A few weeks ago, I got mastitis.
It was quite terrible in and of itself, but then just as I started to feel better, I realized that I was not producing as much milk on the affected side. In fact, not very much at all.
Because I am totally rational, reasonable, and never over-emotional I responded well.
With a total freak-out.
I was convinced this was the beginning of the end, I was going to stop producing altogether, I would not be able to breastfeed anymore. There were tears, there was panic, there were slightly frantic calls to my pediatrician and lactation consultant.
Then, there was strategic breastfeeding (round the motherlovin' clock, always on that side first), and gigantic doses of fenugreek, lots of water drinking, and lots of whole food eating. There was supposed to be lots of resting too... no comment.
It worked! Hallelujah! We're nursing fine! Production has improved (but not been completely restored I don't think...) and things are looking up.
After we were 'in the clear' and I could think CLEARLY again, I started thinking about why I had been so upset about the possibility of not being able to breastfeed any longer.
It would have been sad to pay for formula. VERY sad. But we'd have figured out a way.
I DO think breastfeeding is by far the healthier choice, but I'm sure Maggie would have done fine on formula.
I know breastfeeding can play a big part in mama-baby bonding, but there are TONS of healthy, well-attached kids who didn't nurse. I'm pretty confident Maggie & I would still love each other.
So what was it?!?! WHY the freakout, self?
I figured it out.
It's just that... I... well... I really like breastfeeding. In fact... I love it.
I KNOW! Women everywhere complain about it, it's so much work, it's such a commitment, dads can't help with feedings, the pumping, your body belongs to someone else, you smell like milk all the time, wear and tear on those lovely breasts, stupid nursing bras, nursing strikes, cluster feeding attacks, growth spurts, freaking mastitis, I KNOW!
But... I still really, really, really, LIKE nursing my babies.
And guys, I swear, this is NOT becuase nursing has been easy-peasy for me. I just told you about the mastitis business this time around with Maggie. And let's not discount the simple LOGISTICS of nursing while caring for multiple toddlers. Still- this has been a cakewalk compared to getting Henry to nurse.
He was 5 weeks early, needed a feeding tube, and then when the tube came out, I was WAY to doped up from emergency surgery to even fight them on formula... he was 4 days old before we even TRIED to breastfeed. It took TWO WEEKS for my milk to come in. For two weeks, at EVERY feeding, I'd try to nurse Henry, he'd scream at me, then we'd use a special syringe to feed him formula- you laid it on your pinkie, put the syringe and your pinkie in his mouth, and fed him the formula DROP BY DROP. Then, I'd pump after every feeding.
And then it'd basically be time to start the cycle again.
We were going to our (incredibly supportive, practically a lactation consultant) peditrician every 3 days so we could weigh him and see how he was doing.
On day 14, he had lost over 1.5 pounds. Way too much.
On day 15, my milk finallllyyyyyy came in
On day 19, we stopped supplementing with formula. Exclusive breastfeeding.
I'm going to go ahead and allow a moment of silence here, so that nursing mothers all over the world can raise a triumphant fist with me in victory. You know you want to.
He then proceed to continue nursing until.... uh... maybe until I hit my second trimester with Maggie. Whoops?
I couldn't think of a good reason to stop. He didn't want to stop.
And... I just sort of like breastfeeding.
It's so cozy! So snuggly! It's an excuse to sit on the sofa and chill every few hours. Their baby skin is so warm. Nursing makes them SOOOOOO happy! When they're cranky, it's like the magic cure. Even the saddest most upsettest baby can usually be calmed by nursing. (Usually.) You don't have to buy formula! Or pack bottles. In the middle of the night, I don't even have to leave my bed. I just pull Maggie out of her pack & play, nurse her all warm and cozy in bed (accidentally fall asleep... wake up) change her, swaddle her up, & put her back in the pack & play. I repeat, I don't even have to leave my bed.
I was talking to a friend a few months ago, and realizing during the course of our conversation that since July of 2009, I have either been pregnant or nursing. That's almost THREE YEARS. And weirdly... I'm kind of okay with it. In fact... I might try to keep the streak going.
MIGHT, I SAID MIGHT. GEEZ, CALM DOWN.