By Laurence Thellier
I hate breastfeeding…no, it’s true, I really do!
I breastfed my first daughter Carla for three months, and it was sheer hell…engorgement, cracked bleeding nipples, baby nursing around the clock, and no information whatsoever. So I must say it was quite a relief to hear my pediatrician tell me at three months, “She hasn’t gained enough weight. You have to supplement with formula right now !!” Oh, the great advice an uninformed pediatrician can give to an inexperienced first time mommy. And off I went, sterilizing bottles, “Carla stop crying, baby, 10 more minutes and the bottle will be ready”, buying powdered milk, “man that’s expensive”, preparing bottles, “oops, I put too much”, warming up, “ah, shoot, it’s too hot!”
When I got pregnant with Jodie, I would spread the great news around: “Me? Nursing? NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Formula is so practical/wonderful/easy/blahblahblah.”
And then I read. One book. One link. And another…and another.. And as my waistline started to expand, my brain started to work (about time, huh?) By the time my belly had inflated to the size of a watermelon I said, “OK…maybe I’ll just try it. But if something, ANYTHING goes wrong, I’ll stop, UHKAY??” All that during my long conversations with my mirror who – I think – nodded silently.
Then the second most wonderful day of my life finally arrived (the first being the birth of Carla): Jodie was finally born! Right after birth, I felt this weird tingle, this warm sensation in my breasts that just whispered to me, “It’s time to nurse, mommy, baby’s hungry and needs you.”
I said to my mirror, “Let’s just try this for 6 weeks,” and got a silent approbation.
My husband was then transferred to Japan, and following the advice of a wonderful group of breastfeeding mothers I met online, I decided to ease the transition on Jodie by continuing to nurse her. I explained to my mirror that it was so much easier to roll over and nurse at night than to get up and fumble around in the dark to fix a bottle, etc… and I swear I saw a gently ironic smile at this point.
We first went back to our family in France for three months. It was really hard. No more online friends to cheer me on my small weekly accomplishments, no more source of fun to make my very trying postpartum depression easier on me, just my mom, who kept telling me, “Do what your heart tells you.” And that heart wouldn’t shut up! “Look mommy, look what a great thing you’re doing. Look how happy she is. Look how healthy, while her big sister constantly has a cold, a stomach bug…And now go look at your email box, where your friends probably left you links to look at, you know, just ’cause…”
Then we moved to Japan when Jodie was 5 1/2 months old, and it was one of the hardest things I had to do in my life. I didn’t speak a word of Japanese, no friends, no phone or internet for a while, everything was a problem, my husband was working constantly, and I felt so alone. But I wasn’t. I had my two babies with me, and my little one needed to grow. When you can’t read the labels on a pack of toilet paper, would you buy formula blindly? Didn’t think so.
So I kept nursing. A little longer…and a little longer…and just a little more…hey, doesn’t that link What if I want to wean my baby? state that “IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR A YEAR, you can avoid the expense and bother of formula. Her one-year-old body can probably handle most of the table foods your family enjoys. Many of the health benefits this year of nursing has given your child will last her whole life. She will have a stronger immune system, for instance, and will be much less likely to need orthodontia or speech therapy. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing for at least a year, to help ensure normal nutrition and health for your baby”?
And to my online friends’ great amusement, I began my little countdown in my signature, counting the days until she was one.
I was so proud when she turned one! No more nursing for us!! Where is that gallon of milk?
Until further reading put this question in my mind that wouldn’t go away: “If nursing is so good for one year, why does it stop at 52 weeks?”
And it was easy…so easy to nurse her, so I kept going, ok, I admit it, out of laziness sometimes. Nursing her through temper tantrums, little booboos and big heartbreaks when I wouldn’t give her another cookie, and always reading, more and more about the benefits of extended nursing. By the way, if you need any links on the topic, I am a mine of information right now!
Jodie is now the most beautiful 2-years-old little girl in the whole wide world, and still nursing like a champion. I wouldn’t take it from her for the world. Especially when she looks at me with her big blue eyes and strawberry blonde locks asking “nursey, pleez.” Whenever I have to say “not now” because we’re in a hurry or else, she gives me this desperate look that says, “Why are you doing this to me?” She will self wean; she will choose herself and I will just follow her lead.
Breastfeeding is the greatest thing I have done, and I am so proud of myself and my baby girl.
“I hate breastfeeding.” Did I say that?
::drawing in the sand with my toes:::