Do they give prizes for breast feeding feats of glory? If they don’t, they should. And by the way, who is “they?” and if you figure it out, let me know so I can petition better. But since no one is giving me any prizes, I figure I had better try to get one of my own.
With the Olympics coming up, I thought I’d try my own version of sport. But in a postpartum, boneless slump, what’s a gal to do? The answer is simple. Extreme breast-feeding sports.
Here’s how you play.
1) eat some toxic food or find another way to acquire gastritis.
2) while vomiting repeatedly have someone bring your nursing baby to you.
3) apply baby to breast and see how long you can feed before vomiting again.
This is a game I played to much delight last Friday. I think I might have won.
Which leads to a very important question: What the hell is wrong with me? And why do I torture myself?
This is my third lactation, and my babe is almost nine months old. After hurdling low-milk supply pumping until one year at work with my first daughter (now six), and split-jerking my way through lactation number two for my son, now 3.5, I am now doing a not-very-fosbury-like flop with this lactation as my supply has suddenly and inexplicably gone to near nothing . Ah, such torment! This was my prize super-producing lactation, my third-time’s a charm…but the charm has worn off. And yet I persist. Which gets back to the original question? What the hell is wrong with me?
But I know the answer. The answer is in a glance between mommy and babe that leads to a de-latching smile. In the small hand gently tapping my chest and caressing my arm. The sleeping baby on my breast and lap. This very short time in life when my body feeds this other body that I love so very much.
Every mom feeds her child however works best for all of them, and that leads to multiple baby-feeding paths—and I support moms doing whatever works best. As a social worker who has had low milk supply, I know that there are plenty of respectable, perfectly valid reasons for people to stop breastfeeding. I’m also lucky enough to have a schedule that enables me to pump regularly and in my office. Lucky as I am, I often wonder (such as when feeding while vomiting or getting two ounces at each of four pumping sessions at work) if I am going too far. But I love it, I cuddle it, I love it. And for this, most likely my last child, I am savoring every minute. Well, maybe not the minutes running to the toilet to heave. And maybe not every single minute nursing in the middle of the night. But those other minutes? They’re pretty cool.
–Julie E.G. Smith