Thursday, January 26, 2012

Some [New] Thoughts on Breastfeeding

In the words of my dear friend, Andrea Logue: My boobs are like workhorses these days.

While nursing her daughter she told me she would ask herself: Why even bother wearing a shirt? I laughed so hard when she said that because it is totally true.

I am in the thick of breastfeeding with Katherine right now. She's at the age where she's still a few months out before starting solids, yet she's getting bigger so her tummy keeps asking for more, more, more!

When I had William I had to work really hard to nurse him. He was in the NICU for the first two weeks of his life so that meant the pump and I were best friends. I had a love/hate relationship with that thing. When William was finally strong enough to eat on his own, it seemed like it took months before he had a good latch and was really getting the hang of things. But I kept on because I just thought this was how it was supposed to be. He breastfed, more or less, for about 13 months.

When Lucy came along she latched on the second she was out of the womb. "OH!" I thought, "THIS is how it's supposed to be." Easy and natural. And most of the time it was like that. Until she started biting me. I didn't always enjoy breastfeeding her but I did it because that's what I expected out of myself.

In the last few years I have had more and more friends who have desperately wanted to breastfeed but, for whatever reasons, couldn't do it. And it was rarely for lack of trying. It's been after listening to these women, these good friends of mine, tell me their grief at not being able to breastfeed that I've come to realize how I've taken my own breastfeeding experiences for granted. I've truly been blessed to be able to naturally feed all three of my children with relative ease.

And now my darling Katherine is here and theoretically she should be the toughest to nurse. It's hard to hear the chaos that ensues with my other two kids when Katherine needs to eat and I'm glued to the chair. I can't make lunch right now. I can't take you to the potty right now. I can't help you build Legos right now.

But I'm realizing that I'm enjoying breastfeeding this third time around more than ever. It's so peaceful up there in that room of hers when it's just her and I. When one of the other kids pop in to say hello, even they sense the serenity and bring their voices down a notch or two. When my life is busier than ever I'm so glad I have this forced reason to slow down. A rationale to sit for ten to fifteen minutes at time. An excuse to hold her little body when it's so much easier to set her down and run about the house.

And this body of mine. I really don't thank it enough. Instead I look in the mirror and question what it has become. I see the silver little stretch lines on my hips. A tummy that's softer than it used to be. Breasts that seem to be mismatched. (But they are bigger. That is one positive out of this.)

No matter how much I might put down my body or yell at it for not fitting into these jeans or that shirt the way it used to, it still performs for me. When I forget to drink enough water. When I eat too many sweets. When I wait too long to eat lunch. When I don't exercise enough. When I don't sleep enough. It still never lets me down.

It's such a marvelous thing to not only grow an entire human being for nine months but to then be able provide it with sustenance for months after that baby is born!

So my new thoughts on breastfeeding are this:

1. I'll never judge another woman for not breastfeeding. None of us knows the individuals pains it takes in doing so.

2. I'm going to try my best to offer praise and encouragement to women who can and do breastfeed. It's tough, but it's often times thankless.

3. I'm going to try my best not to groan in the middle of the night when a hungry baby yelps. Or get panicky when she gets hungry in a less-than desirable location. Or get annoyed when she wants to eat AGAIN. This is a gift I've been given, not a burden.  I'm going to try to embrace it.
Just a fun picture of Katherine because I'm not the kind of girl who can take, much less, post a picture of myself breastfeeding. :)

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