MaternalMusing

A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

The Selfish Breast-feeder: What’s in It for Me? November 11, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 10:14 am
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Note: This post does contain pictures of a nursing baby. If this offends you then I’d recommend putting on some Netflix and carrying on!

Brace yourself! This isn’t another one of those blogs that goes on and on about how breastfeeding is the be all, end all of raising your new son or daughter. If you choose to nurse, awesome! If you choose to formula feed, right on! And if you choose to pump you straight up deserve a gold medal. We all have breastfeeding shoved in our faces on a pretty consistent basis as mothers and honestly I’m getting sick of it. It drives me crazy to hear uneducated harpies (#sorrynotsorry) pipe up in conversations, both IRL and online, with made up statistics and unhelpful admonishments. You know the ones that start ​with ‘Well only about 27% of women ACTUALLY have trouble producing enough’ and ‘Dark beer with help you up your supply!’? Yeah those… A note to those ladies: Quit selling your half-baked advice to fragile new mothers who think they’ve started off as a failure if they don’t take to nursing like a fish to water. You’re not helping anyone and really just seem to enjoy the sound of your own voice…

Perspective shot during a nursing session. You get the same angle bottle feeding btw...just in case you were worried!

Perspective shot during a nursing session. You get the same angle bottle feeding by the way…in case you were worried!

For V I pumped…and pumped…and pumped… so when I had A I knew there was no way in hell I could do that again. I set my goal to pump and try to transition to breast within three months or that kid was going to be getting his nutrients through whatever formula I could buy in bulk. As second time mom I felt empowered to make my own decision that would allow me to maintain a happy, healthy baby AND mother. So long as you have a full and sassy kid on your hands, however you choose to get there you’re doing the right thing.

He sure does...and formula...and really any type of food he can get in his mouth.

He sure does…and formula…and really any type of food he can get in his mouth. He’s not picky so long as he’s full.

Anyways as it turns out A was a champ. Switched to nursing like it was nothing and we settled into a great routine. I never had any mastitis, engorgement, blocked ducts, cracked nipples, etc. Honestly, and hate me if you want, it’s been awesome. But not because I’m providing that ‘Liquid Gold’ to my son. There are a host of other benefits that I’m revelling in, even at one year in. He’s still had a bottle of formula or two a week up until a year ’cause honestly Mom needs a break sometimes but let me fill you in. I’m a selfish breast-feeder. I do it more for my benefit honestly than his…and there are tons of upsides here. Check this out:

A) Cost

It’s free!! I didn’t have to pay to feed my kid for 6 months. I never even bought a nursing bra (giant waste of money…sports bras are a zillion times more comfortable and come in convenient 3 packs at Walmart). I did buy a cover and that was a mistake. Infants may be okay with cloth dangling on their face while they eat but try doing that with a 7-8 month old and see how fast it gets tossed on the floor.

B) Laziness

I hate cleaning bottles with the passion of a thousand suns. Seriously. Have you ever tried to clean out a bottle with gooey, caked, congealed formula at the bottom. The smell alone could clear the room. Also you need to buy bottles, a sanitizer, dishwasher rack, bottle scrubber, drying rack and be prepared to give up half your counter space to the various feeding gadgets. A’s feeding source came attached directly to me so…win!

C) Laziness Pt. 2

I didn’t have to get up to prep bottles at 3am. I literally grabbed the baby, lifted up my shirt and went back to sleep. Feeding my infant went from a 30 min production in the middle of the night to a drowsy, 15 min snuggle. Have you ever stumbled downstairs at midnight, in the dark and tried to measure the correct water to formula ratio while half-awake? It blows.

D) Space Saver

When I packed the diaper bag for V I always had to make sure I had pumped milk, knew how long it would be out of the fridge, etc. It was stressful and took up too much space. Plus when bottles spilled all over the inside of the bag, wiping out diapers and clean outfits, it was enough to pull my hair out. This time, when I left the house all I had to do was make sure I had a change of clothes, wipes and enough diapers to get back home again. No fuss, no mess, no stress! My food supply was kind of obligated to come along with us.

I refuse to live in a world where I'm the only source of nutrition for my kid! Although a bottle of water is less gross to clean than milk...especially if you forget!

I refuse to live in a world where I’m the only source of nutrition for my kid! Although a bottle of water is less gross to clean than milk…especially if you forget!

