Do you remember this song from Sesame Street?
This little tune runs through my head often these days, as I lead a milk-soaked existence.
I am a milk machine.
This is miraculous.
Yesterday during Zoe’s tae kwan do class I suddenly realized that the left half of my shirt was soaked through with milk. I spent most of class nursing Zeke anyway, so no one could see anyway. When I had to get up, walk across the mat where Zoe’s class was practicing their punches, kicks, and form, to reach the bathroom so I could change Zeke’s diaper, I cleverly draped his flannel frog blanket over my shoulder, obscuring my dampness.
Our sheets are populated by milk stains, either fresh from me or dribbled out of Zeke’s mouth. When I nurse and the milk comes out too fast and Zeke pulls away, the milk gets all over his clothes and me and my pants. I go through so many shirts and bras. Breast pads are of limited utility.
When Zoe was three and a half months old, my sister got married. Zoe was the ring bearer and my husband was the ring bearer bearer. Zoe spent most of the wedding sleeping on the shoulder of my mom or aunt. As you might imagine, a bridesmaid dress doesn’t allow for easy access to nursing, nor is there much opportunity to pump (or express milk, if you prefer) during your sister’s wedding. By the end of the evening, the top of my dress was soaked through with milk. I still have it in my closet, although the dry cleaner was not able to get the stain out of the material. Not sure what use I might have for it, except as a souvenir.
A friend who doesn’t have children and doesn’t expect to recently asked me about nursing. Was it wonderful? Was it terrible? Breastfeeding is amazing. It is spectacular that, without me having to do ANYTHING special, my body produces this perfect food for my baby. How cool is that? And it’s free! AND Zeke loves to drink my milk (as did Zoe) and my body makes a ton of it–maybe even too much?–but it’s a great problem to have.
Breastfeeding is intimate, as you can understand, but also public, because you have to do it all over the place when your baby is hungry. It is sweet and tender, except when your baby is fussing and crying and freaking out for no apparent reason. It is relaxing, especially when you’re doing it at home in a comfortable chair, or stressful, when you’re trying to do it in some crowded place and people are getting in your face. Breastfeeding produces some sort of happy hormones (in the mom). It is impossible for me not to fall asleep almost instantly when I go in during the middle of the night to feed Zeke. I end up sleeping in the glider for hours sometimes, which somehow seems wrong, but I guess it’s fine.
Nursing your baby makes you feel very competent, except when it doesn’t. I am grateful for all the ladies at the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington for their guidance. Zeke has been great, and the fact that he gained more than two pounds during his first three weeks of life is evident of his rock star ability to nurse, but that doesn’t mean it’s been without tense moments.
Speaking of which, I hear the siren call from the crib of a hungry baby. Duty calls.