free baby holding.

I had a GREAT day Friday. I spent the day with my sister, Wendy and LittleHoudini while her hubs was at work. I arrived a little before 9:00 a.m. and left a little before 9:00 p.m. What an amazing day:

She got:
To take a shower and wash her hair – and blow it dry!
Two 2-3 hour naps.
A fridge with about a weeks worth of cooked dinners in it.

I got:
To hold a tiny baby for HOURS!!!!

They came home from the hospital on Thursday night and I went over to stay with my sister while her husband went to to get her Percocet prescription and stop at the grocery store. LittleHoudini was having a horrible night. Screaming inconsolably. Nothing we tried worked. The nurses had given him a little formula because my sister’s milk hadn’t come in and he was working through it. Not sure if he was hungry or having digestion problems, they gave him a little more formula later that night. Whatever the problem, they all had a rough night Thursday and didn’t get much sleep.

Even though he was exhausted, my brother-in-law had to go back to work on Friday, so I dropped my kids off at school and went straight to my sister’s house. She was wiped out. She had just finished nursing LittleHoudini and I asked if she wanted to take a shower. Such a little thing, a shower, but it can make such a big difference. I just curled up in a chair with LittleHoudini and watched him sleep while she showered and got something to eat. She started to clean up the house, but I gave her such a hard time she settled for sitting on the couch and sorting through her diaper bag from the hospital.

When he woke, she nursed him and when she started to switch him over to the other side she said, “What is that on his face?”

I looked. “Milk.”

“REALLY?”

Later that day, after two naps and some food, she said, “When I saw milk on his face earlier?”

“Yeh?”

“That was the greatest accomplishment of my life.”

See, her own doctor had said to her, “Some women just don’t have much milk.”

Okay doc. Maybe so. But WHY would you say this to a woman BEFORE HER MILK EVEN CAME IN? Was it your intention to make her doubt herself? To anticipate failure even before attempt?

An aside: I admit, I believe in breastfeeding.

And before I say anything about my experience, let me say this: If you give/gave your baby formula, that’s fine with me. Whether you gave your baby formula by choice, medical necessity, or any other reason – I’m not going to berate you or beat you up for it. It’s YOUR decision. Breastfeeding was MY decision. You have every right to disagree with me and I know this can be a controversial subject. If you think formula is better than breastfeeding, feel free to comment, just realize you aren’t going to change my mind. I’ve done my research and I nursed both my kids. I’ve experienced the benefits firsthand. (And this blog is my own personal hate-free zone so any comments containing meanness or passive-aggressive sarcasm are changed to an invisible font.)

I know firsthand how difficult it is to breastfeed and work full-time. With FavoriteSon, the first two months, I was on maternity leave, the third month, I worked part-time and from the fourth through seventh month, I worked full time as a program manager at a college. Every day I expressed milk for the babysitter to give my babies. I had a male co-worker stand outside my office door while I was expressing and moo like a cow. I got him back by calling him on the phone to work through some paperwork – while the breast pump hummed in the background. For some reason, he wasn’t comfortable talking to me at that time. Said he would wait till I was finished. wimp.

From FavoriteSon’s seventh month and when I went back to work after having PinkGirl, I worked as a trainer, teaching classes. I would nurse the baby in the morning, drop off at the sitter’s, start a class, break at 10:00 a.m., express for 10 to 15 minutes, teach till we broke for lunch, sit in my car, eat lunch, express and begin an afternoon session, break at 3:00 p.m., express for 10 to 15 minutes, finish the afternoon class, express one side in the car while driving to pick up at the sitter’s. (The battery operated Medela only takes one hand under the shirt. I got it situated before I started driving. Even the mounted police cameras couldn’t see anything.) When I got to the sitter’s I nursed the baby on whichever side I hadn’t expressed in the car. I carried a lunch box cooler full of food to work, brought home expressed milk in it EVERY day. On those days I had to attend a business lunch, I took 20 minutes before or after to express. It was a routine. It worked. I was very open with my clients about what I was going to do on my breaks and during my lunch. They respected my decision and often provided an empty office for me so I didn’t have to go to the car or drag a chair into the bathroom. When the stress built up and the milk started to go, I would spend a weekend “nursing on demand” like all the books and experts told me to do. It always worked. I got plugged ducts and mastitis. Not just once. And it hurt. And I got rid of the plugged ducts by nursing on demand, like all the books and experts told me to do. For each child, the first week, I had some serious pain. TMI ALERT: Bleeding. Cracking. Even Scabbing. But I knew it was temporary. When it was that bad, it only really hurt for a moment, during the latch. FirstHusband said that when he watched me brace myself when the baby latched on, he was never more proud of me. Me too. I knew it was temporary. By the second week, it was much better and by the third week, I was healed and it didn’t hurt at all. I nursed both my kids for more than a year. That was my decision and it required extended, sustained determination, work and sacrifice. I did it for health reasons, financial reasons . . . LOTS of reasons. That was MY decision.

