Monday, April 23, 2007

The Story of Me

What makes me qualified to write a blog about breastfeeding?....scratches head searching for acceptable answer......

Okay, it's confession time. I'm a mother. Not an expert.

I gave birth to my son in October 2005. The first 2 weeks of breastfeeding was the usual hell of cracked, bleeding nipples and constant engorgement. Toe-curling HELL with many, many tears. The 3rd week was tolerable with significantly less tears. Then, it was a breeze after that. I had no problems whatsoever. My supply was so abundant, for the first 6 months, I couldn't leave the house without wearing nursing pads. I never got mastitis. I've heard of thrush, but have yet to see it. Since I stayed home, I didn't have to mess with scheduled feedings vs. pumping - I always nursed my son "on demand". Weaning was equally easy. When my son was 15 months old, we went on a visit to Boston. We were having so much fun that my son forgot to ask for nursing and I forgot to offer it. I nursed him on the flight back and that was it. The end.


I began attending a breastfeeding support group at my hospital when my son was 3 weeks old. I was still very awkward with nursing anywhere that wasn't within the safe confines of my home. I quickly discovered the group was a breastfeeding haven in public and I met a few gals there as well. But I realized that not everyone was having as easy of a time of it and that not everyone had a sister such as I did who could talk them from The Ledge during those first 2-3 weeks. So I continued to attend the group and stayed on for the next entire year. Over that time period, I've patted many a new, tearful mother on the shoulder. I've given loads of "Been There" hugs. And I've heard just about every breastfeeding horror story under the sun. Therefore, I certainly never, EVER took it for granted how easy breastfeeding was for me. Indeed, I was always very appreciative of my positive experience all the while acutely aware that it's not like that for everyone.

So, I weaned my son in January, but am pregnant with my daughter who is due in July - the roller coaster of breastfeeding will be taking off again. I would like to use this space to chronicle those early, tough days. I've heard time and time again how new mothers are simply unprepared for how mind-blowing those early days are - the standard literature and breastfeeding classes don't really convey how terribly frightening it is to face 3 am with a screaming newborn and bleeding nipples. They don't tell you that when you suddenly sprout cantaloupes on your chest, your precious progeny can't even latch on properly and will scream in frustration. They don't tell you that you should pump a little first and that DAMN, girl - you should have opened and sterilized that breast pump ahead of time. They don't tell you that it helps to chew on your own lips during those early weeks to distract you from the sheer agony emanating from your nipples. And sadly, they don't tell you how incredibly guilty you will feel for dreading that initial latch-on in those early weeks. Truthfully - I was actually fortunate since I knew from close friends and my sister that breastfeeding is not some miraculous experience as shown in the movies and TV. Real life simply does not have the benefit of a soundtrack and a soft focus lens, that's for sure. So, I'd like to use this space to provide a real-time, non-clinical account of those early weeks that won't be glossed over later with sentiment when the hormones have calmed down.

However, I don't want this place to become my personal breastfeeding diary. I'd also like to use this space as a forum for discussing a myriad of issues surrounding breastfeeding - nursing in public and perceived age limits for weaning your child (is 12 months too old? is two years? great balls of fire - four years?). I want to cover the laws being passed by various states (are they enough? are they fair to the public?). I'll definitely provide links to current news stories, as well. And finally, I want to have heart-to-hearts regarding the guilt and judgment that occurs when a mother either supplements with formula or doesn't breastfeed at all. I'd like this space to be open to everyone - I certainly hope to get input from non-breastfeeding folks - men, women, mothers, fathers. Whether you have a child or not, whether you breastfeed or not - your opinion is welcome here.

Nay, it is encouraged.