Friday, October 14, 2011

There's No Such Thing as a Modest Mother

I’m sure someone warned me that upon the birth of your child, all modesty flies out the window.  First of all, on the delivery table, they have you essentially naked—with a small gown and legs spread eagled for all to see.  Then they have nurses coming to look around in there, to poke and prod and supposedly diagnose progress.  If I knew how many people would’ve been staring at my hoo-haw, I may never have had the guts to give birth! 
   So, at least you’re warmed up when it comes to breastfeeding, right?  Immediately after the doctor pulls this huge being (okay, maybe not so huge, but it sure feels like it!) out of my body, I don’t even have a second to recoup before the nurses are grabbing my breasts, trying to get the perfect position for my young boy to feed.  We spend the next hour of his life letting him suck, let go, and then latch back on.  It’s apparent that hardly anything is coming out and my poor son is getting frustrated, crying in between feedings. 
   The next few days aren’t much better in the hospital.  Every time a nurse comes in, she’s plopping out one of my breasts like it’s one of her medical tools, and pressing my son to me.  She doesn’t hesitate to stick her hands in there to help re-adjust as needed; we have to get the right position or I’ll be sorry later, she keeps reminding me.
   My milk still hasn’t come in, but when it does…that’s enough to make someone want to lose it.  My boobs inflate as big as balloons; my poor nipples are stretched beyond belief and leaking.  I’m so sore, I just want to have a hot bath and forget about this entire ruckus.  My son has a different agenda.
   By the time I leave the hospital, I vow if anyone ever touches my boobs again, I may punch their lights out.  But, within an hour, I’m sitting at home—doing…guess what?  You got it—breast-feeding!  I can’t go anywhere because my precious angel has quite the appetite and is basically attached to my chest 24/7.  Didn’t somebody say this was supposed to be a time of bonding?  If masquerading as an open-all-night 24-hour cafeteria equals “bonding,” I guess that’s what’s happening.
   Within a few days of being home, my breasts are still sore; blisters surround my nipples. He’s obviously been latching on wrong.  That damn nurse was right!  So off to the hospital I go for one more poor woman to grope my boobs and show me what I’m doing wrong. 
   It’s amazing what mothers’ can endure…it truly is.  Eventually, my son and I got the breast-feeding thing down.  We’d feed at the same times pretty much so I was free to do things as needed in between.  Hey, when the time called for it, nobody said feeding in the car, pulled over on the side of the road, was a bad thing.  Desperate times call for desperate measures. 
   At three months, when I had to return to work, I decided to let the breastfeeding go and buy bottles and formula.  Rather than be elated as I’d been expecting, I was depressed.  I went back and forth on the decision probably a hundred times, driving both myself and my husband crazy.  Deep down, I’d become attached to those moments alone, rocking and feeding my son.  I was giving him something no one else could, and although those first few months were tough—I knew I didn’t want to let it go. 
   It’s amazing how with time, I learned how to let go of the modesty, and embrace the open and raw parts of being a mother—even when it included having to give every part of myself.

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