Friday, March 4, 2011

One Year Of Nursing

I've said plenty here about nursing over the last year. I'm not going to rehash all of it - you're welcome - but it seems like I should say something to commemorate one year of nursing.  After the first 3 weeks, I was sure I wouldn't make it to 6. At 6 weeks, I didn't see how 3 months would be possible.  Finally, at 10 weeks, we found our groove - the Fidg and me - only to face new challenges around 14 weeks when I returned to work and quickly learned that pumping wasn't going to come easily for me. 

The pumping problems created unanticipated challenges.  Like a reverse-cycled baby.  And a co-sleeping family.  And a grandmother deeply concerned about the co-sleeping family.  I don't think I'd be reading "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" now if my breasts had made better friends with the pump and my child had adequate daytime food for months 3 through 8.

Prior to co-sleeping, of course, I thought I had a sleep problem on my hand. I chose to look at it as a condition, however, and my stress level decreased significantly and my sleep increased by equal measures. A win for all involved - except for the frequent attempts by some to solve the problem that was no longer a problem. Oh well, if that's the worst problem, we're okay.

Select some of the tags associated with this post to see previous posts about nursing challenges.  I still believe breast feeding classes set women up for failure by not being more open with the pain of initial nursing.  By not being more honest about the time commitment and toll.  And while I appreciate Sutter's lactation consultants and would recommend them without reservation to anyone, I think the LC field needs to spend more time on pump problems.  I have 1001 ways to increase milk supply, but supply was never my problem. Solutions for pump problems seemingly don't really exist and I have to figure there are droves of frustrated working moms like me who suffer the stress of low yields or just give up on EBF and supplement with formula.

Here's the question that I've been really mulling, however: would I do it again?

Yes and No.  If I weren't a net-obsessed over reader I probably wouldn't have continued nursing or struggled to avoid formula supplementation.  And I didn't avoid formula because I think it's bad. I avoided it because I'm a competitive jerk who set herself a goal and was hell bent on meeting it. (Might it have something to do with my worries about labor failure? Yeah, I think we can go ahead an associate those two things.)  I don't think my kid is going to be a genius because I gave her solely breast milk.  I don't think we have a magical bond we couldn't have had if there were a bottle between us instead of a breast.  I think nursing was a large part of my initial resentment of motherhood. I felt trapped. Sometimes I still do. 

Would I tell someone else - would I tell my daughter - to EBF?  Maybe.  Depends on her situation.  If she were trying to pursue a career, probably not.  Or maybe it depends on the field.  And the job.

What if I had another kid? (har har har har har har har HAHAHAHA har har.)  I still don't know. I'd EBF initially and then I'd probably pursue donor human milk, frankly.

If nothing else, the experience has given me a million public policy ideas on what we should be working on that didn't cross my mind before. We need longer, compensated maternity leave.  We need (maybe-regulated, but at least destigmatized) access to human donor milk.  We need nursing normalized - especially in public (I think we're close to that) and past 1 year (we're not close to that). 

It's challenged my definition of equal parenting - and of equal and parenting as separate words. 

Hana Rosin had it right when she said breast feeding is only free if a woman's time is worth nothing.  That might be my biggest take away. Nursing has taken more of my time (and worry and energy) over the last year than any other aspect of parenting. Or any other part of my life, period.

Oh, and it sure didn't make me lose weight - but that's another post (already written several times over).

Developing . . . . .

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