One of my friends recently directed my attention to this article, about a flight attendant named Sara Keagle who listed breast feeding as one of the top ten grossest things she has ever seen on a plane.
|Speaking of breast feeding, how cool are these and this?!
Really? Are we really so far removed from the most natural, healthy thing in the world that we would allow someone to list breast feeding in public in the same category of grossness as finding a strangers bloody panties stuffed into the seat pocket? (See #3 on the list!)
I think it's deplorable that somehow people fail to forget how damn hard breast feeding is. From the moment Grace first latched on I had a hard a really hard time with it. I had imagined it would be easy and fulfilling, but it wasn't. Well, at least not immediately. First of all, she didn't take to my breast right away. So there I sat, with my bare breasts exposed to anyone who walked into my hospital room, while gruff nurses breezed in to tell me that the reason Grace was having a hard time latching was because I was squeezing my breast into a "hamburger" shape, instead of the "taco" shape that babies prefer. I shit you not.
Then, once she finally did latch, it was painful. Once again, the nurses made me feel like I was doing something wrong, so I just quit complaining and bit back tears while Grace bit my nipples. Of course I'm kidding about that. You can't really bite when all you have to work with are gums. The biting would come later in the game when she started to get her first couple of teeth.
Finally, by some tiny miracle, Grace finally got the hang of it and latched on after what felt like days of her rooting around to no avail. I was so relieved that I wanted to buzz all those nurses who had made me feel like I was a failure to show them that together, my little nugget and I had figured it out. Instead, I leaned back into the stiff, white, cotton sheets of my hospital bed and cried hot, silent, salty tears that dripped off my chin and disappeared into Grace's slick, black hair. Breastfeeding was taking it's toll on me and I hadn't even left the hospital.
After we had mastered the latch on game, I thought it was going to be smooth sailing, but I couldn't have been more wrong. The first afternoon we brought her home, Grace vomited up a pretty good amount of blood. In a panic, I called the doctors office like a lunatic, certain that my newborn daughter had some kind of tragic disease. Thankfully, the nurse who I spoke with on the phone told me the blood most likely came from small cracks or cuts in my nipples. She was certain the blood in G's spit-up was from suckling blood out of those tiny cracks, and not from internal bleeding. When I hung up the phone I sat in the giant, over-stuffed brown recliner and had another good cry. This time out of relief that Grace was healthy but also because I was lamenting my smooth, pink, crack-free, nipples.
Of course, nursing got easier as time went by, but there were so many obstacles I had never expected along the way. For months I showered with my palms cupped protectively over my perpetually sore nipples. The warm water made the millions of tiny paper-cut-like tears in my nipples feel like they were being ripped open and slathered with rubbing alcohol. I cried when my breasts became so engorged that they felt like que balls stuffed into my nursing bra and I cried even harder when I realized the only way I was going to get relief was to either pump or let Grace nurse - both which would result in even more pain.
I learned not to bend over to tie my shoes or pick up a stray burp rag, because any type of forward fold caused my milk to let lose like a river that had been dammed. It took mere seconds for sticky breast milk to soak through breast pads, padded nursing bras and chronically stained t-shirts. I spent months feeling damp and smelling like urp. I hated that I was allowed to be clean for exactly two seconds and that those two seconds were spent standing outside of the shower, drying off. The combination of showering in warm water and patting myself dry was just enough activity to make by boobs spray milk in a million different directions, and drip down the front of my clean body, that still sort of looked pregnant.
I started to despise breast feeding and began to wonder when I was going to enjoy being a new mom.
Here's my point:
Lay off mothers that are trying their best to make a healthy, natural decision for their baby. They are sleep deprived, riding a hormonal roller coaster, and probably soaked to the core with breast milk, baby spit-up and other bodily fluids. Chances are they are uncomfortable, embarrassed, and their boobs feel like two ten-pound bowling balls stuffed into a scratchy, damp, bra. It's a lot harder on them then it is on you, so give it a rest Sara Keagle, or else we're going to have to start picking on you because your name sounds like a vaginal exercise.
More importantly, to all you new mom's out there: Stick with it. It really does get easier and you will spend nights in the rocking chair, nursing your child, inhaling their sweet baby smell, and feeling like you are the luckiest woman in the world. It'll take a little time, but you and your breasts will figure it out. I promise.