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Letter B for Breastfeed

April 2, 2008

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April 2008 NaBloPoMo

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Today is the second day of the NaBloPoMo challenge, and I have chosen to write about my personal experience with breastfeeding my two children. This time the word “breastfeed” translates as “amamantar” in Spanish. You can see the word “mama” in there, which shows our connection to other mammals who breastfeed. In reality, my husband’s family refers to breastfeeding in a more vulgar way even though they very much believe in doing it. They usually choose to say “darle teta al bebe” or “darle chichi al bebe” which is like saying “to give your boobies to the baby.” When our daughter was born in Japan we were surrounded with love and support from my husband’s family who encouraged me to breastfeed by saying, “hay que darle bastante chichi.”

I was in Japan teaching English at a municipal high school. I had 2 weeks of maternity leave before she was born and 6 weeks afterwards. During those 6 weeks I let her breastfeed whenever she wanted, probably 10 times during the day and twice at night. She and I got my milk well-established before I had to go back to work. I pumped twice a day at work in a beautiful and secluded lounge where the women kept their coats. There were tatami mats that smelled heavenly and helped me relax. Using the pump really started to hurt after a while, but I maintained my resolve because my husband needed to give that breast milk in bottles to our daughter while I was working. I wished it didn’t have to be that way, but we were living in a subsidized apartment provided by the city and our health insurance was also dependent on my employment with the city. So my husband and I had to just do our best for about 3 months, waiting for my employment contract to expire so that we could move to the United States.

Once, my daughter was breastfeeding during a Davidson College basketball game. The crowd responded loudly to a goal and she let go of my breast to whip her head around and see what was going on. My milk had just come down a few seconds earlier so it was coming out really fast and it sprayed the back of the person seated two feet in front of me. It was pretty funny. Before I had her, I hadn’t imagined how powerfully my milk would shoot out. My breasts were amazing milk manufacturers.

My daughter had to stop breastfeeding when she was 14 months old because I was pregnant and couldn’t handle the emotions of providing for both of them and the sensitivity in my breasts caused me to resent continuing. I remember when I told my daughter about the sensitivity. I told her she needed to stop because it was hurting me. Even though she was only 14 months old she repeated, “duele” (Spanish for “it hurts”) and put my needs ahead of hers by agreeing to wean! I was impressed and very grateful for her compassion.

My son followed the same pattern of establishing great breastfeeding habits from the day he was born. The story that stands out is when he was about a month old and had gas. He was trying to nurse through the pain of the gas, but his problem just kept getting worse from all that breast milk. He nursed for around 4 hours (I kept falling asleep and didn’t have enough energy to take control of the situation). The next day I had a fever of 103 and mastitis in my left breast. I felt like I had the flu because my bones started to ache and I was having chills. The lactation consultant’s advice to me was just to let my son nurse me through the infection. I didn’t take antibiotics, and the consultant was right! Even though it was very painful for a day, we took care of it on our own.

He stopped breastfeeding in October when he was 20 months old. I had hoped that he would stop earlier, but I had not insisted. On the last day of February, my husband and I went to Peru and left our children with my parents. We were apart for 6 days and when I got back my son seemed a little disoriented. He called me “Grandma” for a few days and randomly put his lips on my breast but didn’t seem to remember how to latch on. He seemed to want that comfort and connection and was miffed at having been apart. We shared a laugh and a hug.

Here are 101 reasons to breastfeed listed at the on-line store where I bought my maternity bras. I have always been rather open and immodest about breastfeeding. I apologize if this was too much information.

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10 Comments
  1. April 2, 2008 1:05 pm

    That story about nursing at a Davidson game made me laugh out loud! It’s amazing at how far milk can shoot out when it’s letting down.

    When I was home with my son, I didn’t wear a bra. I would feel a familiar tingling sensation and next thing I knew, I’d have wet spots on my shirt.

  2. April 2, 2008 1:27 pm

    I loved being able to breastfeed my kids too. I had to start weening my daughter at 7months because I found out I was a couple months pregnant (oops) and that made me feel horrible guilt. But I got over that and did it slowly so she stopped completely at 8months. My son nursed for 7months and then I just couldn’t take his yanking me around when he wanted to look around the room while nursing. He was so much happier with the bottle at that point and I only had about a 6month gap in between nursing my daughter and son so I was ok with letting it go then.

    I’m so glad that I did and would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. It’s well worth the pain in the beginning. Even when I got mastitis too, it was well worth it. And my husband and I are the cheapest people we know so we loved not having to buy formula 😉

  3. April 2, 2008 5:34 pm

    Accountable, whoo-hoo I made my breast buddy laugh!

    Chris, I love that breastfeeding is free. I definitely agree with you about the cheapness factor being a huge deal.

  4. pppj permalink
    April 2, 2008 11:34 pm

    Oh gosh..what great memories! I remember when I breastfed our youngest on a plane from CA (I think), and the northern lights were going on so they dimmed the airplane lights and you could see out of my side. The guy on the other side said, “CRIPES LADY THAT BABY HAS BEEN EATING FOR AN HOUR CAN I SEE THE FRICKIN LIGHTS? MOVE!!!!!”

    Naturally, I was shocked, but went to move the baby off of me, and someone in front of me turned around and yelled at him and told him to go to another planet (insert word here)….etc…etc…

    So, the baby was happy, I was happy, and the man went to another aisle.

  5. April 3, 2008 1:19 am

    On the contrary, I thought this was a very interesting post. Well done.

    Loved the thought and introspection you’d put into your breastfeeding stories.

  6. April 3, 2008 9:23 am

    Oh, PPPJ, that is a great story. I’m so glad that the stranger in front of you stuck up for your right to feed your baby. 🙂

    bluemilk, thanks! I’m writing things down now that I could have/should have written down a long time ago. Blogging makes journaling more feasible for me.

  7. April 3, 2008 10:30 am

    I love that your daughter was so compassionate during your pregnancy.

    I had mastitis twice–the first time I didn’t go in for antibiotics. The second time (4 weeks later) it was much worse on the other side and I took the pills. God, it’s so much worse than the flu because it’s not like you get to sleep for more than 3-4 hours in a row while you have it! Argh.

  8. April 5, 2008 3:49 pm

    Love the story about breastfeeding at the game! Before I had Zoe, I thought the only body part I could blow milk out of was my nose when I laughed, I remember being so surprised for first couple times my milk let down and sprayed everywhere. I’m extremely thankful I’ve never had to deal with mastitus, and am knocking on wood right now hoping that continues.

  9. April 5, 2008 8:56 pm

    westwardbound, I have to be really careful with my daughter because she is super-sensitive like that. Ouch, you had it twice? You are right, no sleep for a nursing mom.

    Ann, it is surprising. I thought a baby had to suck the milk out and the flow would stop when the baby stopped. No one told me it would have such force. 😉 Are you still nursing your daughter?

  10. April 30, 2008 4:38 pm

    Yay for American families choosing to breastfeed!

    http://www.comcast.net/news/articles/general/2008/04/30/Breast.feeding/

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