Monday, March 20, 2006

The Milkman Cometh...

Marcus is three days old today. Already, I can tell this maternity leave is going to be a million times better than my first. I actually got out of the house twice today... once completely on my own to take Athena to school, and once with Chris to pick her up. It's not that I didn't have help last time... but last time, with the millions of stitches and the great pain I was experiencing, I couldn't leave the house. I was on driving restrictions, first of all, and then I was so baffled by breast vs. bottle, I was afraid to leave Athena for five minutes in case she got hungry and someone was forced to (deep intake of breath) give her formula from a bottle.

However, with age and experience comes wisdom. I know breastfeeding is the best thing for a baby, but I also know that a bit of formula here and there won't kill him. As long as I can keep up production, all is good. Which brings me to the real topic-du-jour... my transformation from woman to cow.

There is a lot of propaganda out there about breastfeeding, and many organizations will have you believe that it is a magical experience unequal to any other experience you will ever have in your life. In fact, just by the nature of this post, I'm sure I will attract one or two breastmilk zealots who will leave comments to that effect. But let's talk turkey, folks. There is nothing glamorous or wickedly magical about breastfeeding. It is about as "just a fact of life" as you can get. And don't even get me started on the pump... which is really just every torture implement from the middle ages all rolled into one and pushed on poor, hapless working moms who just want to do what's best for their baby. (Okay, I guess I got myself started).

Anyway, today, my milk came in. The factory opened for business. Marcus was able to get a square meal off of me rather than just the "premilk" which is really just oil and fat that he had been previously enjoying. Hooray for milk! Nevermind that now my breasts are achy and there is a lump in one that could quite possibly signify a clogged duct that may or may not work itself out before it becomes infected. Or perhaps I could share with you the burning sensation I get when Marcus hasn't eaten in a while letting me know that he better do so soon or I may explode. No no... let's not talk about any of that. We'll stick to the glamour and the magic.

... um... well, he's pretty cute when he eats. I suppose that's kind of magical. And after he eats, he's on such a milk high that he sleeps with his little mouth hanging wide open. That's pretty neat. um.... well... oooooookay... end magic here I suppose.

So now I am in the full throes of motherhood. Marcus was up every two hours last night, and now I have tender, although large, breasts that may or may not end up leaking. I'm also still bleeding from labor and delivery (that's something they don't tell you in health class... some women bleed for SIX WEEKS. Bah, humbug). So... do you think I'm sexy?!

Fortunately, I am not going through the horrible self-esteem problems that breastfeeding brought on last time. This time, my transformation to bovine beauty happened without so much as a blink on my part. I am cow, hear me roar. Last time, I felt awful knowing that my main purpose in life was to have a baby hanging off my breast. This time, I am able to shrug and just do it without really thinking much about how it looks or what it means. In fact, I'm comfortable enough to share it with all of YOU, and I'm sure you are very glad I did.

Is breastfeeding magical? No. But having a baby and nourishing it and watching it grow and smile those little gassy smiles... that, my friends, is magical. So for those of you about to embark on this whole breastfeeding adventure for the first time... focus on the big picture. If you are feeling down and cow-like, just moo and be happy.


Sophie said...

Elise is not here yet and Brian has already dubbed me the "dairy bar". Magical experience? I don't know, but I will definitely give it a try. Sounds like Marcus is a happy and good baby, can't wait to meet him. I love him already :) Big hugs to all of you!

Jessey said...

My kid is having what they call "frequency days" which basically means he wants to feast at my bosom every hour on the hour, regular life be damned.
I tolerated this yesterday, and for most of today, knowing that it was growth spurt related and it would build up my supply and blah blah blah...
but after six or seven or eight straight hours of nursing and crying and nursing, I HAD to give him a bottle.
And even THAT didn't make him took a ride in the car to give me some peace, he's going on three hours sleep right now, the first three hours he's slept since he woke at 6 am, hungry and fussy.
I hate frequency days!

Oh, and congrats!!
Big girl and little boy, we're in the same boat!

Cathy said...

Hilarious!! I had long forgotten the "magic" of breastfeeding. Thank goodness!! I'm so glad it's you and not me. Also very glad the second time around seems to be less stressful for you.

Amy said...

Yes, that is what I fear about breastfeeding! That and I really don't think my husband will be able to look at them the same way again. Already he doesn't seem thrilled when I say, "And what will you do when we're fooling around and whoops! don't worry honey, it's just a bit of milk on your face!"

And my mom told me about the six weeks bleeding thing. I think it was her way of scaring me off sex.

Jeanette said...

God, I remember when my milk came in. Went to bed with nice, albeit HUGE, supple breasts and woke up to two enormous rocks sprouting from my chest. Oh yes, the joy of milk coming in. And I have to agree that there is nothing really magical about breast feeding--I didn't even get the joy of a happily nursing kid. Lina just screamed and rooted and ended up getting so frustrated that I wound up pumping for a month just to give her bottles of breastmilk before switching entirely to formula. Gah! The things they don't tell you about motherhood!

eaf said...

Sophie - There are certainly worse things he could call you. Chris ran through them all until he realized just how icky it really was. However, we do joke about it, frequently... I mean, what else can you do?

Jessey - GAH! Cluster feedings suck. Athena wanted to do NOTHING but feed when she was born. We had to supplement with formula just so I could go to the bathroom. I really didn't think I would make it with her. And yes! I was reading your blog to Chris last night (about the BabyRub) and I described Elizabeth as "Jessey's Athena."

Amy - There is nothing less sexy than a breastfeeding woman. AS for fooling around, I doubt Chris would touch them in their current state. Little too freaky. And your mother was very smart to scare you off that way.

J - I loved your blog entry when you explained why you gave up breastfeeding. I believe you put it most succinctly when you said, "Bite me."

Cathy said...

Future Moo!

I have so much to look forward to. At five months, I feel like my boobs and my belly are in a race. (The boobs are still winning, for now.) I find it hard to believe that they can get bigger. At least I have you guys to prepare me for the reality of it all.

Jessey said...

I think most preschoolers are eeriely similar, mostly in their irrational thought process and unflagging need for attention. When WE applied the BabyRub to Elizabeth we told her it would make her feel better, I can only assume that when she woke up feeling crappy she remembered what we said and went straight for the feel-good goo.
I just can't believe that Bob didn't smell the application process in process, that stuff is STRONG!

Chris said...

Yeah, Athena has the same thought process - only we told her the shower will make her feel better when she's congested - so when she doesn't feel well, she comes up to me as says "shower". She then orders me to sit (we have separate shower and tub, and the shower has a seat) and she sits on my lap and just basks in the hot water. She has fallen asleep many times like that.