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Thursday, January 18, 2007All this talk about cross-nursing and casual sharing has me thinking about why it is that I'm fine with casual sharing but a little wigged out by the idea of cross-nursing. (I don't mind others doing it, just not for me.)
I think part of it is that until I had Emmitt, I never really understand what nursing mothers were talking about with that intense, physical bond that they form with their child. In fact, I'll admit that I was fairly insulted when breastfeeding moms talked about the "bonding" that they had with their babies and implied that I could never have that same level of bonding with my own bottle-fed (albeit with breast milk) child.
I get it now and it's hard to figure out how to share it without offending people. I'm going to go with it though and trust that my readers know me well enough to get what I'm trying to share and that I mean no offense by it.
Nursing a child really is one of the most intimate things I've experienced in my life. Not intimate in a sexual manner, intimate in a "takes your breath away at the sheer innocence and beauty of it" kind of way. As much of a Lactivist as I am, up until Emmitt was born I really only ever planned to nurse him because that's what's best for HIM. It never really dawned on me how I might feel about it. (To be honest, I expected to feel a little bit yucky about it, even knowing how natural it is...I totally GET moms that find the prospect of nursing to be "icky.")
The first time he nursed, I wanted to cry. Not because it hurt, not because it represented potential victory over the long arduous days of pumping, but because it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I'm not a romanticizing person, nor am I a person who cries...but even now, three months later, I still find my eyes occasionally welling up as I gaze down at him nursing. (And if you say it's pregnancy hormones, I'm going to show you pregnancy hormones! :-P)
It's so multi-faceted.
It's feeling him snuggled so close to me in that skin to skin contact that I never had with bottle feeding.
It's the way his mouth opens wide and he absolutely DIVES at my breast.
It's the way his eyes just LIGHT UP when he sees that nursing bra flap come down.
It's the fact that he's annoyed with other large chested women that have the gaul to hold him without giving access to those boobs. ;)
It's the times that he falls asleep at the breast and his mouth falls lazily open while a little dribble of milk runs down his cheek.
It's the times that he lets out the smallest, softest sigh of contentment when he's had his fill.
It's REALLY the times that he actually laughs while nursing. Looking up at me with those big old innocent eyes that crinkle at the corner before he lets out that funny little laugh between sucks.
It's all the touching, heart-felt, amazing moments that they tell you about even though you think they're insane in those early weeks. (After all, what's touching or beautiful about cracked nipples and latches so painful you have to bite your lip to keep from crying?)
It's all those things and so much more that make me so eternally thankful that I dropped my plans to EP from the start with him and decided to give this nursing thing one more shot. It's those things that make me want to encourage other moms that had trouble with their first child to not give up.
If you want to nurse but it hasn't worked out in the past, give it another try. Take a breastfeeding class, find a good LC BEFORE you give birth, setup a support system. Remind yourself that no two children are alike and that while the first time around may have been hell, this time it could be a dream. Remember that breastfeeding doesn't have to be a zero sum game. Nursing isn't entirely about nourishment. If you have low supply or other problems that make it physically difficult for you to produce enough milk, nurse what you can and bottlefeed what you can. Do what works for you and your baby, but don't give up on nursing if it's something you want to experience.
I get now why some moms are reluctant to wean. I may feel differently in another year or two, but for now...I can't imagine giving this up.