OK, so you knew it was bound to happen...a blog about breastfeeding. Now if you are a breastfeeding fanatic you can stop reading now...if you do continue to read, no judgements please...
So yes, I am nursing Emily. All of you La Leche Leaguers can rest easy. But to truly understand my breast feeding experience we need to go back to the beginning, way back to when Sara was born. I went into the hospital without a real birth plan. Let me take that back, I did have a plan; get the baby out by any means necessary with the absolute least amount of pain. Now many of you may think that is the easy way out...that one does not truly experience the joys of child birth unless you do it naturally. I am totally calling radishes on that...any TMZ fans will know what I am talking about! I had to have an ingrown toenail removed while pregnant. Due to the pregnancy I was only allowed half of the numbing medication. It hurt so bad… I came this close to kicking the podiatrist in the face. If a toenail fragment the size of a grain of rice hurt that bad coming out what the hell would a baby about 15,237 times bigger than a grain of said rice feel like coming out? Then and there I decided to go all in with whatever pain medication was offered me during labor. But I digress...so back to the breastfeeding...I had the same open mind when it came to nursing. If it worked great, if it didn't whatever, there is always formula. As I mentioned in a past post I have had "some work done", some plastic surgery, a boob job if you will. Now, not the traditional boob job you are thinking of...I had a breast reduction when I turned 30. I know most girls dream of having a large chest. I was no different. As a tween I hoped that my niblets would start to grow...well my dream came true and my body just kept on dreaming...they never stopped growing. The flippin' things were so big I looked like something out of a National Geographical special. When I couldn't stand them anymore I went under the knife and had a pound and a half taken off each side… truth be told they are still way too big but not much I can do about it now. So back to Sara, despite knowing the reduction would decrease the chance I would be able to successfully breastfeed I decided to try it anyway. What did I have to lose? Apparently only my sanity it would turn out. I spent 5 weeks trying to feed my baby the "natural" way. I thought I was doing it right, she would latch on... suck, swallow and breathe...great. Or so I thought, turns out she was starving. Nothing was coming out!! We realized that in the hospital...she became dehydrated and was crying non-stop. So the lactation consultant had me tape a feeding tube to my boob and I would squirt formula through the tube to feed her. Yeah, that is real natural. I literally went insane as I tried to be the perfect mom. I was hooked up to that stupid pump every two hours round the clock. If I stuck to that rigid schedule I was able to pump a whopping 1-2 ounces by the END OF THE WEEK!!! I was so obsessed with pumping I hardly got dressed...more often than not I would wander the house in a pumping stupor wearing nothing but mesh undies. I am still shocked Chuck and I survived that period. He is a good man to still be married to me…a good man! After 5 weeks and only 1 full bottle I gave up the idea of nourishing my child from my own body. Formula it was. Of course Sara had other issues and she needed a special formula that cost more per month than our car payment, but that is another post for another time.
Along comes Anna so I try again knowing full well it was in vain. The lactation consultant had me start pumping in the hospital. I knew it was all for nothing so I half assed it. But wait, what is that? Milk? No way!! I was able to successfully nurse her until she was 11 months old. Since I was new to this whole nursing thing I was naïve when it came to nursing pads, pumping and leaking. I hated nursing pads. I felt like I was stuffing a communion wafer into my bra and the circle shape was so obvious underneath my shirt I decided they weren’t worth the trouble. That was until I started a new job after my maternity leave. Anna was 12 weeks old when I started working in the NICU. I was still nursing her. I was about 3 days into the new job…I didn’t know anyone…I was throwing caution to the wind and going sans breast pads and just letting my freak flag fly. There are lots of babies in the NICU. There are lots of crying babies in the NICU. Are you starting to pick up what I’m putting down? Yup. I leaked. Not a little…A LOT! I had a light blue shirt on with these huge dark blue wet spots right on my boobs. I was horrified. This was NOT the impression I wanted to make with my new co-workers. Thank God for the yellow gowns. I stuffed some toilet paper in my bra and slapped on one of the yellow gowns before anyone could notice. Now, you are probably thinking why didn’t I just take care of business and pump? Well, that is easy. On my first day one of the kind nurses set me up with a pumping kit. I put it in my new locker and locked it safely away. It is, to this day, 4 years later still locked in there. I lost the slip of paper with the combination on it and I was too embarrassed to say anything. I think I might even have a brand new toothbrush, deodorant and some gum in there. Now I just feel too stupid to say anything about the lock. I did bring my own pump from home one day during the 8 hour orientation. I went into someone’s office to pump at lunch time. I get the pump all ready and take my bra off. I turn to the side to get something and my boobs release. I spray milk all over the desk, computer keyboard and shelf…it kind of was like one of those 1970’s fembot movies. You know when the female robots shoot bullets out of their boobs? They stand there with their shoulders back and just twist side to side and a hail of bullets comes spraying out. Yeah, kind of like that. Holy sh*t, that did not just happen is all I can think. I am trying to clean it up…kind of tricky trying to clean the keyboard and not eff up the document they were working on. I was never so thankful to work in a hospital were Sani-wipes are plentiful. I will never say whose office I was in…I am going to the grave with that one.
So I give birth to Emily and decide to roll the dice and see what happens this time. Turns out they still work. Now keep in mind I had 2 surgeries and the whole back injury debacle in the crucial newborn phase. There were many times I had to pump and dump because of all the meds I was taking. But I persevered. 2 days of nursing, 3 days off. 1 day of nursing 1 day off…it was like driving in traffic…stop and go, stop and go. For the longest time I could not get that cheesy Peter Cetera/Cher song out of my head, “After all the stops and starts, we keep coming back to these two hearts”….now you will have that song in your head for days…you’re welcome!
