Wednesday , 23 April 2014

I Make Milk, What’s Your Superpower?

I really want a t-shirt with that message.  I think I deserve it.  But then again I feel that the t-shirt should say so much more (but who would read it and would there be enough material?).

My mother did not lie to me about giving birth.  She told me that it would hurt.  But that you always wait for the bigger wave and it never comes.  That you actually want it to hurt more because you know you are one step closer to seeing your child and that when you do, all the pain would be worth it.  She was right.

Mami also did not lie to me about breastfeeding.  Her exact words: it’ll hurt more than labor.  Really, mami? I mean come on.  EVERYONE has heard of labor pains.  I have watched countless movies illustrating this. Not ONCE have I seen anything on television that shows this breastfeeding pain that you’re talking about.  I dismissed the statement though it was filed in the back of my head.

Enter the day of labor (details on this later).  My child is set upon my breast where she roots and finds what she is looking for.  Success!  Maggie, my doula, loves it! She has been preparing me for this.  All looks well.  Except…

It kinda hurts a little.  When I get up to my room, I know JUST what to ask for.  After all, I have done my research.  “Can I get some Lansinoh?” I asked the nurse.  “Already?” she said and looked at me with the side-eye.  I said “yes” with so much determination that I know the look on my face said “I know what I’m doing, okay?”  I’m sure the nurse laughed on the inside and thought, “she won’t last”.  Well, I wish I could find her and tell her HA!  But, I digress.

Where was I? Ah! The pain, yes.  The next day I was visited by the lactation consultant who caught me while I was nursing. “Oh you are doing great!” she said.  And I’m thinking, hmmm, really? Because it hurts a little more.  “The latch is good and she looks like she’s getting colostrum”. I feel successful yet sore.  She then proceeds to tell me that my child will go into this thing called “cluster” feeding that I’d never heard of.  The only thing I know of that includes the word cluster is not a good thing.  Well, that should have been my first clue.

I applied the cream and continued to nurse.  Did I mention that my boob was bigger than my child’s head?  Okay, I should mention that now.  My boobs were glorious and shiny and full of nutrition.  I’d done good.  But my nipples were killing me.  Was I doing something wrong?  No! The lactation consultant said nothing about wrong.  She said good!  She even did magic by taking my nipple and showing me that colostrum was coming out (prior to this I was doubting the whole “there’s food in my boob” bit).  I did hear, several times that if it was hurting then something wasn’t right.  But since she said everything was okay I just kept going.  Through the pain.

Fast forward to four nights after the birth.  I’m home.  I think I have this down.  My nipples are SCREAMING at me.  I imagine they sound like New York City construction workers on a hot afternoon in Manhattan when they are behind on a project. My boobs are the size of cantaloupes.  It hurts when I even think about latching her on.  But I keep nursing.

The man was upset because he does not like to watch me in pain.  His words were something like: I had to watch you go through 40 hours of labor, I can’t take watching you suffer every time you feed her (because Lord knows that the words “it hurt me more than it hurt you” would totally apply here, right? Enter appropriate sarcastic look on my face…now!).

But he doesn’t understand.  I think, “this is what my body is made for”.  This is what I was meant to do in the same way that I always thought my uterus would hold a baby.  I am severely hardheaded.  It’s a condition and I am afraid it’s genetic.  Meanwhile, I am starting to pump.  The man thinks I should sleep more so he wakes up with the child in the middle of the night and let’s me sleep.  Pretty great, right? WRONG!  I would wake up in such pain from my boobs being too full that I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I’d have to get up, put the contraption together and then pump.  That takes a lot more time/energy than latching a leech, I mean, child onto me.

I find the local chapter of La Leche League.  One of the leaders calls me back after an email.  She tells me the one thing no one else had (other than my mother).  It hurts.  She also tells me that it’s probably going to hurt for 6 weeks.  Really?  SIX WEEKS?!  I want to sue all the movies I’ve seen where a mom has lovingly put her child on her breast and continued on with life as if she wasn’t feeling that the child was going to pull her nipple off, spit it out and continue nursing.  I also want to beat all of my friends that have kids until they feel the same pain that I do.  But at least I hear this.  I watch YouTube videos on latching.  I attempt to do what they do.  I continue to lube up with Lansinoh.

