Breastfeeding is a weird thing. It’s this entrance into motherhood/ slightly awkward but totally empowering skill that literally isn’t possible until your body gives birth. I know there are such things as breastfeeding classes that you can take before you give birth, but little pregnant me couldn’t fathom what we would do there.
“Ok everyone, now hold this doll to your breast and pretend to be experiencing excruciating pain.”
“Now here is a nice big piece of sandpaper, practice rubbing it across your nipple”
“Here’s a puppy, put it under a blanket and attempt to wrestle to to your chest. This is to simulate breastfeeding in public with a cover. Oh, and every so often fling the cover towards your head and flash everyone in a 10 mile radius.”
“Douse yourself with this water. The baby somehow managed to spit up on your hair, up your nose, down your nursing tank top, and into your socks.”
“Now everyone go home and do this every 15 minutes to 2 hours. Good luck”
Not to say a breastfeeding class would not have been helpful. An hour after I gave birth when the nurse asked me if I wanted to try breastfeeding, and I looked at her with what was undoubtedly an expression of sheer terror, I guarantee you she was thinking “Great. Another one who skipped the class”.
She called in the Mormon nurse/ mom of 12 who was so experienced she could probably make powerade come out of her boobs, to give me a crash course.
I can say with utmost certainty that none of the words that she was saying entered into my doped up pain med brain and my body that was entering into post-birth shock.
The only thing I retained was “Hold it like a hamburger”, and even that had mixed results because I wasn’t entirely sure if she meant the baby or my boob.
Fast forward to the first 48 hours of being home. I don’t remember much of those first days besides Eric taking 20 years to change a diaper, getting peed on, and crying every day out joy for this new life, and whenever we ran out of chocolate.
Then one day I looked at myself in the mirror and actually screamed. “ERIC. WHY DO I LOOK LIKE A 40 YEAR OLD STRIPPER.”
Hello, milk coming in.
So it turns out when the human bottle is the size of a child’s helmet, the nipple is flattened to the point that the baby has nothing to latch on to. Seb would head bang my chest repeatedly while I tried in vain to latch him onto nothing.
When he would finally get a hold of something to put his hungry little mouth on, the torrential downpour of milk would shoot him in the face like a college bro shotgunning a PBR. After he drank from the land flowing with milk, probably wondering why it tasted like a St. Patrick’s day meal, I would bring him up to my shoulder to burp, triumphant, and he would proceed to defiantly vomit on me.
One of the things I researched for engorgement was cabbage leaves, so you better believe I hollered to Eric that we needed another Starbucks and Fry’s run, and he came back with a cabbage. Every night I would wear whole cabbage leaves on my boobs like a a pathetic, post-partum Ariel.
Around this time we both started waking up in the middle of the night sweating profusely, and, because were (are) clueless, sleep starved, new parents, we attributed it not the influx of hormones coursing through my body, but to the cabbage. From our room I could hear Eric in the kitchen in the middle of the night muttering under his breath as he viciously chopped up cabbage leaves, “sdfsdljfkd….sweat all night….jeirjijfsjdkjhsjns….F****** cabbage”.
A few days later we were sitting in a lactation consultants office with a woman who gave off the vibe that she would be a very good fortune teller gypsy. It didn’t help her cause that she smelled so strongly of garlic that I’m fairly certain she must have bathed in it. We were there for Seb to have his tongue tie looked at, and while we were talking I mentioned in casual desperation that I was a little bit engorged.
She asked to see, which at this point didn’t even faze me. In the months leading up to having a baby and after, more people ask for you to take off pieces of clothing than in the most rowdy game of strip poker.
She gasped in horror looking at my milk dispensary units, and shout/screamed “SOMEONE GET THIS WOMAN A PUMP!!!!!”. There were, of course, in this time of great need, no pumps to be found in a LACTATION consultants office.
She instructed me to immediately go home and pump, you poor dear. She kept looking from my boobs to my face with not even an attempt to hide her alarm. “They are like boulders” she kept saying, poking them with her head cocked to the side in fascination. “They are as hard as boulders.”
Definitely something you want to hear about your most cherished womanly feature.
Besides being off to a ROCKY start, breastfeeding is now one of the best things I have ever done. I’ve done it standing. Eating. Sleeping. Putting on makeup. Vacuuming. Cooking. Sorting laundry. Talking to the mailman.
It’s something only I can do for Seb, and when he looks up at me with those huge blue eyes, and gives me his award winning smile before burrowing his face to my chest, it’s worth the fact that my nipples will literally never recover.