Breastfeeding’s awesome, but…

It’s not always neat or pretty.

The act of breastfeeding is beautiful. It’s amazing that I can provide for my baby with my body. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch the expression of complete contentment wash over his face as he nurses. That being said, it’s not a breeze either.

I’ve had just about every breastfeeding issue under the sun with both of my children. When Dylan was a baby, I had mastitis, ummm… about three times. Actually, it was at least three times, probably more like four or five.

I also had a reoccurring milk blister that started around the time D started sleeping through the night. Guess what age that fun started?

That’s right… seven months.

How old is Wyatt?

See where I’m going with this?

Since W’s birth, I’ve had clogged ducts and the beginnings of mastitis more times than I can count. Every.single.time I think I’m done, I have another issue.

Just to clarify, what I mean by “the beginnings of mastitis” is: I have a warm, red, sore area on my breast and I feel like I’m getting sick.

Today, as I sit here, I’m struggling to stay awake. I’m getting mastitis again, thanks to TWO milk blisters (one on each side) that won’t go away. I have no idea what to do to fix this disaster that is my body right now other than what I always do: eat as well as possible, take garlic and echinacea supplements, drink plenty of fluids, use warm compresses, get some fresh air and try to rest.

Rest… haha! “Try” being the operative word.

Honestly? As much as I want to be optimistic and power through, I’m tired. I’m a little sick of the discomfort. I’ve definitely had enough of the wincing in pain when either of the boys accidentally hits the affected area. I would love to call it quits right now.

I’m not really ready to give up yet, though. Not because I want to martyr myself, but because I know this is only a stage. I’ve been here before and it got better (like I talked about in this post).

Why am I telling you this? Because I think it’s important for other moms to know that breastfeeding hasn’t been easy for me either. I’m not sure it’s truly easy for anyone.

I love breastfeeding because, someday, I’ll look back without regret and only remember the moments of serenity when I was able to provide nutrients for my child. At least that’s my hope. But if it gets to be too much, I’m not afraid to stop. All I can do is try. I’m not super human and I don’t think anyone expects me to be.

Striking nerves and breastfeeding

I don’t know how to put myself out there without ruffling feathers.  I wish I did, but I don’t.

I’ve heard bloggers lament over this same problem more times than I can count.  How do I put my heart and emotions out there and let people in, without alienating someone?  There’s always a way to construe what others write as personal, no matter how it’s intended.  I can easily read any blog post on any blog and make it about me whether or not that person even.knows.me.

I feel strongly about so many “controversial” topics including: Breastfeeding and natural childbirth among others.  I feel strongly about educating people about their options in these areas.  I want to continue to advocate for women as others did before me because they made a difference in my life.   But how are we supposed to learn from each other if we’re so quick to shut people out?

It’s like the quote, “The devil knows the bible better than any man.”  Words can be twisted if they’re not read with the right heart.  A sincere apology can sound fake.  A post about a personal struggle can sound like an attack.  It’s amazing what can be misconstrued when the inflections in one’s voice can’t be heard and we’re not willing to give the writer the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t want to shove anything down anyone’s throat.  I especially don’t want to make any mother feel bad about the educated decisions she’s already made.  All I want is for women to know their options in a world where we’re so often told what to do.  I want women to know that one doctor’s word is not always the final word.  And when it comes to breastfeeding, I want women to know that there is a difference between formula and breast milk and to have a shot at breastfeeding.

Last week, NYC Mayor Bloomberg made a decision, as part of the “Latch On NYC” initiative, to monitor the distribution of formula in hospitals and do away with the formula goody bags women receive when leaving.  I found the reactions confusing.  Several women were quoted as feeling the Mayor had no right to make such a decision.  They felt he was forcing the issue and that women don’t need more pressure on them.  I agree that women don’t need more pressure, but I’m confused because isn’t that the point of the initiative?  To stop that?

After having a baby, women are at their most vulnerable.  The world feels more uncertain than ever and every.single.comment made by a woman’s healthcare provider can make her question even the most thoroughly researched decision.  Hell every “no mommy” said by my toddler brought me close to tears.  Think about what the availability of formula during a hospital stay and the take-home goody bag say to new mothers who already want to breastfeed.  It’s like saying, “ok, go ahead and try to breastfeed, but here’s the formula for when you fail.”  I mean, really, the hospital staff may as well laugh in mothers’ faces.

