I love my breastfeeding support group.

I have wanted to breastfeed ever since I was a little kid. I know it sounds corny, but the first time I saw a woman breastfeeding her kid, I thought it was amazing.  I would rarely fantasize about being a mom, but whenever I did, breastfeeding was a part of that dream. I was looking forward to it more than anything.

I was a bit out of it when Maddie was born, and some of my memories are a bit warped and foggy from the painkillers, but I remember nursing Maddie for the first time. I think someone must have held her for me, but I’m not sure. I remember how she latched and did one little suck, opened her eyes and did a bunch of teeny little rapid sucks and then she was done.  I thought WOW. Nursing is SO easy.

Then I remember all of the other feedings at the hospital. The first day, the nurses would bring her to me. I think they woke her up for me.  But after that, they were all giving me these really confusing orders. “Make a C with your hands and hold your breast. NO not like that.. like this! No! Over here!  No.. squeeze .. you’re doing it wrong.. no.. here.. no.. like this.. no!!”   One nurse kind of ticked me off because she just yanked Maddie out of my arms and repositioned her. Then she squeezed my breast, without asking or givimg me any warning! YACK!

Then I remember Maddie didn’t wake up for feedings. She wanted to sleep right through them.  I remember the same Miss Grabby nurse and I got into a bit of a spat because I couldn’t get Maddie to wake up. I had no idea what to do. I finally decided to get her a little bit wet because I thought that might make her stir. She thought I was trying to give her a bath and she scolded me and no matter how many times I kept trying to tell her Iwas desperate to wake her up and I wasn’t trying to bathe her, she kept telling me that I was not suposed to bathe her. She also kept telling me to “just wake her up already” 

Then, Maddie started refusing to nurse. She would get screamy and hungry, but terrified of my big old boobs. She would shake her head and press away whenever they got close. I had several nurses offer wild theories.  Most of them involved my not being relaxed enough. I remember a nurse barking out the order “You need to RELAX! Right NOW! CALM DOWN!! You’re not RELAXING enough.” 

I was so devastated. I was about ready to give up. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but it would have crushed me a little.  I just didn’t know what to do. I thought breastfeeding was natural — and Maddie and I would both just know what to do. We were both totally clueless and we were both slow learners.

Then the lactation specialist came in. I told her that I was tired of everyone telling me that I couldn’t breastfeed because I wasn’t relaxing and I didn’t know what to do.   And instead of scolding me, she found a solution.

She picked up the screaming Maddie and said “See how her legs are curled up right under her bottom? She’s got really bad gas.” And she left the room and came back with a little bottle of medicine.  She took a little dropper and dropped this pink stuff on Maddie’s tongue and she smacked her lips together, stopped screaming and I held her to me, and she attempted to latch.

But she couldn’t do it. I thought — Oh boy.. more RELAXing. But no! The lactation specialist saw that I needed a nipple shield because of the natural shape of my breasts. FINALLY, I could DO this. I was so happy to find out that the difficulties had nothing to do with my incompetence. I could actually take my baby home and feed her.

But when I got home, I was just blown away. Maddie was still not waking up for feedings. I was told to wake her up every 2 hours in the daytimes and 3 hours at night. I remember being so exhausted and frazzled. I was also terrified that Maddie was sleeping because she was starving to death and was too weak to wake up and cry.  Even though the doctor told me on every visit that she was in the 95th percentile for her weight, I was totally convinced that she was wasting away to bones. 

Maddie also started spluttering and choking on my milk. Then she got colic and would scream in pain for hours. I was sort of convinced my breast milk was toxic. The only thing that kept me going with the breastfeeding was that the doctor said I was doing great and Maddie was growing like a weed.

I knew there was a breastfeeding support group, but I was too stubborn to go. I can’t remember why. Most likely reason is that I am socially awkward and hate meeting new people. But of course, I made excuses. I thought since Maddie was doing so well gaining weight, I didn’t need any help.

The only reason I went was because after my 6 week post partum checkup across the street from the hospital, I remembered how amazing the hospital cafeteria food was and I decided to go in and get lunch. (Yes, the cafeteria food is amazingly good at the hospital here… Seriously.. )  I saw an army of strollers. The security guard said “Oh look, it’s Tuesday. All the breastfeeding mommies are here.” I had just happened to come in a few minutes before the weekly meeting. I thought it couldn’t hurt to check it out just once.

Thank God I went. Maddie wasn’t having serious issues feeding, but it felt so GOOD to hear other brand new moms have so much trouble feeding. It also was great hearing moms confess dirty little “bad mom” secrets — like baby refuses to sleep in the crib so let him sleep in the car seat. Or that other moms were having trouble getting a shower or doing anything all day.

In lots of situations, I feel like when groups of moms get together, competitive bragging sometimes starts. Whether it’s how “advanced” their own baby is pointing out the fabulously expensive and adorable perfect outfits — or whatever makes some other mom a perfect mom, people here just talk about their struggles in an honest way. Maybe it’s because we’ve all seen each others boobs — so what else is there left to hide?

Now all our kids are in the “big kids” room, where babies older than three months go. We aren’t all sitting around in a circle with our tiny newborns. We’re sitting on the floor, with our babies doing tummy time, sitting up, crawling around, toddling mostly hanging out until our kids need a feed. It reminds me of a slumber party sometimes.  We got had some bad weather and then got sick, and I really missed the group when I was gone.

My favorite thing about the group is that I’ve learned there are so many different ways of being a good mom. It’s so easy to see your own shortcomings and think that everyone else is doing a better job. I love seeing all these “perfect” moms and finding out that they are just like me. They are just better at different things and who knows — maybe they envy something about me (my baby’s hat.. I know! Her hat is too cool!)  I think being in the group has not only made me more comfortable nursing, it’s made me more comfortable being a mom.

And now Maddies 4 months old, and except when she had a little stomach bug, nursing is so easy. I can flop her down any old way and she just opens her mouth like a baby bird and latches. It’s the way I assumed it would be when she was born. She still has colic. She still uses that stupid little clear shield that is impossible to see and I am constantly hunting for it. She still clusterfeeds and keeps me awake for hours upon hours. But I love it and it’s totally worth it.

Even though I don’t need breastfeeding support so much anymore, I still need the group. And I’m so glad they are there every week.


Newbie Post

This is my first serious attempt at a blog. I’ve doodled around a bit, but never got into it.  But now I’m all for serious. I was thinking of listing everything I would likely write about, but then I decided that this would get in the way of my actually writing anything. So I’m just going to say hi there and wing it.