Breastfeeding was my sister’s decision, too. But before her milk even came in, her doctor had given her the impression that she couldn’t do it. I spent all of Friday working on her confidence and helping her master this delicate part of motherhood. Saturday, we went back over to let PinkGirl, FavoriteSon and FirstHusband meet LittleHoudini. He had a great day, sleeping well and eating well.

I don’t know if my sister will continue to nurse LittleHoudini after she goes back to work, but for now, she’s doing GREAT!

5 thoughts on “free baby holding.

  1. What a shame, that doctor’s attitude. It was insensitive, dumb, and just plain wrong of him to say that!

    I nursed both my babies for 14 month each. It’s the only thing I miss about having young ones. (-: I agree with your sister – sustaining life in that way was THE MOST incredible thing. It was by far the most feminizing empowerment I have EVER experienced in my life!

    My sister-in-law was horrified by the thought of nursing. When Emily was 9 days old, we went to a 4th of July party at her house. She made me walk upstairs every time I had to nurse – and I had had an emergency C-section and wasn’t supposed to do stairs often. We didn’t stay long because my husband (her brother) was so mad.

    Whenever she came over, I made a point of nursing right in front of her. She always left the room. As you said – wimp! I was GOOD at nursing discreetly, so it wasn’t like I was letting it all hang out or anything. Needless to say, her two kids never knew a natural nipple.

    By the way, the funniest part was when my kids would play mommy and walk around with their dolls under their shirts nursing them! It was a hoot!

  2. She’s blessed to have a sister like you to help her – with the meals, the holding, the learning about breastfeeding.

    I loved nursing my kids. It had its moments but I’d do it again in a minute.

  3. I have never and chances are real good that I will never nurse a child – however, it is a great way to start off a life and I don’t mind one bit if someone is nursing a baby in front of me or not. My sister breastfed both of her children (still is nursing the one, she’s only 5 months old now) and despite all of the problems (nearly every one you listed) is doing real well.

    Bravo to your sister and once again congrats. What a great looking family 🙂

    Kristin

  4. I was like you–went back to work full time in my OR nurse job when DD was 5 weeks old, and nursed her completely until she weaned herself off at 10 months. (She just couldn’t stand the immobility of it any more; there were worlds to conquer and she couldn’t do it semi-reclining in mom’s lap while straining to see all around her.)

    Even though I worked the 3-11 shift and the scheduled surgeries were usually over by 5 or 6pm, it was still difficult to get time to pump–and all that was available back then was the manual kind. Many nights I leaked through pads onto my scrub top before I could get a few minutes away. Any inquiry about the baby started the flow.

    I was a C-cup BEFORE breastfeeding, and all of a sudden my pre-pregnancy clothes wouldn’t fit across the bust. I never had mastitis, thank goodness, but the cracking–yep. And DD wanted to nurse every 2 hours for the first few weeks. Many’s the time I’d fall asleep with her after nursing, only to wake up and do it all again on the other side.

    In spite of all that, some of my most precious memories are of that sweet little body next to mine–and the smiles she gave while never surrendering the nipple for an instant.

    I will support any mother’s decision to do what is best for her and her child. But, all things being equal, breastfeeding should win out every time.

  5. Hey Julie, Wow! Your routine sounds like a lot of work, way to go for doing what works for you and for sticking with something so hard. That kind of tenacity changes lives forever….

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