Now there are definitely some downsides to nursing as well. I can tell you more people have seen my rack in the last year than have in my entire 30 years before that. It bothered me to start but honestly at this point it doesn’t even phase me. I’m not someone to push my nursing on anyone else though. If I’m not at home I’ll usually leave the room or set myself away from the group after asking the host if they’re okay with me breastfeeding. I don’t think the fact that I’m lucky enough to nurse my child means that I have to become a warrior for a cause. Breastfeeding is like religion, it’s a personal choice and doesn’t need to be rammed down anyone’s throat.

Milk drunk. Infants make this face with a full belly, formula or breast milk.

Milk drunk. Infants make this face with a full belly, formula or breast milk.

I’ve also seen the differing reactions from family, friends and strangers now that I’ve reached the year mark. Those who tipped their hat to me about what a great service I was doing my child at 4 months suddenly ask, ‘Oh, you’re STILL nursing?’ I should be clear here that I’m not still nursing because I believe in extended breastfeeding (and it’s totally cool if you do). I’m actually actively trying to wean but A still enjoys the comfort and snuggle in the morning and before bed, so it is what it is. I’m going to take the fact that we’ve gone from 5-6 times a day to 1-2 as a victory here and find comfort in the knowledge that we’ll stop before a) he can actively remember it and b) before he can verbally ask for it or start pulling down my shirt in public. No free peepshows courtesy of my toddler thanks!

Gotta make sure Mom doesn't go anywhere...

Gotta make sure Mom doesn’t go anywhere…

In the interest of full disclosure, I did also have my days where I struggled with breastfeeding. Not because it was uncomfortable or hurt in any way. It was because I felt trapped. I’d literally be ‘touched-out’ by the end of the day and just want 30 mins of complete solitude where no-one was crawling all over me. I was A’s main source of nutrition so I couldn’t leave him for extended periods of time, go on a long weekend with my husband or even drink more than a glass or two of wine at a party or celebration. Also I’m not sure if I just have a slow metabolism or love food too much, but it’s also done absolutely zip for my post-pregnancy weight loss strategy. Those moms who say that they lost 50 lbs purely based on their boobs are full of crap.

Funny part of a breastfed kid? They'll literally try to nurse off of anything. Exhibit: A trying to nurse off the wall.

Funny part of a breastfed kid? They’ll literally try to nurse off of anything. Exhibit: A trying to nurse off the wall.

Another load of baloney that mothers are fed is that your bond with your child isn’t as strong if you don’t breastfeed. Hooey. I never nursed V and I love both my boys just as fiercely. How your child eats isn’t the basis for love and anyone who tries to sell you that load of garbage is obviously dealing with some serious issues of their own. Smile, nod, and walk away slowly.

Breastfeeding is a huge commitment. Not as big as pumping honestly, having done both, but still a pretty big deal. I was very proud that I’d managed to stick it out for a full year and I decided to celebrate reaching my goal by having some nursing pictures taken. We never did newborn pictures with A, like we did with V, and I wanted to do something special and unique to celebrate getting through the first year happy and healthy. I’m lucky that we know a very talented photographer who had no qualms about capturing what ended up being a very sweet moment between mother and child. The pictures honestly brought tears to my eyes, not because I’m breastfeeding, but because you can see such a strong bond in the pictures, something that’s hard to find words for. I’ll treasure them forever.

Courtesy of Grace Barnhart Photography.  Adore this.

Courtesy of Grace Barnhart Photography.
Adore this.

So in the end, breastfeeding is awesome and not for all those reasons the crazy mothers will drill into you. There’s definitely an upside for you in there but if it’s not what you want, then do what keeps you and your child happy and healthy! Just in case no-one has told you lately, you’re doing a great job, enjoy a virtual high five from me!

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Who Says Roommates Start In College?? V’s First Friend! April 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 8:53 pm
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After those first few days, as a new parent in the NICU and if you’re very lucky, you settle in to a somewhat uneasy routine. Your baby is stable, growing slowly, and you just show up every day and wait…and wait….and wait…

V had his umbilical line removed, was being fed lipids through his regular IV and had stopped receiving jaundice treatments. Basically we were just sitting by his bedside and watching him sleep. Preemies sleep a lot, more than regular newborns, and V would be awake for maybe 2 hrs a day. He was still on his ventilator, although the sprints were getting longer, and holding was kept to a couple of times a day to help minimize disturbances to the growing boy. To keep myself occupied I napped (sitting on a stool and leaning my head on my arms on top of a bedside table…thank you boring university classes for teaching me how to uncomfortably catnap anywhere!), read many trashy magazines since my mental capacities weren’t up for any extended or intellectual masterpieces, and just sat and stared at the baby. I made small talk with the nurses when they stopped in to check on V but the isolation made for some long, stressful days and I was always happy to see Andrew when he showed up after work.

