Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Like mother's milk.

I'm in a relationship based almost entirely on an adoration of my boobs and I have to say, it's kind of thrilling. I mean, it's just so out of character for me. I've never been the kind of girl whose boobs have ever brought the boys running, you know? They're alright but if you're looking for something to drool over, I'm fairly certain they would not top the list.

But now that they're functional? Watch out! My little Finn is out of his mind, totally ga-ga for mama's fun bags. I would say he nurses about, oh I don't know, 10 hours a day? Basically if he's not sleeping or having some brief but adorable quiet alert time (what is he staring at and why is it so intriguing?), he's latched onto one of my boobs or searching for one with his crazy fast bobble head and wide open fish mouth.

It's shocking how much time I spend holding and nursing. The fact that I can get anything else done is kind of impressive. And I'm not talking about anything major. Oh, no. I'm talking about stuff like I can still scratch my own arm when it itches and I haven't had to resort to wearing adult diapers just yet. Seriously. Take yesterday for example: first my friend had to hold my frozen yogurt for me so I could take awkward left-handed bites while nursing at the ice cream shop and then later at the park she had to spray me with bug spray while I sat there like a lump nursing my baby. And she's nine months pregnant and has two little boys to look after! I'm telling you, it's a miracle I got out of the house in the first place.

But can you believe I'm nursing in public?! It's such a big deal for me. I hardly even nursed Liam in the living room, let alone anywhere people could actually see me. But thanks to the handy dandy nursing cover a friend sent me, I am a free woman, whipping out my boobs wherever I darn well please.

At the zoo: lizards and nursing!

I just never quite found my stride nursing Liam so I pumped and bottle fed almost exclusively. At the time it felt so much easier than breast feeding but now that seems like crazy talk. Since Finn has been here I have pumped exactly twice and both times have felt like major productions.

First I tried my old Medela Pump in Style. I dug it out of the basement, washed and sterilized everything in a big pot of boiling water, hooked myself up with a hearty "Moo!" for old times sake and sat with Liam through an entire Electric Company while the thing whirred and hissed and pumped and pulled. All that and I only got one measly ounce of milk!

I figured it was my pump. It had never given me great results in the first place and that was before I used it day in and day out for eight months and packed it away in the basement for four years. Besides, I had always said the next time I had a baby I would just bite the bullet and rent a hospital grade pump.

So I packed up the boys and we headed out to A Woman's Place at Centennial Hospital. This was a good excursion for us. Even if I don't have much better results with the rented pump (I tried it for the first time yesterday and only got an ounce and a half of milk!), I did get some good advice from the crazy old ladies at the hospital.

First, I learned that when sterilizing your breast pump parts, it is not necessary to drop the plastic tubing into the boiling pot of water. In fact, since these parts are not supposed to get wet at all, any attempt to "clean" them will only render them useless. Good to know.

Second, I learned that spending practically every hour of every day for the first month or so holding and nursing your baby is not only normal but very healthy and worthwhile. The ladies were talking to me like I had this thing down (I guess because this is my second baby...and I didn't tell them how the water got in my breast pump tubing). One of them looked at me like you know what I'm talking about and said, "I think new moms are totally blown away by how much the baby needs to be nursed and held at the beginning but what else are they gonna do? It's the fourth trimester! I tell them, if the baby is awake and his mouth is open, you better put a breast in it." I nodded like an old pro but on the inside I was high-fiving myself. I wasn't screwing Finn up by not getting him on a schedule right away or spoiling him by letting him nurse whenever he wanted! I was doing it right!

It's funny - what stressed me out at the beginning with my first baby (But I just fed him! There's no way he could be hungry again. Either something is wrong with this baby or something is wrong with my boobs!), has been sort of a nice transition into my relationship with my second baby (He's starving again? No problem! Bring him to me and I'll nurse him. Just let me turn on some Grey's Anatomy first...). I'm not even letting the weak results with the pump phase me. While I could have seen that one little ounce and thought, "Oh no, I'm starving my baby!" I decided instead to trust that my baby and my body know what they're doing. And since little Finn was already up to 9 pounds 8 ounces at his two week check up, I don't think I have anything to worry about.

Besides, it turns out one ounce of milk is the perfect amount for a bottle feeding.