Today I am preoccupied with breastmilk - partly because Austin has spit up after every feeding today (a little worried!), partly because my friend and battle buddy just wrote about her own experiences, and partly because I keep stumbling on crap like this "study" regarding the perceived compentency of breastfeeding women (sample size for the study? In one experiment, 37 people. In the other, 55. How is this even remotely representative of the general population?? But that's another argument for another time...).

So: I am choosing to breastfeed. I was breastfed exclusively for the first few months of my life, then supplemented with formula. My mother always talks about breastfeeding as if it were the obvious choice for her, and for me, it was. Of all the considerations and decisions I've made regarding pregnancy and now mommy-hood, whether or not to breastfeed was on the extreme-easy end of the spectrum.
In addition to the health benefits associated with breastfeeding, my favorite aspect of it is the closeness I get with Austin - physical and emotional. It's our special time together that only he and I can share: his tiny little body, so delicate and perfect, snuggled next to mine. I like to whisper to him while he's feeding, about what's going to happen later in the day, how much his dad and I love him or to thank him for sleeping 4 hours in a stretch the night before. Mostly he has his eyes closed when he's feeding, but sometimes he's very alert; when he turns his face slightly and looks up at me, my heart melts. I love the feeling that I'm having such an impact on his life, providing him both nourishment and love.

I also appreciate the closeness with Theseus. I really could not ask for a better husband and father to our son - he was remarkably (at times impossibly) patient both with me and the baby, no matter how much spit up was on his shoulder, what time it was, how needy I was being, or how recently he'd changed a diaper. In the first few blurry, raggedy days after the c-section, he did all the changing, clothing, burping - he carried the baby to me when it was time to feed him, helped me into and out of the bathroom, logged the breastfeeding/diapering times on the sheet the nurses gave us, fetched me endless pitchers of ice water, called in our meal orders to the kitchen, sat up with me at all hours of the night while I fed the baby. He put socks on my feet, propped me up with pillows, helped me sit up, let me have my way about absolutely everything.

The night (early morning?) before Austin was born, Theseus slept in the crappy chair he was given at the hospital (without a pillow!), holding my hand. And despite how exhausted I how he's been and how tiring it is caring entirely for two people, he's done all of this without a complaint. I can't even express how lucky I am to have him.

Breastfeeding has made the three of us closer as a family, even in the short time we've all been together. Yes, sometimes I'm tired and irritable, sometimes I'm sore all over and just want to sleep a little longer, but being so close to the two men in my life leaves me awash with love.


Ok, so can I complain for a few minutes? The severe downside to breastfeeding is the social acceptableness of it (lack of?), particularly in public/semi-public. Specifically upsetting me: I will be probably be traveling back home for Easter, 4 hours by car. I can't leave Austin in his car seat the whole time - he'll need to be changed, but there are changing stations along the way (not ideal but better than nothing; I can also try to change him in the car). But what am I supposed to do about feeding him? Sit in the disgusting rest stop bathroom for 25 minutes while he eats? Hide under a blanket in the back seat of my car and hope no one sees us?

I know I can pump ahead of time and give him bottles in the car, but why should I have to? I don't mean ripping my whole shirt off and sitting on a park bench, but there's no reason women shouldn't be allowed to feed their babies discreetly. Breastfeeding is natural - why do people get so grossed out/offended by it? "Oh my God, a nipple!" Who cares??

- Antiope

3/27/2011 08:20:31 am

If it makes any difference or helps any....when I was nursing the Spawn, I just threw a lightweight blanket over my shoulder. was grossed out by breastfeeding so I did this at home as well if I was nuring when he was home. It didn;t hurt the Spawn at all...

As for the public view...most people still view the female breast as a erotic thing - a sex object, so to speak. I don;t know about other countries (I;m thinking Europeans see it differently) but Americans are more willing to look at boobs exposed in a movie than in a public pace nursing a baby.

Spitting much does he spit up? just a little? Thats normal...he might be eating more than his little tummy can hold and that little flappy thing that seals off the stomach isn;t 100% functional until like 4 or 5 months...I dont remember the exact age. As long as he's gaining weight at the right level, he'll be fine. :)

3/27/2011 10:05:52 am

i love every moment of it.
i miss you guys so much and i am so truly and utterly tankful that i got the opportunity to be there for his birth. i can't wait to be back home with you guys. do me a favor though.. .. . .. don't let him get too big

3/28/2011 04:30:40 am

Glad your back! Hope things are going well!

Isnt it weird how preoccupied you become with bodily fluids? I'm sure Angel is right and his stomach flap isn't developed enough yet. (it happened to Rhea and she hardly ever spits up now)

Good luck with the breastfeeding! The first few weeks were the toughest for me but it's smooth sailing now.

3/28/2011 09:19:25 am

@Angel - I'm thinking I'll have to do the blanket thing. It just sucks to have to hide like I'm doing something wrong. He only spits up a little, but it happens after almost every feeding. He goes to see the pediatrician next week, so I'll be able to relax a little if his weight has gone up.

@Theseus - I don't want him to get any bigger, either! :)

@Meg - Thanks! I'm getting the hang of it now, I think. How is it working out for you guys, going between breastfeeding and bottle feeding? Are you using a manual or electric pump?

3/29/2011 11:24:13 am

Well I dont know if they told you but all babies lose some weight after birth...I don;t remember why, butits not much & it doesn;t really affect their growth...I mean, Spawn was 5 lbs 11 1/2 oz at birth, left the hospital at 6 1/2 lbs, his first weigh in at home (I had a visiting nurse come, I dont remember why) he was back down to 5 lbs 10 oz....and well, you know what he looks like now :(

Pump?? Go electric! I had a manual & my forearms were rock hard by the time I gave up on nursing....unless of course you were planning to build your arm muscles up anyway lol.

3/29/2011 11:34:23 pm

I agree with Angel go electric! I have the Medela Pump in Style Advance and it is super awesome. I couldn't imagine hand pumping.

Are those crappy chairs standard issue? Erik had one too but it was broken and he had to sleep on two different levels. He had a pillow though.

I use a nursing cover when out in public. You might want to get him used to it now though because Rhea rips it off all the time.

3/31/2011 03:51:05 am

@Angel - Yeah, they told me he'd lose weight. He was 7 lbs, 3 oz when he was born and left the hospital at 6 lbs, 11 oz. Three days later, at his first doctor's appointment, he was 6 lbs, 14 oz. I wish I had a scale here that was sensitive enough to measure ounces... but then again, I probably don't need to be obsessing over it. I dunno. It's hard not to obsess. :/

@Meg - The lactation consultants gave me a manual pump (also Medela), which isn't too bad. I'm kind of afraid to try an electric one! Does it feel like you're feeding a robot?

Luckily Josh only had to sleep on the crappy chair for one night. The room I was moved into after Austin was born had two beds, and since I didn't have a roommate (thank God!!!), he just slept in the other bed.


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