Three weeks later, after shedding tears that could’ve filled up my roman tub I call Maggie.  Maggie berates me a little for not having contacted her earlier and gives me a name.  She says “this woman is the best”.  And I think, I don’t know if she can fix this.  I contact Pat, finally. See, the baby has been gaining weight just fine up until now.  So it must be me. The first miracle: she calls me on a Sunday.  The next, she sounds as if this is okay and not as if I am a weakling and perhaps doing this wrong.  When I go see her, Pat informs me that the child is not latching on properly and has only been grabbing the nipple.  Even when she does latch on right, the fact that I have so much milk makes her latch off so that her tongue can control the milk flow thereby making her grab on to the nipple which is causing me pain (thanks to the hot chocolate my mom’s been making me drink – more on that tidbit later – and the fact that I’ve also been pumping it seems that I was making enough milk for twins!).

Pat manhandles me (and didn’t even buy me a drink!) and seamlessly grabs my child’s head and just plops her on. I think “is that child abuse?”  I mean here I’ve been all delicate with the kid and Pat grabs my boob and her head and just BAM.  If she doesn’t latch on right (the baby, not Pat), she simply puts a finger in the side of her mouth and off she comes only to be latched on again.  I watch in awe and wonder if Pat would consider coming home with me.  I didn’t want to ask because at this point I feel like an emotional wreck and am concerned someone will Baker Act me and then who will I nurse in the mental institution and will they let me pump in there?

She sends me off with some great information and a little cream that she conjures up in her office.  Turns out I had a little yeast on my breast and it was causing the pain and some cracking (yeah, did I mention I had cracked nipples?!).  Thankfully, the baby didn’t have thrush.  However, it meant that it would take a while for my nipples to heal.  The thing is, you don’t stop nursing while they do (at least I didn’t.  See hard headed statement above).

Throughout this time, mami kept giving me that look.  You know the one.  But it’s different now.  It’s not just “I told you so”. Being the great mami that she is, the look said, “I told you so, but I wish I could make you feel better”.

So you see, I think I REALLY deserve that t-shirt.  It would say:

I Make Milk

(It caused me a lot of pain (and my mother said it would), I needed a lot of support (thank you Pat for feeling me up and making me a better lactator), I’d totally do it again and plan on telling ALL THE WOMEN I can the truth about boobs as nutritional elements)

What’s Your Superpower?

At work, I pump twice a day.  Though for a while there I was only doing it once because I’d get caught up in the day and oh, let’s not forget the mami brain. Then when I called Pat and wondered where my milk was going her first question was: are you pumping every 2 to 3 hours?  I think she’s had this conversation before.  My office mate and best bud (let’s call her Robin) sits back-to-back with me at opposite ends of the room and gets to hear the melodic err-err-err of my Medela Freestyle when I pump.  She likes to make fun of me and tells anyone who listens that I am milking.  The best giggles out of her come when I am in the middle of pumping and someone knocks on the door and proceeds to turn the knob immediately after (why do they bother knocking, I ask?).  We have a lock, but she still thinks it’s hilarious because then I have to say: “give me a minute!” or lately because hello?! It’s been months and YOU know when the door is closed I am busy I say, “I’m pumping!”  But my revenge is sweet.  Through my sophisticated Jedi mind control, whenever she hears the pump and if she hasn’t gone to the bathroom in the last 10 minutes, it makes her want to pee.  But I don’t let her out because I am pumping so she has to wait until I am done (15 whole minutes!).

Ten months later, I can’t imagine not nursing.  I rush home to make the early evening feeding.  In turn, she waits for me (even if she’s just eaten an hour before).  She will latch on correctly and will look at me while giving me her hand to kiss.  Every once in a while she latches off but now, she does it to smile up at me as if we share a secret.  And then that pain suffered through the first 6 weeks of her life all of a sudden seems worth it (until I am ovulating and then I am reminded of the pain and wonder what the hell I was thinking going through all of that for so long!).

