Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Land of Milk and Honey

I've been meaning to post about this, and with the recent brouhaha, it seems especially timely.

I loved nursing. Absolutely loved it. Pi was great at it from day one, and we had a great postpartum nurse, Laura, who stayed with us for over an hour while he fed and made sure our mechanics were right. Even though I worried incessantly (of course) about my supply, his latch, his weight gain, the length of time he spent on each boob, etc, etc, etc, deep down I knew it was the only thing that was going according to plan. I loved the time that it gave us together, I loved that my body was able to nourish a little human - it was a wonderful experience.

If you're getting a sense of how much I loved nursing, amplify that sense by about 86 bazillion, and reverse it into pure, unadulterated hate. That's how I felt about pumping. Even though I knew it was for a good cause, and I had it so easy with the 100% support of my employer, it was a godawful chore and I hated it. I was never really able to pump enough to sustain Pi on a boob-juice-only diet. He had a couple of bottles of formula a week from about 7 months on, and about one a day when I went back to traveling for work. In March, I was away for five nights, and even though I flagellated myself with that confounded medieval torture device the whole time, my supply never recovered. Our last nursing session was the morning before his first birthday, and then we weaned cold turkey. We didn't wean because he was ready, we weaned because I just didn't feel like I could keep it going. To his credit and true to his easygoing style, Pi took it like a champ. He was mainly a nutrition nurser, and rarely nursed for comfort alone, so I don't think it affected our bond or made him feel unsteady. I just wish he could have rejected me outright in his own time.

Ah, well, I can "woulda coulda shoulda" myself into a rubber room, but the fact is that my boy loves his cow's milk, is healthy and thriving, and seems none the worse for wear in the absence of nip. I wanted to breastfeed, I was lucky enough to have a relatively easy time of it, and I did what I could for almost a year. I'm sure there are a million things that'll haunt me about my parenting decisions with Pi, I'm going to try not to let this be one of them.

This whole kerfuffle about the magazine cover, though - gah! I never thought twice about nursing in public, and no one said boo to me or even threw a dirty look my way. The only issue I had was when my father-in-law and his wife (Smitty's stepmother) came to visit while we were still in the hospital, during Pi's first crucial days of learning to latch. He definitely got an eyeful, but I wasn't going to compromise my kid's mealtimes just because someone might witness a nip-slip. I thought nothing of it until Smitty's stepmother covered me during a session. Luckily, I didn't allow myself to dwell too heavily on it and kept focusing on Pi.

Whenever I think we've come a long way as a society, something like this magazine craziness happens and I'm abruptly reminded that there are still many miles to go.


lauralu said...

thanks for coming by our blog to adore milo. :) i'm glad to hear breastfeeding was such a positive for you - it gives me hope i can do it for a year, too!

Cheek said...

Yay - I'm so honored that you're my first commenter! From what you've written, it sounds like Milo has had a great start, and in my experience that was key. Every drop of breast milk he gets is wonderful, so try not to agonize if you do have to supplement. I spent a lot of time beating myself up over every ounce of formula, and I wish I hadn't.

Beth said...

Hey Cheek! I'm visiting from Tertias and I loved this post. I also loved nursing and hated pumping. But I was lucky enough to spend quite a few months at home with both boys due to being laid off after I had each of them so I nursed #1 for a year till he decided bottles were much more portable but number 2 was *attached* so we nursed till he was about 2 1/2. As much as I loved it, I was really ready to be done after 2 and a half years!

Cheek said...

Thanks, Beth! So glad that there was such a great silver lining to your layoff.

changapeluda said...

I'm a little on the flip side.
I am a self admitted Bad Weaner.

My little guy is 4 days older than yours (5/18/05) and I cannot get him to stop :)

To his credit, he picks the wee small hours in which to become a tittymonger....1:30am, 3am and again @4:30am or so....
You don't know how lucky you are that Pi took to it(weaning) like a champ

Mine is more Chomp (hee hee hee)

changapeluda said...

On the nip-slip tip:

I am usually modest about my body, never was one of those girls in gym class who could just let it all hang out

But once I started nursing (16 yrs ago!) I became a shameless hussy and could whip one out quicker than a cat could wink an eye ;)

Cheek said...


Yes, those babes do make exhibitionists of us, don't they?