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April 24, 2009

If You Don't Like the Weather

Mind if I talk about my boobs for a sec? Thanks.

All told, breastfeeding has been a great experience for us. Wombat took to it easily and, after those first few days of wincing not just as he latched on but whenever I ventured to think about him latching on, so did I. It worked the way everyone tells you it's supposed to, which, I have to admit came as a total shock because, ripe and raw with secondhand horror stories, I was just sure I'd be one among the vocal thousands whose boobs and/or baby didn't work for one reason or another or maybe all of the reasons put together.

But it worked. I fed, he ate, the end.

Everyone talks about what a beautiful bonding experience nursing is and although, yes, there is something wonderful and empowering about watching one's body do such astounding things (I'm feeding someone! with my boob! am superhero!), it really isn't about the How but the Who and the What. I'm sure that bottle-feeding/-fed parents/children bond in similar ways just due to the nature of the process: nestling in together for a warm snack; what's not to fall in love with?

(I just realized that "nestle" is spelled the same as Nestlé, as in a top producer of infant formula. Thought they'd fool us with that accent ague, did they? Well...almost.)

Anyhoo, as concerns the claim that food = boob = mommy = bonding, I don't even think Wombat understands my relationship to the boobs. I always seem to be around when they are, but that's probably just coincidence, right? I guess I just can't help but think that if he actually got the whole boobs=mommy thing he'd show more enthusiasm over my presence, or at least as much enthusiasm as he shows over Simon's. I provide his life-giving sustenance, for pete's sake; surely that deserves as much love and respect and full-bodied glee as his father's ability to make funny faces. These days Daddy is teh awesome and Mommy is...yep, still there, right where you left her. (Then again, I'm a fool if I expected parenthood to come with a sidecar of gratitude, right?)

Now that we've started feeding Wombat "solids" (see also: non-solid gruel), feeding is definitely less about me and mine, which is both a blessing and a curse. On the happy-face side, I don't have suckle an angry wildebeast at tapped-out tap every evening; I can plop him down in his bouncer and shovel dribbly oatmeal into his shriek-hole and everyone's happy so long as there are no pauses between bites. On the sad-face side, though, he seems to want boob less these days--meaning the last two days, which, I KNOW, overreact much?, wait five minutes and the weather will change, platitude, platitude, blah, but hear me out because this isn't what you think it's about.

For once, this is not about my emotions.(!!) I'm not feeling sad that he's rejecting me or growing too old to nurse or anything like that. It's that when he doesn't feed, my chest hurts. Not my heart, my chest. These last two days I've been engorged like a newbie, and no matter what I do, Wombat doesn't seem to want to help a sister out. (How dare he think that breastfeeding is about HIM, right?)

All the books and websites say ominous things like "the start of solid foods usually marks the end of breastfeeding" (subtext: *tsk tsk* if you introduce rice cereal before six months), but now that we have the pediatrician's a.o.k. to continue with the rice cereal (and baby oatmeal and mixed-grain mush, and then fruits and veggies and double bacon cheeseburgers, oh my!), there's no going back to a diet of strictly milk. It was awesome while it lasted (breastfeeding, if it works right, is stupidly convenient; having baby food literally on (or actually in) your person at all times means one less thing to forget to pack in the diaper bag, and one less pain in the ass in the wee hours when you'd rather be sleeping), but if this is the beginning of the end, so be it. Just...can we do it without turning my barely-Bs into rock-hard DDs in the process?

While I was pregnant, I never noticed that big of a difference in my chest size--I wore my regular bras for the duration, although with a band extender to account for the rib spreading--so it wasn't until I woke up with big juicy (organic!) melons three days postpartum that I knew what all the fuss was about. And boy did I ever fuss! But then I waited five minutes and the weather changed and my kid started to really feed and my boobs were no longer of cartoon proportions and all was well throughout the land. And there was much rejoicing. (Huzzah!) Granted, once Wombat started sleeping for eight-hour stretches, I'd still wake up looking like R. Crumb's fantasy babe, but even that was small beans compared to this: a boob strike. All day today it's been two sucks and then he turns away to look at that thing! over there! the thing making noise! the thing that looks like Daddy! oh, it is Daddy! Hi, Daddy! *smile smile smile* And then two more sucks until a cat click-clacks across the tile or gangsta boom car rumbles by or a butterfly flaps its wings in a rainforest in Tibet. Two sucks + two sucks does not a meal make, my little friend.

