Wednesday, October 24, 2012

breastfeeding > childbirth

How we have survived as a species this long is beyond me. We emerge into the world hairless, unable to walk or feed ourselves, completely dependent upon parents who have neither sharp talons nor speedy gait to protect us. Human childbirth in and of itself is dangerous, considering our upright posture makes our hips too narrow to birth our enormous brains without considerable pain and risk. But for me, childbirth pales in comparison to sustaining our lives beyond the womb.

I've managed a domestic violence shelter and answered a suicide hotline. One time, I kicked a nail while walking barefoot, then walked another mile and a half back to our house while my shoe filled up with blood because I didn't want Mitch to think I was a wimp. But nothing has reduced my stoic, unfeeling face to tears more often than watching my hungry baby scream and thrash at my bosom while I calmly try to explain that if she would just latch, the hunger would go away. Mommy would stop crying, and all would be right in the world.

But unfortunately, human babies are born not knowing how to latch onto their mother's breast. It is something that must be learned. They come out knowing how to suck, bite, nosh, and chew, but not latch. This also means that your baby can not eat. One would think that evolution would have prepared us to at least eat upon entering the world, but evolution has failed us miserably in this area. Thankfully, technological advancement has given us many implements and procedures to counteract natural selection. To simply feed my darling Dot, we tried tubes and syringes, several different bottles and formula. I pumped the crap out of my boobs. We have a Boppy and a My Breast Friend. We even altered my daughter's flawless, perfect little body by consenting to a frenotomy. We were advised to have her upper lip cut as well, but have decided against further procedures for now. We consulted three different pediatricians, two lactation consultants, our doula, and at least half a dozen nurses. I have googled "nipples" more times than I care to count.

And finally, as of Sunday, we were exclusively nursing. It was toe-curlingly painful and required nine hands to get started, but we were nursing nonetheless. And despite all the crying and consulting fees and implements, it is one of the most liberating things I have ever done. I consider myself immensely lucky to have even established it in the first two weeks, and to have access to so much help and support. And Mitch considers himself lucky to have a wife who walks around topless most of the day.
boob coma


  1. Oh man - I had so much trouble breast feeding. I would cry, I would yell, I would pull my hair out in anguish but apparently that did not make my nipples more appealing to my children. Latching was impossible.

    I felt inept. I would look at other mothers who did it so naturally and would just be in awe. Like - this is something I am supposed to just get, right? women all over the world, for centuries have done it. What the hell was my problem.

    I still have a complex about it. It is something that makes me sad that I couldn't keep it up for very long with either of my two children.

    Glad you got through the hard stuff and are doing it!

  2. Oh friend, I can't even count the number of times I have fantasized about quitting (at least three times a night when I'm jarred awake by a screaming, ravenous baby). I can't give side-eye to anyone who formula-feeds. I get it.