Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Boob Police – baby, 10 days old

About 10 days in, I decided to go to the breastfeeding moms group at the hospital. Getting there was quite a feat. It started at 10:30 and I somehow couldn’t make it there on time. It’s crazy when you think – it’s not like we were really sleeping at night! There was a large crowd there – mostly with somewhat older babies. Each introduced themselves and explained any issue that they might be having. We got to me. I was in such a hormone state I could barely keep my voice steady while I introduced myself. I explained that the baby tended to want to eat / be attached to me for hours on end in the night. She’d sort of fall asleep at the boob (I would try EVERYTHING to wake her up and make her eat, as she’d wake up and cry the second I unlatched her. I tried tickling her feet or, as one friend suggested, putting a cold washcloth on them!), but wouldn’t come off. So I’d get no sleep at all. This tended to go on for HOURS at night. I’d be struggling to stay awake in the chair (for fear of dropping her if I crashed) while she would eat and nap on me. My husband might manage some sleep curled up on the floor (he was trying so hard to be supportive and get up when I got up.), but not much there either. I finally summarized that she seemed to be using me as a pacifier (yes, I tried a pacifier instead, but it didn’t work as well.). The other moms had some good suggestions – try warming up her bed so that she isn’t going from your warm body to a cold bed – she might not notice so much. But the shirt you are wearing near her (but not close enough to cover her) in the crib, so that she smells that and smells you. The lactation consultant went last – she was overall nice, but, well, they do sort of have their agenda… Her response was that babies for all time have been born with mommies, not pacifiers. So maybe she’s not using you as a pacifier, but using the pacifier as a mommy. I was SO exhausted and beyond reasonable thought then that it didn’t even occur to me to question this logic. It wasn’t until I told my husband and he laughed out loud that I realized the rhetoric. Luckily my Mom had already been semi-converted to the world of pacifiers, so she didn’t comment. I should probably explain…

My grandmother had been adamantly anti-pacifier. “You don’t put a plug in a child, you figure out what the child needs.” None of her children had pacifiers. None of her grandchildren had pacifiers – she would have stolen them out of our mouths. Most of her great grandchildren didn’t have pacifiers (you had to move to another state to get away with that. Seriously – most of them were born after my grandmother had passed away, but my cousins held strict to the tradition!). It was taboo in my family. I’d upheld this taboo myself for a long time (this was easy for me to do because I’m very good at parenting in theory. Parenting in practice is much harder.). Anyway, during my pregnancy I’d read an article that the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommended pacifiers to help prevent SIDS. I saw a showdown coming… To be honest, the anticipated showdown wasn’t as bad as I thought – none of my cousins mentioned that I’d included pacifiers on the registry and my Mom only pushed back a few times in our initial discussions and dropped it by the time the baby arrived.

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