Misadventures of a 20-Something Mom: Breast is Best...Unless your kid is over 6 months...then you are a f*#$ing deviant weirdo   

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Breast is Best...Unless your kid is over 6 months...then you are a f*#$ing deviant weirdo

I'll put it out there...and own it. In America,  we are not a breastfeeding society. We know the research has proven breast milk to be superior over formula, but still the idea of breastfeeding gives a lot of people the heebie jeebies. While I was pregnant I was bombarded with stories about how difficult and painful breastfeeding was, and how a lot of people tried but never even made it out of the starting gate. At the same time, everyone and their dog would ask me if I planned on breastfeeding. Some people would ask me multiple times.

My answer was always the same, "I'm going to try, but if it doesn't work out for me and my family then it is no big deal to use formula." All the self described "crunchy" moms are probably throwing up in their mouths as they read that (If they have even recovered from my last post!) I didn't want to set myself up for disappointment and frankly what difference was it to me whether the little sea monkey in my belly drank milk from the tap or milk from a bottle?

When my son was born, it suddenly made a difference. Seeing him struggle to latch on, while listening to a chorus of nurses tell me that he might not be able to breastfeed and I didn't have enough colostrum, devastated me in a way I could have never anticipated. I at least wanted to be given the option to breastfeed.

Those first few days in the hospital were a roller coaster of emotions. After speaking with a lactation consultant I discovered that I did have colostrum after all...those nurses were idiots..but my son had difficulty latching and my boobs struggled to keep up with my baby walrus' increasing demands. I was outfitted with all sorts of alien devices to help the process: nipple shields, a breast pump, collection containers, etc. Overwhelmed was the understatement of the century. I had no idea that breastfeeding could be THAT difficult.

Every time I hooked those breast flanges up and started pumping, I felt like Bessie the freaking cow. Honestly, that happens to this day! I'm not sure my boobs will ever be viewed as sexual objects again. They've become a sort of freaky sideshow act. "Look how far I can shoot milk out of this one babe!" But I digress..

Despite the pediatrician's assurance that my son would be fine until my milk "came in", I decided to supplement with formula a few times after his hungry cries got the best of me. The breastfeeding relationship has since developed substantially. We no longer need most of those alien devices, but it has been far from a smooth ride. I have developed clogged nipple pores, clogged ducts, and mastitis multiple times.

For those of you who don't know, a clogged nipple pore looks a bit like a pimple.. on your actual nipple. Super hot, right? And it feels a bit like a scalding branding iron every time you go to nurse. Now, I've got your attention! Eight hundred episodes of TLC's Make Room for Baby did NOT prepare me for that shit. On the other hand, a clogged duct feels a bit like you got donkey punched in the tit. Super sore. If you are lucky enough to get mastitis, the mother of all boob ailments, then you are in for a real treat! I've had it a few times now..which I'm positive equates to like six tear drops in prison.

Mastitis hits you like a ton of bricks. You suddenly just don't feel right. Perhaps, you're coming down with something? A few short hours later and your boob is painted with fire-engine red stripes, you have chills, body aches, and a fever that hovers around 104. If you're anything like me, you have no idea what the f#&k is going on the first time it happens. Hmm..is my boob supposed to be swollen like a Guatemalan cantaloupe? Basically, mastitis is when the shit hits the fan. They pump you full of antibiotics, fluids, and fever reducers. If that doesn't work you have to be hospitalized. HOSPITALIZED! How hardcore is that? Breastfeeding is not for the faint-hearted. (And you thought we were all a bunch of smelly, Pansie hippies)

I tell you all this, because I'm now in a pretty comfortable place with breastfeeding. Knock on wood, we haven't had any issues of late. So now, eight months later when me and the kid finally have our shit together, people are telling me its curtain call. "You only really need to breastfeed for 6 months." "When are you planning on going until?" "You're STILL breastfeeding?"

So you mean to tell me I went an extra two months, and I didn't have to?! Damnit! Who do I talk to about a refund?

Of course I know that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics 6 months is the minimum recommendation and 12 months is what society interprets as the "maximum." How about this...I do what I want. Yes, I'm still breastfeeding. No, I don't have an end date in sight. How about I do what works for my family, and you mind your own god damn business. :) Since when the hell did my boobs become open to your interpretation and advice anyway?

I get it. I used to be one of those people who thought it was gross and cringed at the sight of a kid old enough to walk over and plop a boob right in his own mouth.  But doing time in the breastfeeding trenches has changed me a bit. I don't know if that is what will happen in this house, but it doesn't bother me as much anymore. Even if your kid is old enough to tip his hat before sauntering over and saying, "I'm a might bit thirsty mummy, could I have a bit of milk", I think it's fine. It doesn't make you a freaking deviant. If that's what works for you and your family. Everybody just needs to mind their own boobs.

10 comments:

  1. hee hee...I wanted to breastfeed my twins but they were so early I could never produce enough..even pumping every three hours, and then when the third came along I decided that I didn't have time to sit down and relax enough to breastfeed with 2 19 month olds running around, so I opted formula again. Like you said, whatever works for your family...;)

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  2. I wanted to until 6 months at least but I dried up when he was 3 months old. *shrugs* No idea how long I would have really went. He was on formula for 2 weeks and spitting up A LOT. I switched to soy and 2 days later HE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT AT 3 MONTHS OLD! Maybe things happen for a reason. :D

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  3. That would be a GREAT title of a book: Mind Your Own Boobs!!
    Why is BF'ing such a hot topic with everyone - everyone suddenly thinks they have free license to comment on whether a mom BF's or not. It's funny - I have really strong, biased opinions on this topic that I wasn't aware of til a friend confided in me she never BF'd solely because she didn't want to. OH THE JUDGEMENT I felt! As we were talking I was "saying" all the right things but seriously feeling like, WTF? and "how selfish of her" and some really shitty things - and it was none of my beeswax! So - I ended up stopping the conversation just as she was telling me about judgey moms and confessing that omg, I was judging the SHIT out of her right there and then! It was the BEST conversation - we ended up sharing our opinions on the topic and not changing them but boy, did I come away from that one really aware of how much I judge other moms, and I wasn't even aware of it!
    GREAT POST! Thanks for sharing

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    1. I like that for a title too. You can be my publisher! lol

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  4. Love it! Thanks for sharing :)

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  5. I laughed so much it trickled down my leg! My son is almost 2 and he still breastfeeds and I'm ok with that.

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  6. So funny! Loved it. I went through a similar experience with my first son and it was so stressful. You're right ... no one EVER talked to me about how hard it can be. Thanks for sharing this!!!

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  7. mind your own boobs! I like that a lot! Recently at a family dinner, My SIL piped up with when are you going to feed till, Before I could answer, My Hubby interjected with " Until he doesn't need it anymore" with a Duh look on his face! I was laughing on the inside!

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  8. Great post. I just happened upon your blog when looking up the new Time cover. Btw, the World Health Organization recommends nursing "up to 2 years of age or beyond"(http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/exclusive_breastfeeding/en/), but of course in the US that is nearly unheard of. My son is almost two so we are entering into SUPERFREAK territory, but he shows no signs of wanting to stop. And though I would love to have my body back I'm not happy with the idea of cutting him off from something he loves so much that is simultaneously so good for him.

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