I think Mayor Bloomberg deserves a standing ovation for handing power back to mothers.  He’s not taking away formula.  He’s requiring women to ask for it so it’s not being shoved down their throats.  Isn’t that what we all want?  The freedom to choose what’s best for us and our babies!  I understand the guttural reaction we all have when we hear something’s being “taken away”.  But how about just taking a step back and thinking about the mayor’s intention for a minute?  This is the same guy who’s done away with smoking in bars, trans-fats in city restaurants, and over-sized soda sales.  None of these decisions were popular at first, but don’t you think he’s trying to help make his city a healthier place?  Can’t we just give him the benefit of the doubt that his heart’s in the right place?

Throwing my opinion out there on this week’s mommy controversy.

I don’t have a whole lot of spare time these days, but I do have an iPhone and a radio.  I know about this Time magazine cover:

I wasn’t going to say anything, but let’s face facts: I’m not great at keeping my opinion to myself… ;)

Ok, I’ll join the crowd in acknowledging that the cover photo’s meant to stir the pot.  I don’t have a problem with people not liking it.  Or the title and blurb for that matter.

I mean, really?  “Are you mom enough?”?!  Nope, I’m not.  I’m pretty sure I never will be in my own eyes.  But I hope I am in my child’s.

I do have a problem with comments like “breastfeeding past a year is gross/sexual”, “cosleeping is weird/wrong/dangerous”, and “breastfeeding in public is inappropriate”.  It really doesn’t matter what you think, it’s no one else’s business how long I nurse my child or if I co-sleep because they’re both safe decisions that can lead to a happy, healthy, well adjusted child.  Yes, co-sleeping can be done safely and most people who do it, know how to do it safely.

It’s also really beyond me that anyone could find breastfeeding a toddler sexual.  If that toddler remembers breastfeeding when he’s older, it won’t be with sexual thoughts.  If anything, I think he’ll have more respect for women’s bodies and their amazing abilities beyond the sexual.  Plus, I don’t know about you, but my memories before five years of age are anything but vivid.

I don’t know what I’d call myself.  I have a hard enough time committing to the same brand of coffee, nonetheless one method of parenting. I believe my methods generally adhere to the Attachment Parenting method.  We planned our children, we had a home-birth, we co-sleep to some extent, I breastfeed, I pump so Hubby can feed with a bottle (or he can try to anyway), we make informed medical decisions, we try to eat organic when possible, we use an ergonomic, soft structured baby carrier (the FreeHand Baby Carrier™ by togetherbe) and a Moby wrap (both pictured to the right).  These aren’t rules we went to some “extreme” to follow, though.

I always saw AP parenting as just going with your instincts and respecting your children as individuals with valid thoughts and feelings.  No rules and not “extreme parenting”.

I occasionally still breastfeed my toddler.  Only when he asks and only after offering to make him tea or warm milk instead.  So basically, when he nurses, it’s because he really needs the comfort.  It’s certainly not for me.  I have my breast exposed plenty with my newborn, thank you.  Pulling my shirt up to nurse, yet again, when I finally have a break is pretty much the last thing on earth I really feel like doing.  I do it because I feel it’s something he needs and I don’t want an insecure child.  That’s not a judgement on someone who weaned their child earlier.  I’m just doing what I think is best for my child based on his individual, unique personality.

I don’t really think my views are going to change the minds of the people who think co-sleeping, breastfeeding a toddler, or breastfeeding in public at all are inappropriate or “gross”.  And that’s ok.  I’d just prefer if those people didn’t feel the need to be so outspoken about their feelings.  There are plenty of things I don’t agree with, but as so many people have already said, it’s better if parents can support each other rather than picking silly battles to rip each other down over.  We’re all doing our best.

Adjusting, one day at a time

I miss my blog!

I haven’t had much time to write on here lately and I find that frustrating. I plan to start making more time for that soon. As soon as I can get the mess that is me lately together.

This mom of two under three gig is hard!! Wow. I just had no idea of the physical and emotional toll two kids would have on me. Even with a ton of help and support from family and friends, I’m struggling. I’m getting there, but it’s definitely a process. I’ll write more soon, but this is all I really have the energy for right now.

With that, I leave you with a cute video of Little Man singing to Littlest One: