This is part of PAILs’ monthly theme post (Pregnancy After Infertility and Loss). You can see other posts on this theme by clicking here.
During my fairly disastrous pregnancy, my least favourite doctor ever, herein known as Dr North Korea for his open, fair minded and democratic approach to patient care (all sarcasm intended)… Well he very kindly told me I’d never be able to breastfeed. Call it a combination of what he saw as likely insanely complicated birth, the complications after gestational diabetes, and my PCOS, he didn’t exactly give me a big thumbs up on the issue.
Of course, he was a complete dick.
The thing is, when you’ve waded through all that crap, all that infertility crap, all that lets lay in bed for 16 weeks while we bleed to death crap, you know, you kind of feel it would be nice is something went how it should go. So birth and breastfeeding? Hell yeah, they’re pretty important. They can feel like your entry ticket back into a vaguely normal motherhood.. Remove them, and you feel like a parenting gig gatecrasher who just managed to jump the fence when the bouncers weren’t looking.
So, lets just say it was important to me.
I made sure I was really well researched on the how to’s of breastfeeding prior to giving birth, combining the hospital classes with calm birth, and also attending a hospital specific session on breastfeeding. I joined the breastfeeding association so I knew the support was there, I watched you tube videos, I borrowed library books and bought others.
My expected”disastrous birth” was a dream run. Skin to skin within about 15 seconds, breastfeeding within the first hour. Insane oversupply issues at first that took ages to settle down, and issues with bub falling asleep on the job for several days.
I set my expectations nice and low, and just tried for six weeks of breastfeeding at first. I was as strict as strict with attachments, sometimes correcting the jman six times before I’d let him nurse, handing him off to dad for a resettle before attempting again if he got really silly, seeing the lactation consultant three or four times in the hospital for pointers and supervision of feeds. I decided I was not getting any nipple damage, I was just going to be really picky with him in how he attaches, it was my first parenting “no kid, this is how you do it” and I took it seriously.
Once my milk came in he started to pay serious attention and we kicked ass. I still had my afternoons of falling asleep wearing cabbage leaves, an occasional public leak, a particularly memorable detach in a sushi cafe as I sprayed across the table (oh, the humanity).
My six week target changed to three months, my three months to six, my six to a year, and here we are, still going strong a few times a day. What can I say, he’s a boob man. I went from days of googling facilities and looking for baby rooms to whipping it out wherever we were.
I spent nothing on feeding jman, apart from $20 on bottles for expressing, and all the freaking extra food i needed (!!!!) til he was five months old. Breastfeeding hunger is scary hunger…
At first, the idea of being that tied down to another person that often terrified me and made me feel like the walls were closing in. Later, I couldn’t imagine feeding him any other way.
what I didn’t get
I didn’t understand that feeds got quicker and easier as he got older. That at first, you structure everything in your life around feeds, and later, they are shorter than a cup of coffee and I complain bitterly if they take longer than six minutes now. Jman is a guts.
I didn’t understand that two hourly feeds meant you only got an hour “off”, because the feed, change, settle cycle takes an hour at first.
I didn’t understand that two hourly feeds don’t actually occur every two hours, but that they can “cluster” happening very frequently for a few hours, followed by a long sleep.
I didn’t understand that night feeds can not only lonely and annoying, but that they can also be this perfect time of absolute focus, bonding, and tranquility that you will always treasure.
I didn’t understand that laying down and feeding in bed didn’t have to just be “omg what about the SIDS risk”, it could also just be a really nice way to chill out, and I should probably just breathe a bit more.
It doesn’t matter if you breast or bottle feed, or what you choose to do, but it mattered to me that I got to feed the jman how I wanted to.
It matters to me that my jman got the best possible start.
It matters to me because I was never breastfed ( my mother had problems with psoriasis and needed to focus on fixing that, and was also, like me, an older mother who didn’t think she had it in her to feed her fourth child)…and it is possible this affected my adult health with insulin resistance issues my breastfed siblings never faced….
I never thought I’d be into “extended breastfeeding” , but when our paediatrician yesterday suggested we could switch to cows milk I almost laughed in his face! Talk about old school. Get with the programme, doc.
My hardest choice is those two frozen embryos, a ticking clock, and knowledge I’d have to fully wean to IVF again…and I can’t do it. I can’t artificially impose a breastfeeding deadline on my little guy.
He’s a boob man, and I wouldn’t have him any other way.