Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, hands down. Never have I heard so much advice and theorizing from well-meaning people. Who knew my chest would ever be the topic of such heated discussion?
Seabass has never been a champ at the breast. First he was too sleepy, which diminished my milk supply. So the lactation consultants got us into a regimen of putting him on the breast as much as possible before eventually pumping and bottle-feeding the remains while simultaneously taking a milk-supply-enhancing herb supplement that made me smell like maple syrup. Exhausting. I was like a sleep-walking pancake breakfast.
And oh, the shame! Not only was I spending up to 90 minutes feeding my baby before starting again an hour later, but I felt less than a woman for not holding up my end of the baby/mommy feeding agreement. I envied – and still do envy – those for whom it all comes naturally.
Then Seabass woke up and started eating more, all of his own accord. Yay! At the same time, he also started screaming bloody murder between feedings, sometimes to the point where he couldn’t calm down enough to eat. Boo. Lactation consultants: “It has to be something you’re eating that’s irritating him. How about you go off of corn, wheat, dairy, soy, nuts, chocolate, caffeine and most fruits and vegetables? And if that doesn’t work, we’ll try taking you off water and oxygen next week.” Me: “Youbetcha, that sounds perfectly reasonable!”
And alas, it isn’t anything I’m eating that’s making him the fuss monkey, colicky baby he is anyway. It’s just him. It’s not my diet. Not the detergent we use. Not his sleep schedule. Not the weather. Not the stress I’m under or the way we SHUSH and SWADDLE and SWING this little guy.
When he is eating well, I love love love nursing. I’ve never had a symbiotic relationship like this before, and it truly is a gift from God…when it works. It’s beautiful to stroke C’s little neck, rock back and forth and sing little weird made-up songs to him while he chows down. It feels ancient and pure. And I guess it makes up for all the times that he is a tomato-red howling banshee coming on or off the breast, sending me into tears and tempting Jake to fetch a pen and the adoption papers.
No, in this new economy of parenthood, whatever’s best for C is worth the trouble.