Monday, February 13, 2006

Somehow everything still revolves around my breasts

While I was folding laundry the other day I noticed that my nursing tank-tops are starting to look a little ragged. They've been washed and dried so many times that they're starting to fray at the edges. I really should replace them. But I can't bring myself to buy new ones. I am, after all, thinking about trying to wean the Child soon.

If you would have told me a year ago that I would be still be nursing the her well into her 10th month I would smiled and said "How wonderful!" while I was looking for the phone number of the local psychiatric hospital to have you committed to. But here we are, Julia will be 10 months at the end of this week and we're still going strong. My half-hearted attempts at weaning her are going nowhere and that doesn't really bother me. I can see us nursing on her 1st birthday. Who woulda thunk?

Before the Child was born I had every intention of breastfeeding her. Not that I had much choice since I married into a family of breastfeeding Nazis. Seriously. Those are my husband's and my sister-in-law's words, not mine. My Mother-in-law was a La Leche League leader way back in the early 70's and my Sister-in-law, the Doctor, well there was no question that she was going to breastfeed because she's perfect and does no wrong. The Hubby is pro-nursing all the way even if he does try to jockey for position when the Child is eating from time to time.

You would think that this would make the whole experience easier and enjoyable. I mean, how many women would love to have that much guidance and support from their family? But, noooo. Breastfeeding was a complete nightmare for me for the first four months. You read it right. FOUR MONTHS. There were the usual problems like soreness, cracking, and pain (oh my God the pain). Then there was Colic, the Child's need to eat every hour, and the Great Bottle Strike of 2005 from month 3 to 5 when it was All Mama All The Time and Nothing But Mama. Add to those things the fact that I had at least 5 breast infections, one that required me to miss work (yes, I went back to work for a short period of time. That's another story for another day.) because I felt like Mike Tyson had punched me in the chest and I had a 103 degree fever and a migraine that could have killed a horse. But ultimately it was the "support" that almost did me in.

When you're suffering and ready to give up and you're second-guessing everything you're doing with this new little person the last thing you want is someone telling you that breastfeeding is the most natural and wonderful thing in the world. What you really want, okay what I really wanted, was someone who would tell me that sometimes nursing sucks.

No pun intended.

Well, maybe intended a bit.

It sucks like someone rolling over your foot with their car sucks. Or like hitting your funny bone over and over again sucks. I really wanted to hear, from someone who had gone through it, that even though it was so bad at the time it would eventually get better. I wanted to see that light at the end of the tunnel. But what I got was my Mother-in-law telling me how wonderful it was when she was nursing her two kids (thoughts of the Hubby I didn't want in my head at that time). I got words of advice like "If you're doing it right it shouldn't hurt." When an "expert" tells you this you tend to believe it even though now I think its complete hogwash. The Hubby, unfortunately, made it worse by trying to be my Cheerleader. "You're doing great, honey! Keep it up" are not the words you want to hear at 3am when you're trying to decide which breast to give your screaming infant.

Hmmm, should I go with the cracked one or the cracked and bleeding one? Decisions, decisions.

All these sentiments, though misguided at times, were said with love and the best of intentions. As the months went on I tuned them out and listened to myself. Through sheer stubbornness I got through the tough months and it did get a lot better. Now I can't imagine not nursing the Child and its even harder to imagine giving it up. I gave her life and sustained her. I am the only one who can calm the Savage Beast when she's missed her nap. And there is nothing better than having an excuse to go sit in a warm, dark room with the little person you love most in this world and have her hand reach up and caress your face. We still have our battles but the good far outweighs the bad.

Maybe I should just bite the bullet and buy some new nursing tanks. This could go on for awhile.


Anonymous said...

That's so funny, it totally reminds me of this post of mine:

I too had so much trouble and got so discouraged especially when they say "3 weeks" are the hardest. Try all 6 months! Yeah nobody warned me that I would literally end up eating just turkey and rice for months (food allergie1s). Yeah they left that part out!

Glad to hear it grew on you and you are planning to keep on trucking. Me too!

Christina said...

Wow, what a story! But congrats for making it so long!

We gave up after four months of lackluster nursing and supplementing with bottles, so I understand the struggle.