On Breastfeeding

It is 5:19 am. I’m up because I just finished the 4:30-ish feeding and have decided to stay up as this is the quietest hour I will get all day. Such a nice hour it is.

As I’ve noted in previous posts, most of what I do all day is breastfeed. The babe is a cluster feeder, by which I mean that she starts out the day on a steady “every 3 hrs” schedule, but those meals get closer and closer together as the day progresses until by around 8 pm she’s eating almost constantly. This isn’t an exaggeration. She’ll start nursing at 8pm, finish at 9 and then be back at the breast at 9:30 for another 45 min session. Recently this has reliably put her sound asleep around midnight for 4 plus hours, so there’s an upside…there’s rest at the end of the marathon. Except that the marathon always starts again the next morning.

As you may know, due to health reasons I had an emergency cesarean section at 36 weeks of pregnancy. I’m defensive and sensitive about it. I was really looking forward to labor and delivery, the pain and the process held a fascination for me and I was dedicated to pushing my baby into the world the way my mother had pushed me in. Was not to be. The fact that I’ve missed the one chance at a uniquely feminine body experience leaves me feeling down if I think about it too much. Some how breastfeeding has really made up for that. Not somehow… it is its own feminine body experience and it is ongoing and constantly re-enforcing. There is simply nothing like knowing that I make food. This is like growing tomatoes but they grow inside of me. I am earth, the water I drink is rain, the food I eat fertilizer, the sleep I get the rising and setting of the sun. As if I wasn’t enough of an egoist, I have now become Gaia herself.

And then there’s the interaction it affords me with Tavi. The contact of her pressed against my chest, how quickly she quiets when she sees my breast and lunges for it – and lunges is the right word, I mean, it is a bit scary how ferociously her feeding instinct kicks in at the sight of the breast and the smell of my milk. Then once she’s settled in and nursing, she rolls her eyes up to look at me and I see a part of her no one else will ever see. She makes noises and facial expressions that are associated solely with our shared physical process. I have this secret with her, and we re-enact that secret every 2 hours every day. I am so blessed and thankful that this is something we have together that the other physical things I didn’t share with her, the pain and sweat I didn’t give her on her birthday…well, that seems alright, like maybe it’ll come out in the end. And hell, she doesn’t mind if she’s never experienced a birth canal, but given her expressed preference for my breast over a bottle, she definitely minds that I breastfeed.

Breastfeeding is actually the source of most of my worries these days, that and the boredom. I find myself constantly calculating my milk supply and thinking of ways to maximize it. I track when last she ate, how much, which side, when next she’ll eat… it is preoccupying to my mind as well as constantly demanding on my body. As much as I’m looking forward to going back to work, I know that not feeding her will leave a void in my day. But hopefully it will make these 5am meals, and this hour of quiet afterwards, even sweeter than it already is.

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Published in: on April 8, 2011 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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