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.