May 1, 2010

Confessions of a Nursaholic

So I'm on vacation at the beach when baby boy comes down with a bad ear infection. Stop the world, stop the partying! It's time for Melodramommy to enter back into the place she most dreads: (gasp!) Urgent Care. All was great and dandy in the waiting room: we sat on the furthest side of the room away from the possible germ carrying other patients, and after an HOUR wait, we were called into our own private room. Could life get any better? YES! The nurse gave us a toy truck for baby boy that he could keep. (I had to swipe it away when she wasn't looking so it could undergo proper sterilization methods back at home) and then she even gave him a cherry ice pop to suck on while waiting for the doctor. I was so impressed, with all sincerity, I was going to write a post about how AWESOME this place was, how maybe I was wrong about my take on Urgent Cares ... UNTIL the doctor walked in.

"So your baby is just over a year old?" She smirks at me.
"fifeteen months." I answer.
"AND, How long did you breastfeed him for?" Assuming that I breastfed him, and I did. But why the assumptions.
"Ten months." I answer, feeling ever so proud of that fact that I lasted that long, considering he got his teeth in at FOUR months.
"Well, Mommy, it's too bad you couldn't have lasted nursing him 6 more weeks. It would have provided more health benefits for him and it probably would have helped him to not get this infection."

WHAT! WHAT! Did she really just say that to me. That's when I wanted to get my NY accent on and fire at her, "EXCUSE ME! I said, EXCUSE ME. ARE YOU TAWKING TO ME!"

At the moment, I chose to compose myself and contain my offense and just get her to care for my sick baby. That was a mistake that I will post more about later. But for now, in honor of all my nursing mom friends, who have either nursed before, are nursing now, or are yet to nurse AND when you encounter people like this doctor who are completely IGNORANT of the pain you when through and have ZERO appreciation or understanding the sacrifice it takes to offer this gift to a child .... THIS POST IS FOR YOU : ) And yes, I debated for a while now if I should post this confession because it describes pretty much everything a nursing mom goes through, but after the offensive encounter in the face of such ignorance, I feel it has to be shared.


There's no doubt that nursing your baby is a wonderful and unique experience that has incredible health benefits for both baby and mommy. But let's face it, good things usually come at a cost. For all you nursing mothers out there who know exactly what I'm talking about, we can surely toast a bottle of bosom's milk to the melodramommy's journey in breastfeeding.

You attend your first nursing class and feel ever so ridiculous holding a scary Chucky-like hospital doll to your bosom in order to "practice" feeding positions.

Yet, in order to practice your nursing positions upon returning home from class, because you certainly don't own a scary Chucky hospital doll, you instead grab your 1980's Rainbow Bright doll that your well-meaning mother saved in her attic for over 25 years waiting to give it to you so you could pass it on to your child, and you practice, practice, practice.

The big day happens. Finally, baby is born. You pop baby on that booby only to discover you CAN'T remember the proper nursing position that you spent so much time practicing. And, it doesn’t even matter because you are enjoying one of the sweetest moments of your life.

In comes the requested lactation specialist who presses her cold hands on baby's face and your boob. Emphasis on cold. Her advice helps.

A day or a few days pass. Your milk comes in and you are suddenly an instant Victoria Secret Model. You welcome with enthusiasm this surgery-free enhancement--anything that will better balance and deter away from the sagging, still very prominent, NONpregnant belly. That is until you get home and realize that pretty much all of your tops are either too tight, too low, or too complicated for nursing.

Ice packs, warm presses, nursing covers, nipple shields, lalolin cream, nursing pads, nursing bra, nursing pillow, nursing pillow cover, gel pads, a breast pump, breast milk storage bags, and a nursing book. Thank God for baby showers!

Nipple shields! What type of name is that anyway! You can't figure out what to do with those and wonder if they are in fact some evolved medieval torture device.

Well, off to the stores to buy a nursing bra. Yes, you need to get re-fitted and upon doing so, you're astonished to discover how many cup sizes you've indeed blossomed. It’s like going through puberty all over again. Oh the sacrifices of a nursing mom. WAIT! There's actually a cup size for that letter of the alphabet.

Then it happens, maybe at first, maybe hours or days later, baby latches on WRONG. Your nails grip and nearly pop that boppy pillow, and you shriek so loud you startle baby. Baby cries. You both cry. With a deep breath you try to sooth baby and ask God to soothe you.

Discomfort. You establish new rules with hubby: there simply is NO sharing in babyland.

