The (breast) cup runneth over…

24 Oct

I never thought I would have such bittersweet feelings about it…but I am actually lamenting over the fact that my breastfeeding days are almost over.  It’s been a bit of a love/hate relationship, breastfeeding and me.  A roller coaster ride of experiences.  As this chapter of motherhood is coming to a close, I am here to reflect, share a few giggles and some insight.

It is at this point, I’m going to make it clear:  I’m not one of those mothers who harp on about how breastfeeding makes them feel “empowered” (they’re just breasts, not secret weapons).  Or worse yet, imitate Gisele Bundchen who recently, made ridiculous claims that: “There should be a worldwide law that mothers should breastfeed for six months” (Really, Gezza ??? Get a grip !!!).  A mother’s choice to (or not to) breastfeed can be varied.  Personal, medical, whatever.  Each to their own.

The hospital where my boys were born is well-renowned for being “Baby Friendly”.  As such, it is very much pro-breastfeeding. My charming husband would marvel in delight, “Check out all the boobie posters they have around here !”

The midwives were great advocates (dare I say, some were borderline Nazis) and encouraged all mothers to have their newborns in their rooms with them and to breastfeed as soon as physically possible.  For mamas of premmie pumpkins, our arrangement was slightly different.  We had to “learn” how to manually express our pre-term milk and transfer it to our bubs who were being looked after in the Newborn Care Centre ward, located downstairs.  There, the expressed milk was tube fed to our little ones.

In aid of getting my milk flowing, there were indeed some interesting moments where midwives were poking and prodding my once precious puppies.  One over-zealous nurse was so keen to have my 2 day old son started on breast feeding, that she grabbed a breast (yes, one of MINE) and started rubbing it against my little boy’s closed mouth, back and forth.

“Let’s try and get him used to it as soon as possible,” she said sternly.  My son’s mouth stayed shut tight.  Obviously, he wasn’t interested or ready.  I lost all sense of dignity.

Those midwives gave it to me plain and simple:  I had 2 mouths to feed and the best bet to ensure that happening was to start expressing diligently every 3 hours, around the clock.

“Right, ” I thought,  “Better get cracking.”  I was determined to tackle the task at hand with complete gusto.

So, there I am in my tiny hospital room.  With my two “udders” popping out of my granny nightie, I prop myself up on the bed.  Complete with snapshots of my newborn twins placed carefully in front of me, I began the tedious task of squeezing that “liquid gold” from my breasts into small plastic vials.  (Not the romantic scenario I’m sure that supermodel/earth mother Gisele Bundchen would be accustomed to).

Beside me, was my hubby encouraging me as my coach for a marathon, “That’s it, Lovey…keep the momentum going…squeeze, squeeze…just a few more drops.”

It was at that precise moment I ceased being my husband’s sexual goddess.  Instead, images of a milking cow would spring to mind.

As Ms Bundchen’s face is on the cover of millions of magazines and everyone is in awe over how quickly she has sprung back to the fashion world from giving birth, I actually question how realistic her breastfeeding or motherhood experiences have been so far.  (I bet she hasn’t been man-handled by some highly strung midwife).

Far from being a glamorous covergirl, this milking cow has many more boob juice stories to share.  Stay tuned.


2 Responses to “The (breast) cup runneth over…”

  1. Jen October 25, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    Aaah Grace! You sure know how to bring back those breastfeeding memories! Sadly I am rather lacking in the breast department, but as you know, those breastfeeding experts like to tell you it doesn’t matter what size they are, they will miraculously produce the right amount to feed a hungry baby (or two). Well, it’s not true! My son kept losing weight, became lethargic, and was effectively starving to death, until 4 “breast experts” and plenty of fondling by strangers later, I found a lovely nurse that said, “I think you should comp feed”. I was so keen on breastfeeding I hadn’t even bought any bottles, so it was a rush to the shops for all the necessary equipment. Eventually, I managed to “breastfeed” for over 12 months, with my son getting his “dessert” of formula to fill him up after every feed. It’s amazing how quickly babies grow once they start getting enough food. The idea of forcing mothers to breastfeed for 6 months absolutely horrifies me. There was so much pressure on me as it was, and so much negativity about me “not managing to breastfeed properly”. I was beside myself. Already hormonally high strung women should not be put through that. When my daughter Meg was born, the Nazi nurses again refused to believe that my flat chest would make any difference to the quantity of milk I could produce, and pretty much refused to let me bring any formula into the hospital. Rather than argue, I went along with it for the 3 days I was there, and “gave her dessert” as soon as she got home. Anyone who has actually breastfed will know, your breasts “fill up” and “empty”. It seems logical to me that small boobies can only fill up so much, and once they are empty, they’re empty. Babies know when nothing more is coming out, and no amount of biting and pulling is going to make anymore appear! Second time around I was confident enough to get on with things by myself, but for first timers, we certainly don’t need celebrity opinions, and a little less fondling from the cold handed nurses would be nice too. Keep up the blog by the way. Reading what you are going through brings back memories of me often up in the wee hours, typing one handed, while my other arm was holding up a breastfeeding baby. Aaah…now I’m still up late, but I can use both hands to type, and all they want to eat is Dominos…

    • mamagrace71 October 25, 2010 at 9:14 am #

      Hey Jen, thanks for dropping in and sharing your experiences. Reading your stories made me think of what one midwife said: “Breastfeeding is all in the mind…” “Really”, I remember thinking…”What if I really, really want to, but I really, really can’t !” I also loved reading how by your second time around you just let the midwives believe what they wanted to believe and then got the hell outta there to do what you knew best 🙂

      Thanks for reading !

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