V rocking the newborn cap and sleeping. His usual MO while in the NICU!

Luckily that week we were thrust into the unofficial NICU parent support system when V got his first of many roommates. A little girl in a ‘big girl’ crib (picture an ugly, white metal institutional type thing) took up the back corner of the front room and, although her parents were very quiet, it was nice to see other babies who were getting bigger and thriving under the nurses’ care.

The real surprise came the next day when I arrived in the NICU and received one heck of a shock. There was a baby in a plexiglass bassinet in the bay in the middle of the room! His tiny head was covered in the standard newborn cap and he was sleeping peacefully. Brand new mother that I was, I did a double take, was that my kiddo?? He looked an awful lot like him and so I actually had to check the name plate attached to the bassinet. Nope…not mine! Another new roommate for V! I guess swaddled and covered up babies all look pretty similar especially when they’re all about 3 lbs, wrinkly and sleeping. V was still in his full-on isolette next door, sleeping like a log.

The new baby’s name was Lucas and I had the pleasure of meeting his Mommy, Nicola, later that day. Suddenly my days in the NICU became a little more relaxed as we struck up a friendship based on our shared experiences with our boys. Nothing helps new Momma bonding like sharing birth stories, breastfeeding and sleep deprivation!

Actually, I had ‘heard’ about Nicola when I’d been admitted to Antenatal during the drama of my pregnancy. I had brought the book ‘Outlander’ with me to read and had struck up a conversation with my day nurse about it when she’d seen it in my bag. She had told me she’d recommended that very book to the Scottish lady in the room next door. Well, now I was on a first name basis with that same ‘Scottish lady’ and wishing I’d made her acquaintance earlier! We still keep in touch to this day and this past winter she has been doubly blessed as a Mommy with the birth of a healthy, full term baby girl!

Lucas was and still is an adorable and sweet-natured boy who was also dealt a rough hand in the beginning. He’s an incredible trooper and if I can convince his busy Mama (hint hint Nicola!) to share his story I will definitely put it as a separate entry. Their whole family continues to inspire me and I really hope they are able to share it with you!!

Talking with Nicola was a great stress-relief for me and helped us stay grounded throughout our time in the NICU. V and L kept to very similar milestones/sleeping and feeding patterns during their stay in the NICU which I think helped settle both of our minds that they were staying on the right curve. In the NICU you never want your kiddo to be the ‘special’ one….usually it’s not a good thing when they’re that fragile!

Even thought we haven’t been able to meet up as much as we’d like (or at least I’d like!) V and L are both thriving and adventurous little guys who still have remarkably similar taste in toys and food (if Facebook pics are anything to go by!). As horrible as the NICU experience was I do feel that it enriched our lives with the addition of a first buddy for V and a lasting friendship for a couple of first-time Mommies.

Now to wrap up this posting, Preemie Mommas everywhere can attest that, as soon as you start developing a support system of other NICU parents, your days get a little better. As nice as it is to talk to family and friends, unless they’ve been where you are it’s hard to really get a handle on what’s going on. I always got ‘So he’s just small?’ as the reply when explaining to others where V was. Ugh!

What those other NICU Mommies understood was that being a preemie encompasses so much more than size…it covers poor lung development, inability to regulate body temperature and oxygen levels, jaundice, susceptibility to life-threatening infections, hearing/sight/development delays, as well as the inability to summon enough energy to feed themselves. Each of these presents a world of possible complications and talking them over with other parents who know where your head is at makes them a little less scary. Think about it as similar to talking about a nightmare after you wake up in a cold sweat, it slays a few of the demons and lets you get back to sleep. Getting my frustrations and worries out to people who understood let me sit back and enjoy more of the time spent with my son, rather than spending my time thinking about all of the ‘what ifs’ that circle in your head. I can never thank those other Mommas enough for all of the generous support and giggles the provided during our experience even when their own little ones took up so much of their thoughts.