far I have breastfed in restaurants, coffee shops, Target, Whole Foods, my car, and a park. Next week I hope to try the movie theater! By the way, Boulder is a VERY breastfeeding-friendly town, so I’m incredibly lucky. Many of you are not experiencing the same welcome response. If you have any breastfeeding-in-public stories that you want to share, please do!
At some point, I need to start pumping and storing milk, as I anticipate returning to work and sending Wilder to some form of daycare. Since she is currently breastfeeding so frequently, I have no idea when I will be able to actually get ahead of the milk-curve. I’m hoping it will just happen, but hope is not a great strategy, so any feedback you have on this will be most appreciated.
Of course daycare philosophies and how the hell I plan to go back to work are both future blog entries in themselves. I can only think about one thing at a time. Right now, I’m thinking about the gut-wrenching ache in my breasts. I think is must be dinnertime!