You pump your first eight ounces, shrug your shoulders, and realize, "So THIS is what it feels like to be a cow."

And then, you finally get into the swing of things. You're suddenly a nursing pro. You don't even need your nursing pillow, nursing pillow cover, the lanolin cream, or the gel pads. You can nurse with one hand. You can nurse walking around the house. You can even nurse in your sleep!

Baby is growing. Baby is happy. You're happy. You're losing weight. You definitely don't feel guilty eating that hot fudge sunday because you frequently remind yourself of the fact that nursing burns an extra 500 to 1,000 calories every day. So Super-size me! Life is good.

Baby has his first growth spurt. You think, yes, baby, you can nurse as much as you want as long as you continue to suck that fat off my thighs, my rear, my belly, etc.

Then one day, baby discovers the world around him and you. You're in the middle of nursing and a sound, be it the phone, the doorbell, daddy, the TV, OR no apparent reason at all and baby jerks off that boob to explore the world around him but forgets to detach himself! To say that is NOT a fun moment would be an understatement. You are NOT amused.

Another growth spurt. You nurse and nurse and nurse.

Then it happens. Daddy delights in spotting his son's first pearly whites, exclaiming, “isn’t this Awesome!” You respond: "NO, I am NOT excited about little "Chomper's" teeth growing in early any more than YOU would be skinny dipping in a lake full of piranhas!"

You are soon to discover your other child/children attempting to "nurse" her/their baby doll(s)---or in my case her stuffed cat! Funny, but sweet.

You become the ultimate at multi-tasking in that you finally manage to nurse baby hands free so that while nursing you simultaneously can be talking on the phone, yelling at toddler, sipping a glass of ice water with one hand, updating your facebook status with your other hand, and of course, using your big toe to reach the TV remote to change the channel.

Well, in spite of it all, that day comes when it is finally time to wean your little one, who now isn't so little anymore. You have that first sniff of a NONbreastmilk poopie and exhale thinking, WHAT THE HECK IS THAT! Then, it's the middle of the night when baby awakes hungry and your drag your bare feet on the cold floor across the house to the kitchen to heat up a bottle--they're dirty. You wash it. Your out of formula! No, not a trip to Walmart now! Perhaps, the grass is greener--or shall I say---the milk is sweeter on the other side of the teat!

And yet, when all is said and done, you find your heart forever savors that special bond created through all those tender moments; from those midnight warm soft touches, to the early morning snuggles under cotton sheets, you'll never forget that sweet smell on your little one's breath or the melodic sounds of his soft suckling. You retire the breast pump, give away your nursing cover, nursing pillow, and nursing pillow cover. And, while you're in the middle of burning all those horrid nursing bras, you realize breastfeeding wasn't just about feeding baby. It was a journey into perhaps the sweetest exchange of giving and receiving love.

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Posted by Laura


Southern Reflexions said...

This is such an amazing post; you are right on!! I am SO sorry that doctor said that to rude, ridiculous, and just...well...I won't say it, but it was most def. uncalled for!! Go you for nursing SO long!! Breastfeeding is truly an incredible bond, like you said, and I wouldn't trade it for the word no matter how hard it has/may be and no matter what anyone else says!! Thanks for this post...It's so good to relate to other blogging Mommies!! :-D
~ Marlie

Diana Stone said...

First of all, I can not believe the Dr said that to you. What a jerk. Second, I am laughing so hard because I am still breastfeeding Bella and all of this is so true. I dread her getting teeth. Thanks for the pick me up this morning.

pchanner said...

I am sorry you had a bad experience. I am just a tab bit confused though. I am currently breastfeeding my son and he just turned 8 months. One of the many reasons I don't intend on stopping until he is at least two years old is because the tremendous amounts of benefits it has for the both of us, including the prevention (or lowered risk of) ear infections. So I am confused as to why what the doctor said was wrong? I don't mean to be insensitive, I just hope I haven't been putting my trust in a statement that isn't true.

Kate Pantier @ Mommy Monologues said...

pchanner: The World Health Organization does say that babies being breastfed up to 24 months will have benefits. The United States med groups say that anything past 6 months is considered a success. So it's really all up to the mother & the choices that are best for the family. When I was a baby I weaned myself naturally at 9 months, I would have nothing to do with the chi-chis after that! But my little bros took longer to wean (up to 13 months)-it just all depends on the child too!

