This post is NOT about the ongoing
battle debate over breastfeeding in public. Nor is it about pornography or topless bathing or whether or not nipples are the line between tasteful and ZOMG BOOBS!
This is about a war I have with the Spawn. Over my breasts.
***NOTE: This post may cause some to clutch their chest or squirm in pain/embarrassment/discomfort. It involves nipples, blood, and an imaginary gospel choir. You have been warned.***
*I* happen to view my glorious mammaries (oh, yes, the engorgement has served me well) as miracles of modern milk production (does anyone else feel like bursting into a Gilbert and Sullivan sing-a-long? Oh, that’s just me? Right, carry on then…).
The Spawn sees them as her bestest playthings eveh! What great drums, they are! Hear the change in tone as she slaps them when they are full and when they are empty! Need to wear down those baby nails? Here, just scratch at my breasts, sooner or later that pesky nail will catch on my skin - better that than the soft baby cheeks! And don’t get me started on the fun you can have with NIPPLES!!
To paraphrase my husband: Babies are really sneaky.
The Spawn lulled us into a false sense of security. Those first 24 hours were so EASY! She nursed straight away! She nursed quietly and calmly, with great dignity. She slept easily and gave all the right cues so that we knew when to change her diaper and when to cuddle her close.
Lies. All lies.
Soon we learned that I’d birthed a piranha. No, worse, I’d birthed a vampire.
My child bites.
And worse than that, she has a little vacuum of a mouth that can Hoover mammary tissue out though the teat.
I began to bleed when I nursed. Not just a little bit, but full on dark red blood. Once, in a desperate act to keep my child from drinking my blood, I rushed to grab some paper tissues from the bedside table. During that 5-second dash, I bled down my chest, into my pants, dripped a trail across the floor (from the directionality of the drops, we conclude the victim was alive and hobbling at the time of the blood loss) and soaked the paper I grabbed. My child looked up at me with blood all over her face and down the front of her onsie and squawked,
“Feed me Seymour!”
Now before leaving the hospital, everyone and their supervisor had a look at my feeding techniques. This is because Evolution Failed. Apparently. See, the story goes, we aren’t born knowing how to nurse and it must be taught. How we survived as a species for 4 million years before the arrival of the Lactation Consultant, I’ll never know, but there it is folks - Babies R Stoopid.
I’m getting the place where I may pop the next person in the kisser who says the word “latch” to me.
“You just need to have the right latch.”
“Wait until the baby opens her mouth wide, then bring her to the breast, and you will have the perfect latch!”
“You will notice with the perfect latch, there will be no pain.”
First of all, most of those women, looking at my darling succubus, cooed “oh, she has a great latch!” and then when I said, “Oh, but it hurts” they replied, “yes, it does hurt, but that will pass. You just need to toughen up. And make sure you have a good latch. It won’t hurt if you have a good latch.”
So a week later the midwife comes by and checks me out. We do the nursing before the judge and the midwife proclaims, “what a nice latch!” And I bring up the pain. And the bleeding. The copious copious bleeding. My husband points out the biting. The midwife watches the nursing a bit more. I think she sees the way I bite my lip and hum loudly that this is not the uterus-shrinking pain that I was supposed to feel (did I? Who knows, my nipples were being sawed off by Gummy McSpawnsen!) nor the let-down tingly pain (which brings me to point 2 - God is NOT a Woman because WHO ON EARTH THINKS BREAST PAIN IS A GOOD DESIGN COMPONENT?). She suggested a nipple shield and then went and fetched one for me.
If I may bring in my imaginary gospel choir for a moment…
PRAISE JESUS WE HAVE BEEN DELIVERED FROM THE DARKNESS AND THE END TIMES!
Hey, did *YOU* know that breastfeeding wasn’t supposed to cause that much pain and suffering after the first week? I cried for HOURS afterwards. Tears of joy. Of sweet, sweet relief! Feeding my child would no longer be a trial and I would no longer dread that small gaping mouth.*
*Except at 3 in the morning when momma has to pee REAL BAD. That shit still sucks balls.
So now we had the pain wrapped up. There was just that pesky bleeding.
Did you know that if you feed your child bloody milk, they don’t poop the right color of poop? True story. And not pooping the right color is A Big Worry to midwife-y sorts.
Now we’re at a week and a half old and I’m sitting in front of another midwife (because I’ve got a new goal of showing my nipples to every health care practitioner in Denmark) for the baby’s hearing test and yet we are again discussing latch and nipples. It was a fair enough question; I had just bled all over her office. “But,” I proudly pointed out, “it doesn’t hurt any more.”
She looked slightly ill. What? Do not all women bleed profusely from the nipples at this stage? THEY DON’T?? Please lord, don’t tell me it’s the latch…
She sends me to another nurse who also looks at my mangled nipples in horror. “Didn’t they give you something to put on your nipples?” she asked. “They told me to use breast milk and air dry,” I say, thinking about the $10 salve I’d bought in the chemists that was languishing on my shelf (I hadn’t had time to google the ingredients so I didn’t know if it would be harmful if ingested or not). The nurse hurried off and brought back a little jar of what we think is lanolin.
LORD WE THANK YOU FOR SAVING US NO GOOD SINNERS! HALLELUJAH!
Oops, please pardon the imaginary gospel choir; they get a bit over excited.
OVER EXCITED FOR JESUS!
Ahem, anyway, that lanolin was AMAZING! I healed right up. And this was very good because I’d been trying to wear woolen nursing pads and the damn things kept sticking to my wounds. The nurse suggested I flip the pads over and use the silk side instead.
Bloody nursing pads need to come with a damn instruction manual. “In case of copious bleeding, try using the flip side, the silky side, instead. Oh, and get yourself some lanolin, girl, cause DAMN!”
And within another week, I was healed.
I’m now working on weaning the Spawn (and my nipples) off the nipple shield. So far there has been pain, but no blood.
Of course this would be easier if she hadn’t decided that the correct latch was for sissies. What are you supposed to do with a child who decides that nursing is best accomplished by opening the mouth wide and going “haaaaaaaaaaa” while waving her head back and forth over the nipple WITHOUT SUCKING?? “I’m sorry,” I holler over her screams of hunger, “but that’s not how the milk will get in your belly!” And then, just as I ‘bring the baby to the breast’ she shoves BOTH HANDS into her mouth. Forget the part about babies not being born knowing how to nurse, this child is actively participating in Darwinism, only she’s trying to win the Darwin Awards.
But when she’s got both hands in the mouth and is beet red from screaming and has this look of complete and utter ANGER on her face - “why won’t these DAMN HANDS give me MILK!?” I find myself laughing. Sometimes ‘Angry Baby’ is just FUNNY.
This is not the Spawn. This baby is not nearly angry enough.