I am a planner. I love to research and make a plan well in advance for most things that I do. When we were engaged, I read over 20 books on marriage (no joke). Plus, I enrolled us in numerous premarital counseling sessions and Bible studies at our church. During my pregnancy, I was reading 4 pregnancy books at the same time in addition to the multiple websites I consulted on a regular basis. We hit up 3 parenting classes at the hospital and at church. I like to know what I'm getting myself into and have a plan of action (or many options to a plan, hence getting so much information from many different sources).
So why I never read a book on breast feeding or sought out any information on the subject baffles me. I thought it would be pretty cut and dry. Offer baby a boob and baby would eat from said boob. Sounded easy enough to me.
Nursing my baby was the thing I could not wait to do while I was pregnant. I wanted to experience nursing more than anything. Please tell me I'm not the only one who "breast fed" my baby dolls when I was a little girl. When she arrived, I asked JD to get everyone out of the room so I could nurse. I let my mom watch the entire birth but letting her watch me nurse seemed too personal. Beatrice latched on right away and nursed like a pro. The nurses told me to feed her every 2 hours. I took this to mean every 2 hours, no later or sooner. We went home and my breast feeding journey began.
I heeded the nurses' advice and fed her every 2 hours. Never later, never sooner. This is why I should have read a book; newborns can feed several times in an hour. It's how you build your milk supply. It never occurred to me to feed her more than what I was told. The more alert she got, the more aggressive she became with nursing. And there's a good chance she might have been starving........mothering doesn't always come naturally to me.
I was told that nursing my baby would be the most beautiful bonding experience of my life. She would sweetly nuzzle into me and stroke my face while staring into my eyes. Um, that would have been really nice. My child came at me like a shark in a feeding frenzy.
I call her my little nurse shark. She would attack me, grabbing and pinching anywhere that her little hands could grab and diving face first with her head going side to side on my boob, all the while her legs were kicking up a storm. This frightened me, to say the least. This wasn't what my mommy friends described their nursing experiences to be like.
I had to have JD "assist" me with the crazy attack latch on. I've never really told anyone in detail this before. I am partly ashamed that I couldn't handle my newborn on my own and a wee bit scared of the reaction others would give. JD would have to restrain Beatrice's hands and direct her head toward the target while I held her wiggly body still. Yes, you read that correctly. It took 2 grown adults to breast feed a 9 pound infant. Every time. If Beatrice ate, it took JD and me to position her.
I was afraid of my little shark. I never knew a baby had such strength and gumption. No one told me nursing would be like this. She continued to shark attack me during all feedings. We shortened it and now just say she's sharking me. I was so embarrassed that my husband had to help me feed her. I was afraid that he thought I was a big fat failure. This was supposed to come naturally. I was suppose to be able to handle a baby. I considered swaddling her for all feedings but that seemed a little extreme.
In addition to the shark attacks, she nursed for an hour each session. And with her eating every 2 hours, ALL I DID WAS NURSE. Needless to say, I hated nursing the first 2 months. I never told anyone because I didn't want anyone to think I was a failure. Seriously, what is up with mommy guilt? I have felt guilt over the dumbest things since having Beatrice. All I can think of is Romans 8:1: "There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus." I'm convinced mommy guilt is not from God. I wanted to quit nursing but hung on because everyone said that it gets easier after the first few months.
I remember the day Beatrice ate a full feeding in under 15 minutes. It was more nerve racking than anything because I didn't think she got enough and we had to be somewhere. And this mama loathes nursing in public. But she kept eating for less and less time each session. Now we're at about 5 - 7 minutes. It has made nursing so much easier. Instead of feeling like all I do is nurse, I feel like there is so much more to our days together.
Now nursing is effortless and easy. Beatrice and I are both so good at it, we can do it in the dark without hands (or reinforcements). I rarely get sharked anymore. Sometimes she gets aggressive in the mornings, but it's rare. I still hate nursing in public, but for the most part it is going great and I'm glad I stuck with it. I am more than halfway to my goal of going for a year. That feels pretty good.
I always tell my friends who don't have children that nursing is hard work. I don't want anyone to have false illusions of what it can be like. I want to keep it real. And for all of those mamas that have nursed a baby no matter how long, major kudos. It is really hard not to have your body to yourself for any amount of time. I often joke with JD that I cannot wait to have my body belong to me again. For 9 months I shared it with Beatrice, and now for the duration of our time nursing I continue to share it with her.
Nursing is one of the most rewarding experiences, just like I suspected it would be. But I was not prepared for how difficult it is in the beginning and how much of a sacrifice it is. Part of me cannot wait to be done. But when Beatrice rubs my face or blows bubbles while nursing, I know I will miss these times when they're gone. So I am going to enjoy the last few months nursing my little shark. And I know that if she gets crazy, JD's got my back.
It totally looks like JD is nursing her in this photo, hehe.