I was led to believe that my milk supply would regulate after a few months and I wouldn't have the engorged/leaking/engorged/leaking/engorged/leaking problem of the early months, but I don't think this is what they meant. It seems my supply has indeed regulated, but it's regulated at Level: Army, meaning I could feed an entire army with these puppies dawgs. My cups runneth over and the baby's all "but I don't want to eat from a 'cup,' I want to eat from a spooooooooon!" What to do? Pump for sweet relief and hope the strike is temporary? Tell Wombat that he can't go out to play until he cleans his dinner plate? Send photos to Playboy for their kind consideration? Or just wait five minutes for the weather to change?

(Subtext: Heat wave is over. Woke up to foggy skies and misty air. Wore a sweater inside the house. Self to self: Told you so!)

26 Comments

How are you writing from the future?!

It's a case of the "distractables". It could last a few days, or in the case of my daughter, a few months. She's 6.5 months and unless she's starving (seldom), I still can only nurse her in a very quiet spot (home, in the magic chair with the door closed). Anywhere else and it's still *suck*, *suck* "what's that?", "who's there?", "is that the wall?".

Other mom friends have assured that it passes, but I'm resolved to being in this for the long run.

Ah yes. I wish you pain-less dis-engorging. It sucks when they don't suck. I've heard cabbage leaves in the bra help a mama out, never tried 'em, though.

I've run into that problem a few times with my 7 month old. Usually I can get him to empty mine before bedtime but it's probably just a temporary "strike" and he will resume nursing in a day or so. I've found that since I started solids that my son has been waking up more at night to nurse, which does not make a happy mama. Personally, I'd pump if I was so engorged that I was leaking again. It's a horrible feeling!

I'm struggling with the same thing right now! Baby loves to eat 'real' food and have his boobs but my body hasn't regulated yet and every morning I wake up in a pool of my own milk.

Teej--Because I'm magic!

Amy--Not the distractables! Up until now I've been able to nurse while working a party, and now you're saying I might have to retire to a quiet room? I'm so not looking forward to that. (Do they make sensory-deprivation helmets for infants?)

Elizabeth--I've heard that too, although I've also heard that what cabbage leaves do is reduce the engorgement by reducing the supply. Don't know if it's true or not, but I don't think we're ready to test it out quite yet.

Jessica--I hope not! If he starts waking up at night I don't know what I'll do. He's just discovered a new way to scream so the windows rattle, and that's quite enough disruption in our lives for right now, thanks.

Andrea--I feel your pain. And your puddle.

Yes, I was a leaky gal throughout breastfeeding. Besides the whole solids thing, is Wombat also getting distracted while nursing? He seems to be at the age where he will be less likely to hunker down and get the job done. Too much is going on in the world.

I remember when my daughter realized that it was ME behind the boobage. Her eyes got HUGE as if to say "It's been YOU all along??" I will never forget that expression.

Regarding solids, my doctor was always of the opinion that solids were a skill to be learned during the first year, not a big source of nutrition.

Pump, my dear. Pump. At least a little to make yourself feel better and save it to mix into his cereal that he loves so very much. Or to put into a bottle for beloved daddy to give him. I was hesitant to pump because everyone says that it will tell your bod to make more milk and perversely make it worse in the long run. But, a little pumping goes a long way to relieve porn-star-boob syndrome. And it doesn't really make it worse in my experience.

Enjoy the sweet relief!

Looks like a classic case of "you can't have your boobs and eat big boy food too." Or can you?!? I am not a mom, but I would pump. He'll come back to the boob. And when he does, you'll be ready!

I agree - PUMP. You can always freeze it for later. Or start bottle feeding. I had to do that with my son at 5.5 months because he was too distracted. His problem wasn't stopping and looking away, but whipping his head away to look at whatever caught his attention WHILE STILL LATCHED ON. ouchie. With bottles, the flow is also faster so they get more milk quicker.

Just a thought. Hopefully it's just a temporary phase and he'll get back to his normal level of suckage. :) Definitely pump because if you let it go and your milk starts to decrease and then he suddenly wants A FULL BOOB'S WORTH, you'll have a different problem on your hands: a hungry unsatisfied kid.