I have conference calls while strapped to my Medela Freestyle, my nipples look like chewed up gummy bears and I’m STILL Mom Sexy!

(A big happy blogoversary to The Mommyologist!)

About Sili

Sili is the owner and Chief Executive Mami of Mamihood Media and My Mamihood. Selected as one of Latina Magazine’s top Blogger to Know in 2014 and Latina Magazine’s top 10 Mommy bloggersin 2013, My Mamihood was described as “a haven for fashion inspiration, baby concerns, must read books and even tech musings! This blog will keep you reading for hours…” When not appearing on top 10 lists or speaking passionately about those things she holds near and dear to hear heart, this Afro Latina loves hanging out with her frog princess, helping others, trash talking in her setting up all-girl Fantasy football leagues, reading and finding new gadgets to play with. She is currently punishing herself by pursuing an MBA with a concentration in social media from Southern New Hampshire University on hiatus from school much to the chagrin of her Type A personality.

24 comments

  1. LOVE it!!! You are so good for sticking with it…I gave up after 2 weeks because of the pain and lack of sleep…and then I intended to pump and just give that to my son in the bottle…but the pump crapped out three days into it!!!

    But milk making boobs DEFINITELY make you Mom Sexy!!! Great post and thanks so much for playing along! McLinky is up on my site now if you want to link up!

  2. OMG, I laughed so hard at SO many points in your story! Hats off to you mami! I’m sorry you had such a hard time in the beginning, but I’m sooooo happy you’ve stuck with it as long as you have. I wish I had the opportunity to breast feed my baby longer than 6 months. That’s all he lasted, then he decided “no more boob” held up a few picket signs and went on strike. :(

    But I know there is nothing like feeling that bond and closeness with your child when nursing. It’s totally worth all the pain and humongous, rock hard boobs! LOL…. It’s definitely a great super power to have. :)

  3. I’m so glad you hung in there, Sili. I think we all assume nursing is going to be some innate talent or knowledge that we’re just born with. I’ve sworn that every baby shower gift I give in the future to any mom that’s want to nurse, will include a lactation consultant’s phone number.

    Thankfully my nursing tears were limited to days and not weeks before I called Pat. After 10 months, I still absolutely adore every single sitting. We share little rituals that make us giggle. I can’t imagine a cooler relationship with my baby. It’s worth all the initial frustration and confusion, pumping and nursing in weird places and, of course, the endless bra stuffing. Wouldn’t change it for the world!

  4. LOL!!! I went through the same thing with breastfeeding. I must say the pitocin contractions were nothing compared to what you feel when your nipples are stinging you. I had flat nipples, and Zurri was awesome, she latched on perfectly did her thing and after the first 24 hrs…lord have mercy. Well one night I wake my husband up at the hospital and tell him to watch the baby so I can go to the bathroom, I come out of the bathroom and… where is my baby! My husband was taking her to the nursery and telling the nurses to feed her formula that night. I felt like a mama bear, I yelled at that nurse and took my baby from her and she says, “your husband said to give her formula,” I rolled my eyes and said, “She is BREASTFED ONLY, I don’t care what my husband says.”
    Once home, my nipples felt like they were on fire the whole time. Thank God for Calendula tincture it worked miracles, a little compound “Tripple Nipple Ointment” and Lansinoh too. My husband would ask as I nursed, “why are you staring at the baby that looks creepy?” I told him that if I looked at the baby while I nursed the pain would not feel like pain, but I would feel nice feelings, but if I looked in another direction I would want to take off running. They stop hurting, but now hurting again because Zurri thinks they are for her itchy gums. If you get the shirts printed, I want one.

  5. Great Mom Sexy post! You rock!

  6. Hahaha, I loooooooooove this post!!! And it *does* hurt! No one talks about that part, it hurts like crazy!! Kinda not looking forward to this again—baby coming in 4 months. Such a cute blog you have!

  7. Can I get one?

    Found your blog through the mommyologist.

