Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On Breastfeeding

*I actually wrote this earlier this evening before heading out, and didn't have time to edit it before getting home.  Once home I noticed the announcement about the Target nurse-ins going on across the country tomorrow and address my thoughts in this in the end.  

Breastfeeding was the one thing I dreamed about doing, of holding a baby in my arms and cuddling with them while they nursed, that hurt the most when I thought we were unable to have children.  Yes, I could adopt a child and do most of the things you do with a child you give birth to, but breastfeeding is nearly impossible in that situation.  So it was the one thing I have absolutely been determined to do with Nora.  When one doctor made the suggestion that we might need to supplement with formula at the end of each feeding to help her jaundice I got steely, and was grateful when the doctors at Johns Hopkins all told me that we weren't at a point where that would be a suggestion yet.

I had heard horror stories from so many people about the nipple pain, about engorgement, about leaking and trouble making enough milk.  And I'm not sure if it's I just got lucky or if I planned so well for anything and made sure I read up to know what I was doing, but I haven't really experienced any of that.  My nipples get a little tender when I'm full and they're hard, almost as if they're having to strain to keep everything in.  And I've had soaked breast pads, and one shirt that had a nice circle on it because I got overly full.  But I took a breastfeeding class, I bought the book that is considered the most comprehensive, I got a nursing pad set that has thin ones for day and thick cushy ones for night, and I've never had trouble making enough, even for my chunky monkey.

We struggled in the beginning to find the right positions for us.  A wonderful nurse helped me figure it out, and gave me suggestions for sites she'd found helpful with her own breastfeeding (http://kellymom.com).  And since then we've been great.  The position of lying down that worked best when we were learning is still my favorite, but I now find I can hold her in one arm and walk around the house getting things done without much trouble at all.  She's gotten to the point where she knows how to keep herself on the breast.  And the best part has to be that she can be having a holy fit because she's hungry, but as soon as we get her in a position she's used to, or if she sees a breast at all, she goes instantly silent, her eyes widen and she waits patiently.  It's pretty funny.

Yesterday we had just sat down at the cafe at Barnes and Noble, when Nora awoke.  It was quickly evident she was starving and ready to cry if she didn't get fed.  I got nervous.  Normally we'd leave and I'd feed her in the back of the car before we drove off, but it was the day after Christmas and cars were full of cranky people who would be pissed if we got in our car and didn't pull out immediately.  And while I had a nursing cover, the last time I tried it, it was a fail. Still, I decided to give it a whirl, and it worked perfectly so I sat there feeding her while we enjoyed our coffee and conversation.

I know not everyone has an easy time of nursing.  I know women with soreness that I've recommended things to.  But I look at this thing, this bonding I get with her, the savings (and apparent safety) of not having to buy formula, and I don't understand why the majority of women don't breastfeed.  It's a well known fact that breastmilk is the perfect food for a baby, which is why Johns Hopkins advocates for it so much.  And it's very much more common throughout the world.  I just wish more women here would not just give it a go, but make sure they have the resources in case it's not going well.  It's not supposed to hurt, though it will feel weird, and maybe uncomfortable at first.  If you don't have someone telling you that and making suggestions I could see how it would be easy to give up.  But it's been one of the most amazing experiences, so I'm writing this all down for Miss Nora to read later.

As for the nurse-in.  I know some people think it's attention seeking, and honestly I didn't give it much thought, and don't have plans to go.  However, it is about attention...attention that is greatly needed.  Breasts are for feeding a baby.  It is their biological purpose.  The reason men are attracted to them, is because biologically men are searching for women who they can procreate with, and who can feed their children well.  I do not think women should have to be covered, and in most states that is a right protected by the law. 

I have now nursed at IKEA too.  I used a cover because I'm new to nursing and have an easily distracted baby.  However, I know as handsy as she is that the time will soon come when she will pull the cover off, because she's annoyed or gets hot (the thing does raise my body temp, somewhat uncomfortably).  At which point I have every intention of continuing to nurse in public, with my breast out...and by out I mean, baby attached, whereas even at her young age, nothing shows.  G has laughed and said "God help the person who tries to tell you to cover up."  I may be a new mom, but I am not easily intimidated.  It is my right to nurse, covered or uncovered in public, any place I am legally allowed to be. 

