Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reclaiming My Body - this is for nursing mom past and present


I know it seems like a weird title, but in truth, I have spent the last few months doing just that. I have been "Reclaiming My Body", I was a breastfeeding mom for two years and I nursed Lizzie too when she was a baby until she was twenty months.
Now I enjoyed nursing Beka, and I loved the bond of nursing Elizabeth, although not the actual process itself with the first child. It was nice to listen to the girls glug away as them got the important stuff they needed. I am all for breastfeeding, it is good for you, good for your baby and it is supposed to make your kids smarter - which my kids needed the extra push anyway (just kidding). I loved snuggling them close to me and how they would fall asleep after their pretty little tummies were full. I loved to smell them and listen to their individual noises - Lizzie always cracked me up as she would begin to hum/snack at the same time - mmmmmm . . . .mmmm. . . mmmmmm. . . mmmmm . . . This would continue for several minutes as if she were humming herself to sleep and in a rhythm no less. Beka made similar noises, but hers had their own rhythm and cadence as well. I especially love that fresh clean baby smell. It's the best smell in the world.
Now that I've said all that, I also should point out that I am positive I am done having children, because as much as I enjoyed all of those things, I don't think I have it in me to go through pregnancy again. More importantly, I like that my breasts are now my own again and my hormones are starting to thankfully level out again so I feel like a real person again.
I have several friends who are still having babies and some who have just had babies and of course, we all talk about breastfeeding, because most of them try and succeed or at least try. Sadly, they all have the same problem - low milk supply so they pump and they do what they have to in order to up their milk. I cannot say I would have loved to have that problem, but I would absolutely been more thrilled, had I produced maybe a little less milk.
You know that scene in the film, "Look Who's Talking?" where Kirstie Alley is staring at her chest in the movie and wondering how it happened and making comments - well I've been her. I was told with Elizabeth that I should expect my milk to come in within the first three to five days. I had her on Wednesday and Sunday morning I woke up to the Grand Teton on my chest. Chris ever the loving husband he was, commented about liking it - while I wondered, where the Grand Teton's supposed to spurt out milk? Of course, we didn't have a breast pump - we were young, stupid and didn't know I'd need one. So my loving husband ran out to grab one. I spent hours pumping with the hand held pump and I expressed a full bottle on each side - after I nursed Lizzie. Of course, as time went on, the milk supply dimished to what Lizzie needed. Thank Heavens, but until that happened I spent many hours hand pumping milk - I could have ended third world hunger with the amounts of milk I expressed. It was insane.
Then we had Rebekah (the cutie in the photo at the top) and I thought I was ready for the insurgence of milk that came. As it turned out, I was not prepared to wake up engorged and sore with cannon balls attached to my chest. God bless my husband and his pointed head, he wanted to touch them! I almost killed him - especially when he asked me why I was so crabby. Gee I don't know honey, it might have been because my chest felt like I had 2 tons sitting on it and Beka couldn't eat enough to sate the aching in them. And I had a doctor's appointment that day to check on my blood pressure. Chris, the good man he is who probably also valued his life stopped at the mall first and bought me a Medela. I love the Medela - it is my friend. Sadly it had to stay in the car whilst I got the blood pressure checked. So we sped home - after he asked if I wanted lunch I think I didn't kill him because he was driving and I needed to get home and pump - otherwise, he may have met his maker that day.
I never knew it could be such a pleasurable thing to drain your breasts. Honestly, it was almost better than being intimate with Chris. I have never been so relieved to do anything in my life. I pumped 8 oz off each side AFTER I fed Beka! It stayed like that for quite a while too - it didn't taper off for months. In retrospect that proved a good thing - it meant that I was able to have plenty of milk for Chris and the sitter while I was in college.
I also didn't enjoy feeling like a milk cow. One time when Lizzie was small I had just finished in the shower and was standing by the bed when she crawled up to me and latched on and began nursing - I looked at Chris and remarked, "Look honey, I'm a crawlthru." He thought it was hilarious, and enjoyed joking that I was the food supply. Then again we always joked that Lizzie was never happy til she had her morning cup of boob. We found funny names for it, like boobin' or getting the good stuff. Actually the "good stuff" stuck around so much with Beka that no matter how I tried to teach her to call it a cookie or something else, she actually would tell me she wanted "Good".
I enjoyed nursing both girls (more Beka than Lizzie but I was more of a pro with Beka so it was smoother getting started), but I also have enjoyed reclaiming my breast for myself again. It's nice to put on a bra and not worry if I can give Beka access to my breasts. It's nice to not worry about leaking milk in public. I also must admit, I don't miss letdown and if you've ever nursed you remember the feeling of millions of pinpricks going through your breasts like when your foot falls asleep and it's got blood recirculating through it. I don't miss not being enthused at the idea of letting Chris touch my chest, because I could start leaking.
However, I will add there are certain perks with breastfeeding. Like, bonding with your baby, but I am also talking about the ability to be a bit mischevious. When I was nursing Lizzie and my milk first came in, Chris was laying on the floor watching TV while I pumped and so I would periodically squirt the back of his neck. It took him 30 minutes to realize what I was doing. It was perfect, I enjoyed that moment a lot. I also enjoyed knowing that because I nursed that Chris had to hand me the babies at some point in time when he wasn't working, but even then if he could have nursed, I would never have been able to hold the girls. He was gaga over them from the moment they were born. He's a great husband and father - even when he does make me nuts.
I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving.
In Christ,
Maureen

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