  8. i can’t wait for the day when my nipples don’t look like chewed up gummi bears. LOLOL. ;) great post, mami.
    not blessed mama recently posted..My (Weird) BabyMy Profile

  9. What a great post Sili! Not very often have I come across such an honest Breastfeeding reality story (apart from my own hehehe)

    Tiffany was right, you DO rock!
    Have a Super SITS Day, SuperMami!
    xx
    Simone @Greatfun4kids recently posted..Best in Blog – Mummy loveMy Profile

  10. Whahahahahaha! I share your pain! I wish the Bunny had wanted boob for longer. She spat me out at four months on a Thursday and wouldn’t take me back! Just flat out refused. I think she knew she was going to day care the following Monday.
    Student Mom (Jen) recently posted..Five Minute Friday…. on Monday… Because I’m late!My Profile

  11. Best post I have read in a long time! Seriously. Happy Sits Day:)
    bonnie recently posted..Nyx Jumbo Eye PencilMy Profile

  12. No one ever prepares you for the pain of breastfeeding. And how about the leaking? I was like a fountain when the milk came in. The pain and the self-doubting was all worth it though. Thank goodness for lactation consultants!
    another jennifer recently posted..Philanthropy Friday: Generosity As a Business ModelMy Profile

  13. I am so glad that I nursed – however I had no problems at all. Nipples a little sore at first – but I had the breasts that women would pay for —- that came from my lactation consultant!

  14. Ahahahaha – this is excellent! It takes me right back to those first couple times breastfeeding when I was like “are you SURE there’s food in there, because I’m pretty sure I’m not doing this right!” :) Great post, thanks for the laughs!
    Jocelyn | ScooterMarie recently posted..St. Thomas!My Profile

  15. Breast feeding was the most UNnatural and yet natural thing I’ve ever done! And the most pain-filled, satisfying job of mommy-ing. I’m with you there! Such a job and a privilege all wrapped up!

    Visiting from SITS :)
    morgan recently posted..Happy Mother’s DayMy Profile

  16. My son would never latch so I just ended up pumping. At least he was getting EBM and I can still be called a super hero lol.
    krystle recently posted..How to Restring Drawstrings with the EZstringer [Review]My Profile

  17. Audrey
    Twitter: squirkling

    Stopping in from SITS, I love this post. Great point and yes, total superpower. I might have to make myself a tee that says that now. ;)
    Audrey recently posted..planter garden stones tutorialMy Profile

  18. I was a superhero with my first kid too! Bravo for hanging in there. I am too wiped out to share the whole story but after 51 hours of labor, not latching on was just icing on the cake. But with the help of a lactation consultant, he got breast milk. Second kid – no problems. Go figure.
    Beth (OMG! Yummy) recently posted..Celebrating Four Generations on Mother’s DayMy Profile

  19. Brittany
    Twitter: ClumpsOfMascara

    I needed the truth behind breast feeding but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified about loosing the plumpness of my DD’s. Yes, vain I know and I REALLY want to breastfeed my child because that’s what these boobies are for (well that and free oil changes and appetizers…ha!) but I hear that they just aren’t the same after breastfeeding. That chokes me up a bit. *tears*
    Brittany recently posted..Cult Nails Cult Fairy Tale collectionMy Profile

  20. This is such a familiar story. I stumbled across this post on my google wanderings, and couldn’t stop reading. My little girl drank about 10 minutes after she was born, and the next day I had cracks half a cm wide on both nipples. It took 8 weeks for them to heal and for the pain to subside. I was the same as you: totally hard-headed. Never even pumped and the LO wouldn’t nurse if I had the nipple guards on. Now, lots of tears and 7 months later, I’m thrilled I stuck it out and enjoy feeding her so much!
    But yeah, my 24h labor before epidural was nothing compared to the breastfeeding. My midwife told me that “maybe the pain is just something you have to go through so your nipples can toughen up.” In my case, she was right.

    • Sili
      Twitter: mymamihood

      So glad you stuck it out. And very glad you found me. Hope your nipples are feeling better. Yay for you for sticking it out. Know that you are not alone, my friend. Hugs and healthy nipples to you!

      oxoxox

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