Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Milking it

One year into breastfeeding and going strong!

For most of my life I did not think I would ever make that statement. 

Didn't plan on getting married. Didn't plan on being a mother. 

I'm a mom in one of the most visceral, tangible ways right now. It consumes so much of my life currently; I never expected this identity.

For the record, I have also never loved being alive like I have this past year.

But back to the subject, I always thought breastfeeding would be a chore. I presumed a mom would wean as soon as healthily-feasible. I presumed extended breastfeeding moms were slaves to their children, permissive, and [probably] had some kind of codependency problem.

I didn't foresee the joy of breastfeeding. I should have.

I have always loved feeding people. I've enjoyed making ridiculously huge family dinners since I was in grade school. I really, really like being able to put food on the table when friends are over. Babette's Feast: it speaks to me.

Feeding your child the best nutrition on the planet gives a similar satisfaction. Plus, there are the sweet snuggles, the convenience of ready-to-go, prewarmed drink, and less stress about how much solid food actually makes it in because you know the milk can sustain him.

Oh, and the weight loss. I lost 40 lbs of pregnancy weight in a matter of weeks and then an additional 10 lbs. Meanwhile I ate as much as I wanted. Yes, I know I'm lucky to have this metabolism. But regardless of weight loss, breastfeeding is lowering my risk for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and probably osteoporosis.

It hasn't been completely smooth sailing; it hurt a lot for the first few weeks. It was drippy and messy for a while. I had an unquenchable thirst. I think an oversupply caused a lot of colic-like symptoms for the first few months. We still have problems with occasional biting. And there is the ongoing challenge of nursing being Bubba's primary sleep association. But I'm thankful that overall it's been as successful as it has.

Also, breastfeeding in public: I should apologize to all moms right now. I used to think that nursing in public was unsightly, gross--you know, cover those things up, ma'am. Nobody wants to see that.

Despite all the advancements of feminism in society, I judged women's bodies so hard. Nevermind that biologically boobs are, well, made for breastfeeding.

And really, nursing just isn't a private thing. If you think it is, you are in reality suggesting that women ought to stay home. Because many babies need to nurse every 45-60 minutes, particularly newborns. And what is so private about feeding a baby? Nothing. For adults, sex is private. Going to the bathroom is private. But eating is hardly private. If anything, it's a communal thing. We meet friends for lunch, we have family dinners, we dine in public, we are amongst strangers at restaurants. So why would feeding a baby--in the way babies were designed to be fed -- be a thing of secrecy?

So I apologize, again, to all the flabby, frumpy, disheveled nursing moms I sneered upon. You were feeding your child. That is enough. You don't owe it to society to look graceful or elegant or photogenic in the process.

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