If you’re anything like me, you’ve had these grand notions of just how you’ll breastfeed once babe arrives. The two of you wrapped in each other’s warmth, and providing everything his or her bunny heart needs. You may have mapped out a schedule of feedings, and downloaded one of those fancy apps to tell you how long s/he nurses, which breast was used primarily.
After twenty-plus hours of labor, I finally met my bunny-babe, and all of my plans went out with the placenta (alas, I hadn’t researched the benefits of the placenta, and will do things differently if ever facing down the barrel known as the “placenta bucket.” More on this in another ‘momma musing’ post.). Terrified my babe was starving once apart from me, I immediately footballed him in my arms, trying to secure a healthy latch. When this failed, I switched to a front position, switched sides, switched hands, switched pillows, to no avail.
“We aren’t connecting,” I thought. And I was past devastated. Beyond mortified.
This, the most natural connection of all time, was simply not transcending. The nurses parading about the floors would throw in bits of advice, telling me not to fret about the first 48 hours–that the milk may not have come in to its fullest. But I could feel the tension within my breasts as much as I could in my wee lad weighing down my arms. Even Husband tried to offer support when not busy tossing/turning on his makeshift bed of ikea quality. But it didn’t help, nor did it sway my efforts. As if my emotions could scare off my milk supply, I kept silent and ever so gingerly kept at it.
“Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.”
The hours ran away in succession as they had during labor, and I still had yet to sleep. After some time, the lactation consultant on staff came to us. She bowed over my babe + I, in what was close to one of the only times in my life where I felt a sense of helplessness bigger than myself. For the outcome effected my newborn, not solely me. In fact, I recall all pronouns and names associated with my former self had vanished; I didn’t have time to look for them even if I wanted to. There I sat, swaddled in linens and pads to protect the bed, legs uncovered by fallen blankets from adjusting and readjusting, and my peaches on a plate (no matter how cute this is phrased, at least one breast will be on display 24/7) for the lactation consultant to squeeze.
And squeeze, she did.
With one look at us, her lobster hands seized the back of my newborn’s head and shoved him into my pinched breast. Stifling a cry, I looked down to see him start to gag, and immediately turned away from her grasp. She muttered something about getting on with it, but I lost her in my coo’s to my babe.
Mind you: my tale of such vulnerability is not to scare you off from something that could be the most sacred, the most trying, and the most rewarding experience you ever have with your wee ones. It’s a tale meant to inform, i.e. what I wish I would have known in the days and months after my babe arrived.
Having never been a natural at connecting with others, I should have assumed this too would not be a light, cakey affair. Yet, somewhere in between Husband snoozing and the nurses’ rounds, we connected. My frets, my fears, my foibles, were all for naught.
To conclude, just know that the time you have with your small mini-me’s is what you put into it, indeed. And I don’t regret one little bit of losing myself in the world that is breastfeeding for my babe’s first year. I was lucky enough to soak in his smells, his satisfying smiles after a solid night-time feed, when the house lay unmoved by the stomps of Husband, of dogs and cats, of well-wishing family. Hell, I miss it, even my everlasting leaky boobs.
If ever you’ve questions on breastfeeding, any at all, do not hesitate to reach out. I promise you that I will do my very best to address your concerns within a timely fashion.
P.S. One more
hilarious tip regarding those first few months: I was under the ridiculous notion that drinking tea of the lactating, milk-boosting variety made my milk all the more healthy, and had NO IDEA that it boosted my milk supply as well. For the first few months, I was engorged with milk! So, don’t be a duddy like me–simply sip those herbal, refreshing blends if need be instead of drowning in them (and thus milk) like me. Big gulps, my friends!