Laura-This is all soooo true! Baby has 6 teeth & I'm miserable. He's at a stage now where he's biting me b/c he thinks it's funny. I however do not think it's funny! It hurts sooo bad! The doctor shouldn't have blamed you for the ear infection, it's not your fault. Besides, Baby had chronic ear infections from 3-6 months, almost had to have tubes, & he's only ever been breastfed. I was breastfed & had to have tubes in my ears. There are different kinds of ear infections & breastfeeding only gets rid of one kind!

I'm so glad that I'm almost done with breastfeeding! One more month!!!

Kate Pantier @ Mommy Monologues said...

And don't forget: breastfeeding makes you super skinny! It burns 300-500 extra calories a day! I will definitely miss that!

Melodramommy said...

Thanks Marlie and Diana.

Hi Pchanner. I think it's great you are nursing your baby. And, my hat goes off to you for choosing to nurse for 2 years! Medical research does prove that nursing baby is best. To answer your question, this doctor was very offensive to me for several reasons:

1.) Ignorance: there is nothing saying that if I had nursed my baby 6 more weeks he would have still not gotten the ear infection. Babies who are bottle fed and who are nursed both can get ear infections. So I felt offended that the doctor would blame me for the ear infection.

2.) Insensitivity: when a mother takes a sick child to get cared for that is not the appropriate time to be blaming whomever on why the child got sick in the first place. Most mothers are stressed when baby is sick, so the doctor shouldn't make it worse by pointing a finger especially if there is nothing a mother can do to change the fact that she stopped nursing months ago.

3.) Presumption: This is not my normal pediatrician that I have a history with who knows my background. This doctor, an urgent care doctor, knows nothing about me. It is arrogant to tell a mother that she should have nursed for x duration of time because this doctor doesn't know my extenuating circumstances. Does this doctor know that I happened to have an emergency appendectomy and had to pump milk in the hospital, was not allowed post surgery to lift my baby for 4 weeks and it caused a lowered milk supply, and I still fought through that and continued nursing for months. Yet, by 10 months, many teeth marks later, and attempting to nurse almost 1YO while caring for a very active 2YO, I made a decision of what I felt was best for my family. I feel GOOD about my decision to stop nursing at 10 months. If I could have made it to 12, I would have. But, my body going straight from being pregnant with baby 1 to nursing baby 1 to pregnant with baby 2 to nursing baby 2--my body couldn't take it. In addition, I have friends who had to completely stop nursing at 10 months because their milk supply completely dried up. I have another friend who wanted desperately to nurse and tried for the first two weeks in complete agony, but her body never produced milk period. Point is, a doctor should not presume that all women have an easy choice or the choice at all to either nurse or not nurse or stop nursing. Nursing is a personal choice. And there are many factors that go into making this decision. It is one to take seriously. It a wonderful decision to make WHEN you have a choice. Nevertheless, it is also a personal choice. It is not the doctor's place to tell me I should have nursed 6 weeks longer especially AFTER the fact. And it is not the doctor's place to blame a mother, who did nurse her baby for 10 months, for causing the baby's ear infection, when ear infections happen in both nursed and bottle fed babies.

I hope this explains a little more on why I was offended. I am in support of nursing. But I'm also in support of mommies, whether they can or can't nurse. I do appreciate doctors and urgent care doctors--they've come to my rescue many times. I just was completely taken off guard when a doctor whom i came to for help, began the diagnosis with criticism, judgment, and arrogance. Not to mention, a wrong diagnosis that you will have to come back soon to see the rest of the story on that.

Hope you'll be back and bring your opinions with you : )

Thanks again!

Melodramommy said...

Hey Kate, thanks so much for your feedback. The kids have been sick here, so I've been slow to get on the computer. But, I'm soon to get my blogging act together. Love ya!

pchanner said...

Thanks so much for the clarification.

Now I completely understand and agree. I guess I was only looking at the belief about the benefits not really acknowledging the feelings behind the comment.

Your right, everyone has a different story/reason for why the chose to breastfeed and how long and it isn't right for anyone to dictate to someone when/how long and for what reasons they chose to breastfeed or not.

Hope I didn't offend.

Kate Pantier @ Mommy Monologues said...

Sorry the kiddos are sick! I know that's rough-I remember when my mom's life would come to an immediate halt when all 5 of us would come down with something! Hope they all start feeling better!

Melodramommy said...

Pchanner, thanks again for posting your question. No offense was taken. I'm just a fiery passionate Italian who loves listing all the reasons why I feel the way I do.

Kate, thanks so much for the well wishes. Will be sending you an email later today.

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