Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mama Bean wins some breastfeeding battles, and loses others

We ate in bed today. That's what mothers dream of, right? Breakfast in bed? Only this was Bean's breakfast, so maybe that doesn't count. But I have dreamt about it. The midwife showed me this lovely little picture of all the positions you can use for breastfeeding - cradle, football, side-lying, etc. I was so tickled by the Worlds of Possibility to unfold upon my loving breast, as we cuddled and bonded and passed the very Stuff of Life (love and milk, naturally) between us. I did dream, yes, of feeding in bed as hazy morning light filtered through the draperies.

Well, that didn't happen. Which is totally fine, because let's face it, the point is not to create Hallmark tableaux of soft-lit motherhood, the point is to get sugar and fat and protein and water (and vitamins and antibodies, yeah yeah) into the child to allow the child to live. And I have done that with relative ease, nipple shields notwithstanding. But I did continue hoping that, once he was a bit bigger, once he was controlling his head more, once he stopped needing the nipple shield, we could try it. Mostly, I want to stay in my bed as much as possible, because it is comfy and warm and I am a wimp.

So we tried it, and it went okay. I mean, he ate, there wasn't much mess. It was a little awkward, I had trouble burping him. It was not as comfortable, but was as warm, as I hoped. I'm in no hurry to do it again. But at least I know I can.

Morning feedings are my favourite, actually, even when they come earlier than I'd like. First, my breasts are really full, which makes me feel Powerful and Capable and Motherly. Second, this means it feels good when Bean nurses. When Bean came out of me, I thought to myself, "I never knew what relief felt like until now." Nursing on an engorged breast is also a unique-to-mama-hood kind of relief. Third, Bean is still sleepy, so he's calm and lays quietly and just eats, fifteen or twenty minutes straight, and I can doze or whatever. Pet his hair. Fourth, he is warm from his bed. Fifth, I sit and plan my day, which makes me feel Efficient. I hold efficiency at a premium, it's just part of my personality, something I value and strive for and achieve, usually. Less so, now, with the utterly-dependent-creature happening. But I still try. In the morning, everything seems possible. Sixth (is this getting to be too many?) there is, in fact, sunlight filtering through the trees in our neighbor's yard, which causes flickers and flutters and makes everything kind of glow. Glowing is an important part of bringing me happiness.

Bean's two morning feedings and his night feeding are about the only ones I can count on being 30 minutes anymore. The rest of his daytime feedings are getting more battle-some. He eats anywhere from 6 to 20 minutes, and fusses in between. He struggles and kicks and claws with his little razor nails at my breast. I keep them trim, I do, but it happens regardless, tiny little razor nicks all over my boobs. In general, his feeding shenanigans are pretty cute, though. He like to look up and smile and giggle a little. He likes to look around. Sometimes he very blithely returns to the nipple, like a wine taster, the little snob. Sometimes he just opens wide and crashes on, and I love to see that joy. Here is unfettered Love of Food (and me!), and I support his gluttony on all accounts. My favourite is when his little leg curls up over my other breast, like he's wrapping himself as close to my chest as possible. It's basically his coup de grace, I cannot resist, I cuddle as close as I can.

So that's the update on breastfeeding this week. I will try to not make every Tuesday a state-of-the-nipple address. Maybe next week we can talk about poo!

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