I have heard the argument that it is immodest, or that the person speaking doesn't want their son to see it.  To that I say you need to get over it.  It is only immodest if you have become the twisted sort who only sees breasts as a sexual organ.  And quite frankly, I think more boys and men need to be exposed to breasts as a tool for feeding a baby.  It would be seen as more "normal" if we as a society had not overly sexualized so much about women. 

The nurse-in is to advocate for a baby's right to eat in public, and to not have a person harassed for doing so (though I agree she should not have been sitting in an aisle...that's just dangerous with the way people shop at Target, never looking where they're going).  It is also to continue to educate the public about breastfeeding, and to help it stop being so taboo.  And to that I add my applause. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Almost a month old.  I can't believe it.  I want time to freeze, for your sweet serene way of being to just keep going.  You smile often now, your eyes lighting up.  And your daddy finally caught you laughing the way your Gigi does in her sleep.  He delights in all the new things you seem to do daily.

You're getting better about finding your binky when it falls out.  When you can't, though, watch out!  You get frantic, your head shaking back and forth and your hands flying.  You get angry at that quite easily. 

Tonight we took a bath.  I sat there and submerged you up to your armpits and you were content, the first bath that wasn't a screamfest.  I think we're going to get you a special sort of baby bath that allows you to sit up like that, comfy. 

I am constantly in awe of you.  I love to talk to you, mainly because for some reason you've decided I'm your favorite person in the world, and will look at me and calm down.  You're very alert (when you're awake) and seem to enjoy having us chat with you. 

I hope you always know how much of a wonderment you are to us.  How much you have changed our life together for the better. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12 Days Old

I want you to be able to read this someday, to know what you were like when you were super little.  So here goes.  At 12 days old:

* You are a breastfeeding champ.  You will make it very known when you have decided you would like to eat, but not in a screaming way.  You root around like no other and will mouth the nearest body part or piece of clothing. 

* You don't really mind diaper changes any more (probably because thanks to the hospital you've had so many).  In fact, if you're asleep enough, we can manage to change you without waking you. 

* You love, love, love kisses.  If we make noises as we come closer and then give you a smackeroo on the lips you seem to delight in it and will turn more towards us.  I just recorded a video of you and your daddy for you later.

* You prefer to sleep on my chest during the day, and in the nook of my arm at night.  At first it terrified me and was accidental.  But now we've got a simple set up that makes us rolling onto you or you moving much impossible.  And we all seem to wake more well rested than when you were startling every few minutes all night and waking just enough to wake us. 

I feel super blessed because honestly it feels like it's been too easy.  The breastfeeding had a slight learning curve, but it's otherwise been easy and painless.  The diaper changes go quickly, like machine work.  You're happy 99% of the time and rarely fuss for more than a few seconds (and you self soothe most of the time).  Basically Daddy and I are thinking we must be super lucky. 

Which is nice, since we've decided you're our favorite thing ever. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I love this man who sits before me. Who walks with you for 45 minutes while I get some doctor ordered, desperately needed sleep. This man who gave me you and all the joy that comes from being the three musketeers.

Your daddy is in awe of you. He nuzzles into you declaring that he loves the scent of you. He loves the softness of your skin and the scrunchiness of your face. He holds you close and says he's trying to make sure his scent is calming to you.

I found God's grace in the failings of our relationship. Where forgiveness was given even when undeserved. He had a plan. Even if at the time it felt like fire burning us we were instead being crafted into better people.

I found God's love when He gave us the biggest surprise...you. When all my broken dreams were made whole again. When I was made unbroken. He took 6 months of us being apart and remolded my heart to fit better above you and gave it an extra dose of peace. To prepare me to see this man I love and know Him better.

I love this man because he loves you and because He loves us enough to have made us 3 a family. I hope you know how loved you are. And that someday you too find all of this joy.
I am overwhelmed with love for you.  Absolutely punch drunk in love.  I keep saying, "I love her." and "She's ours." as I look at your daddy.  Who whispers, "I know, isn't she perfect?" 

And you are.  You are everything good and joyful in this world.  Even in the hospital you were easy, sometimes sleeping through the heel pricks if I'd fed you right before hand.

You are an enthusiastic eater, sometimes emptying one side, and then within minutes demanding more.  And you drink until you are what we call "milk drunk" dozing off into a dreamland I can only imagine.  You smile in your sleep, and the dimple on your right side is so deep I just want to smother you with kisses. 

Christmas is coming, and you are every gift I've ever wanted.  You are more than enough for every Christmas past and present and I am delighted to be your mama.  I love you.