Thinking back to when I first announced my pregnancy and my breasts became a subject of conversation (and decision regarding them) for everyone I started to wonder what the heck I got myself into.
Oh that’s right, my husband and I had an excellent time at one of my longtime best friend’s weddings in North Carolina. It was a fantastic, warm beachside occasion—filled with many cheerful toasts to the happy couple. So good in fact we forgot ourselves (and that’d I’d gone off the pill recently) that fateful night.
Fast-forward almost thirty-eight weeks or eight-point-five pregnant months later and out pops Roman, my little boy, at the beginning of the last snow storm this year. He was thrust on me (as part of my birth plan) not seconds after his arrival with one nurse ripping down my gown, another fidgeting with his tiny mouth and attaching it to my nipple, my doctor dutifully sewing below and a loving husband at my side (crying). Reality set in as the first feeding commenced.
I silently had agreed to breastfeed throughout many conversations in my pregnancy. It was the PC thing to do after all. I felt like if I didn’t “just agree,” well then why was I even having a baby? And secretly wondered if I too selfish.
My thoughts ran in circles sometimes while others told me why I should or when I was alone in private.
First, I couldn’t fathom being the sole provider to a little human. Then my thoughts ran rampant with concerns for my body. I was vain, I knew that about myself and knew that the last bit of weight hangs on until breast feeding is stopped. And I knew that I’d want to be like Heidi Klum and get back to my former skinny self in four weeks flat. It’s not like I had a runway engagement to quickly attend to but still. I also wondered how if it would affect my breasts.
Would they get all stretched out without me being able to do anything about it? It’s not like there is a diet, homeopathic remedy or breast exercises to get them back into shape after. Right? Plus I didn’t want to pump at work. My work days were already nine to ten hours long and I hardly ever took lunches, not to mention the fact that I typically had lunch meetings two or so times a week. I wanted to be able to leave the office at a reasonable time to get home to my baby, not take a lunch and pump prolonging my day. I didn’t want to make excuses to my male counterparts. I didn’t want to get left out of a meeting or leave a meeting mid-way to pump.
I’d worked too hard for many years to get to where I was at in my career and didn’t want a baby to bring it all down. Oh and less I forget I also did not (and swore) that I wouldn’t breastfeed in public. Besides nervousness about how much breast is too much I was one of those women who thought it disgusting when other women would just whip it out to feed. Finally, my anti-breastfeeding angst would always conclude in the same place. My sisters and I were all formula fed and we were all relatively healthy—so I’d breastfeed for awhile to appease the masses, then I’d slowly introduce formula and I’d be free. Ahhhh.
I am so happy I didn’t give up.
After that first feeding with new babe at my breast, I was in shock at just how often these little guys need nourishment. My husband and I never got to attend our “Breastfeeding, Caring and Beyond” class as it had been postponed due to snow just earlier that week. Now if it weren’t for Roman arriving two weeks early we would have attended, learned some tidbits and had time for the information to settle in. As this weren’t the case we were learning everything on the job so-to-speak and breastfeeding had its immediate hurdles.
The lactation consultant was very warm and all smiles but proceeded in making me feel immediately horrible about my initial experiences at the hospital. The latch was good, but as there was no milk and my little guy was screaming bloody murder it was a scary beginning. Having had zero sleep (and as someone who needs their eight hours), being in excruciating pain and having a new baby wail their little eyes out for food didn’t help. She seemed to assume (like everyone these days) that I was going to breastfeed and that was that. His advice of, “it shouldn’t hurt in a few days so stick with it” and “wait to your milk comes in” really just pissed me off.
Wait to it comes in? Like two to four days wait? What do I do until then? Just listen to my hungry purple-faced baby scream as though we are whipping him? She did not want us to supplement with formula until the magical flow of real milk arrived but gave no advice until that time. Crying, I quickly lost my patience (and mind) and thought we’d made a huge mistake.
When we came home from the hospital, even after my milk came in it did not get any easier like the lactation consultant said. We did give in and supplemented with formula if it seemed like Roman was not satisfied at first. It took us several weeks of videoing Roman and working with our doctors to identify his reflux. He screamed and cried when he was hungry, during feedings and after. He vomited a lot too, the poor little guy. But two medications and nine weeks later our screaming little bird settled into infanthood a bit more. And somewhere along the way I discovered that I actually love breastfeeding and started to plan on how I could make it work when I went back to work.
Perhaps it was all of the skin-on-skin time or staring into my little guys red and swollen eyes as he nibbled away or his happy-milk-drunk turtlehead movement post feed or the notion that the baby (my baby) that I grew inside needed me like no other changed my mindset. I am not sure but I am happier about this accomplishment than many in my life so far and have surprised myself that I feel this way.
I no longer worry about the shape of my breasts, getting back into a size six before going back to work (nope, not gonna to happen) or care about what other people (especially men) will think as I schedule time to pump at work. I love giving my Magoo what he needs and now find the time we spend feeding (on breast) together so incredibly special—even if it happens to be in public.
I’ve learned a lot about myself on this breastfeeding journey of mine, including a bond I didn’t fathom possible with my bambino and one that is not so easy to give up.