Thursday, April 23, 2015

Why I [Should] Hate Breastfeeding

I haven't been alone for more than half an hour in over six months, and I've only been alone for half an hour twice.  As an introvert who recharges by myself, this should be exhausting.  That's not even it though, because I love being with my baby. She's my little 24/7 sidekick--my best girl.  I haven't been alone with my husband at all since she was born though, and that's something. That does a number on a new marriage, on any marriage.  She eats so often, there's no way we could pull off a date night. My body doesn't respond well to the pump, and she wouldn't take a bottle if it did. There's no time off, no sneaking away.

For the first four plus months, she mangled me trying to get milk without a properly functioning mouth. After it was "fixed" through two different surgeries, it wasn't better.  It was supposed to change her painful latch, her weight gain. It was supposed to make her happier, to give me time to squeeze in a workout or to at least pee without listening to screaming. It didn't. For another month, it didn't.

She continued to scream and pull off and scratch me while nursing, and she tried to nurse all day long. I took her to appointment after appointment, praying each doctor would stumble upon the cure. I awoke every morning and prayed, "God, make today day one. Make today the day she starts eating well, the day she relaxes."

And for five months, that day didn't come. Five months is forever when you're in it, when you don't know it'll only be five months.  I pumped what I could (sometimes half an ounce, sometimes drops) and kept her at the breast longer with a tube. She'd flail and rip it out of her mouth. Some days she spilled all the milk I had pumped over the course of eight sessions the day before. I screamed and cried while she did.  I threw tantrums and alienated loved ones because they couldn't understand.

Breastfeeding brought out a side of me I didn't recognize. An angry, dark side.

This is why I should hate breastfeeding.

But I don't, you guys. I really don't.

Because it also brought out a persistent side, a determined side.  A side that would go to any lengths to take care of my child, a side that would jump off the cliff of sanity and keep running forward to figure things out. It brought out my inner momma bear.

Because when she's afraid, she looks to my breast for comfort. Or when she's flirting with her daddy, she grins, whips her head toward me and latches on and off real quick, playing hard to get.  Or when she's hungry, she pants like an anxious puppy waiting for me to maneuver my shirt just right. Or when she's crying out of exhaustion and I scoop her up against me, her eyelashes flutter and dry as she drinks herself to sleep.

Because as I write this, my babe's soft cheek rests against my bare breast.  She's fallen asleep after a feed, and every so often her tiny lips get going and she nurses in her dream.  Her sweet breath is warm on my skin, and if her nap is long enough, her fuzzy hair will start to dampen.  When she eventually lifts her head to smile at me, she'll leave the tiniest beads of sweat on my chest--her payment for the liquid I provided her.

And I get to do this all day and all night.  At six months, our journey has just begun.

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