So breastfeeding in public, I am not against it….it just isn’t for me. I don’t mind if people do it in front of me, but I will never do it in front of anyone but Chuck and the girls. Just not gonna happen. I am not a graceful breast feeder. Emily pops off a lot to look around and when someone is nursing you just can’t help but not look. I don’t want my top half on display for the general public. They just aren’t that cute. Well, when Em was about 5 weeks old we needed to get out of the house. With all the crap that went on post partum the girls really needed a treat. So we took them to dinner at Panera (thanks Hasbro ladies!). Emily started to cry. I got her bottle ready and then to my complete horror noticed I forgot a nipple for her bottle. SH*T!!!! What was I going to do? Sara and Anna were already so on edge they probably would have pulled a Menendez, Erik and Lyle that is, and killed Chuck and I both if we suggested leaving. There was no going back. I had to nurse the baby. One of my worst fears coming true…breastfeeding in public!!! I think Sara may have been even more horrified than me. She was totally embarrassed that I was going to nurse Emily in a restaurant. I am sure this day will come up in therapy years from now. OK, so Chuck comes and stands in front of me and holds a blanket up to cover me (like that isn’t going to call attention to me) and I get the baby on. No word of a lie I cover up with a good 3 or 4 receiving blankets. Emme has her dinner and by some small miracle she survives the ordeal. She comes out of the blankets all red and sweaty. The poor thing had to be at least 117 degrees. There was an old lady next to us that stared at me the entire time and I am sure my blood pressure was through the roof, if Emily took a minute or two longer there was a good possibility I could have stroked out. Thankfully we all survived the Great Panera incident of 2013, but you can bet your last dollar I will NEVER forget a nipple again!!!
Now how funny is this? I was nursing the other day. Nourishing my child, fueling my child’s soul, giving myself fully to my child and all of the other hippie clichés you can think of. Nursing is supposed to make you feel youthful and alive. Not me. I feel primal, and like an animal. I find it kind of creepy when I look down after daydreaming for a bit and she is staring at me, with my boob in her mouth smiling at me. That may sound harsh but I have never been the Mother Earth type of mom. I nurse her because Emily genuinely enjoys it and I know it is the best thing for her. Oh, and you know how I said it is supposed to make you feel youthful? Well, the other day after nursing I went into the bathroom and a huge patch of gray hair caught my eye. I plucked those suckers out and I have decided that I am not going to call them grays anymore. From now on they are going to be my fancy hair…My sparkly hair. If you like that you can use it too. It is times like that it hits me that I am 41 years old with a newborn.
Ok, so now onto pumping at work. I have decided that NICU pumping room or not, unless you are a stripper it is just wrong to be topless at work. I always feel like someone is going to barge in and I am going to be hooked up to the yellow torture chamber. The hospital pump taunts me. Sometimes when I am feeling anxious about someone walking in on me I swear to God it is saying “act cool, act cool, act cool” and other times the pump is an outright jerk to me saying, “f*ck you, f*ck you, f*ck you”… There is one good thing about working in a NICU when you are nursing…if you forget your pump stuff they have supplies on hand. That happened the other day. Unfortunately though, they only had a size 24 cup and I need a larger size. I really needed to pump so I went for it with the smaller size. It was really uncomfortable, but it got the job done…but I could not stop laughing. So, if you have been following my blog for a while you know I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy…so all I could think of each time the pump sucked on my boob, was it was so tight and my nipple was being squeezed so hard on the side of the clear plastic that it looked like when a criminal’s face is pushed up against a wall or when a toddler squishes their face into a window. Nice visual, huh? Was that too much info?
Now for another song that will be stuck in your head for days…cue Alanis Morrisette, “Isn’t it ironic?…Yeah I really do think”…so my boobs are bigger than my babies head, yet they do not produce enough milk to meet her needs. How is that for fair? I need to supplement with formula. I am not upset I have to give formula I just feel cheated that I have been cursed with these huge udders and they really haven’t lived up to their potential. You would think they would pump out a gallon of milk. Instead, they give out more of a tiny school milk carton each day.
I have started taking Fenugreek to increase my supply. Other than making me smell like syrup I haven’t noticed a difference. I get about an ounce and half each time I pump. The other night at work I spilled half an ounce on the floor. I almost cried!! For a second I thought of grabbing a syringe and sucking it up off the floor. I decided I didn’t want to risk giving Emily MRSA or some other dreaded disease that may be lingering on the hospital floor. So dejectedly I put my measly ounce away. A few minutes later one of my coworkers came walking in with 5 ounces she just pumped! I felt so betrayed by my boobs. She gave me a tip…after pumping try hand expressing; she says she gets an extra ounce that way. OK, I will try it when I get home. I go home and pump. I get a whopping ounce. I am holding one boob still hooked up to the plastic pump contraption…with the other hand I try to express out some extra milk. Sadly my tiny hand was not getting the job done. Chuck was in the room and asked what I was doing. I explain the situation. He offers to help me out…not in a Marvin Gaye, “Lets get it on” kind of way…more like “hand expressing your huge boobies is going to be a group effort” kind of way. I said no thanks…it was going to be an exercise in futility anyway. You know Shaquille O’Neal? He is a huge guy with huge hand…he can palm a basketball for Christ’s sake…. I swear to all that is Holy even his meat mitts are not up to the challenge of squeezing milk out of my ta-tas.
So yeah, I got milk, but, I have Enfamil too.