Pump only if you want to keep producing and feeding him boob milk. Your boobs will ease up in about a week or 2, just self-express in the shower for intermediate relief. The more you pump, the more signals your jugs receive to produce more to keep up with supply and demand. BUT if you want to stay away from having to buy formula, then pump and bag it. My son just couldn't get satiated off the boob alone and was going through growth spurts at a pretty heavy clip so I started supplementing with formula so my boobs would be full enough when he was hungry (especially for those midnight feedings). I actually like the ease of formula better as I found it difficult to fit pumping in my schedule, being a single mom, so he's strictly on that now and boobs belong to me again. Sweet.

I actually do pump regularly (at work and so we have something to mix with his cereal), so that's not the issue. The issue is that if Wombat is going to be eating less from me, I don't want my boobs to keep making more more more. Already we have enough frozen breastmilk to last us for months (especially since he still doesn't really understand how to drink from a bottle and will only take about five ounces all day while I'm at the office). I think it's just what Amy and Cagey are saying--he's too distracted by the wonderful world to concentrate on the boob. I can only hope it's just a phase...

I have no good ideas, sorry. If you do keep pumping and it's excessive, though, you can always donate the breastmilk to a place like Milkin' Mamas so that preemies in NICU can have what Wombat's turning away from.

I had problems with engorgement early on, and one thing that really helped me was cabbage leaves. Put a cold, raw cabbage leaf in each of your bra cups against your breasts, and it will not only feel soothing, but it should help reduce your milk supply. Leave them in until they get warm and start to wilt, and then put new ones in when you need to. Apparently there's something in cabbage that helps reduce swelling. I know Heather from Dooce.com also swore by cabbage leaves when she was weaning.

I second the cabbage leaf recommendation. Worked wonders for me in the early days of breastfeeding. Feels strange but hey, it works!

Also, oatmeal and Guiness beer are great for increasing your milk supply, so avoid these things.

Finally, go easy on the pumping. Pump enough to relieve the discomfort but no more, otherwise you are just creating more demand which will create more supply. Probably not what you want!

I second the cabbage leaf recommendation. Worked wonders for me in the early days of breastfeeding. Feels strange but hey, it works!

Also, oatmeal and Guiness beer are great for increasing your milk supply, so avoid these things.

Finally, go easy on the pumping. Pump enough to relieve the discomfort but no more, otherwise you are just creating more demand which will create more supply. Probably not what you want!

I am 2 months post partum and have a DD chest as it is. When Sarah decides to sleep thru the night..I end up with boobs so big they don't fit into the F cups of the nursing bra's. At two months, Sarah has not yet had solids but periodically she will go on strike and not eat for a couple of extra hours and then OMG let the fun begin. Luckily I have an awesome Medela pump that provides that sweet sweet relief :)

This post brings back memories of my own first breast feeding experience...and I want to go through all that again???

Sugar I just pumped and froze the stuff for Ron (eg. later on). Then he's still getting boob milk with his rice paste, your boobs'll feel better and all is well. I'd just pump and go. You can always donate your milk to the local hospital for babies who need breast milk whose mommies can't for whatever reason breast feed?

btw - look at his BLOND hair!!!! :)
xxx

Can we just ponder for a moment the first person to try out this cabbage thing? Like, gal runs out of nursing pads and is like "hmm, wonder if these cabbage leaves will do the trick"??

If you're going to blog about your hooters, the least you can do is post pictures of them. Especially if you're going to insist on boring us with a full-length essay about them.

Honestly, show some courtesy to your readership!

njfmyW

I found a link to your web site on another blog, and I must say... Your web site is tons better. You explain things better, thanks

The blog was how do i say it... relevant, finally something that helped me. Thanks:)

Exactly where did you get your theme? Your sit is beautiful.

Hi there my name is Karen and I am currently embarking on trying to cultivate a food share program specializing in preserved goods in winnipeg. I would love to get involved in your program, and possibly volunteer for the fruit share board of directors. I am just getting started in my research and development of my program and I would love to chat with you and learn the ins and outs of Fruit share. Please let me know how I can help! Thanks.
Karen.

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