Breastfeeding Challenges

1-1-09: Hard Work is Gratifying Work


Breastfeeding is a lot of hard work. I've never felt this so much as this past month. Since David is sleeping through most of the night, he's hungrier than ever during the day. He nurses, what seems like, every hour or so. I can't accomplish any single task before it's time to sit down and nurse him again. Then he dozes off for thirty minutes or so and we do it all over again.

When you have two other children demanding your attention, breastfeeding is a challenge. Either I'm nursing David while Elise climbs on top of my head and jumps around me like a monkey, or I nurse him in fear that a catastrophe is occurring upstairs while the girls are unattended. Half of the time, I have to interrupt the nursing session to assist Elise to the bathroom or breakup a fight. Last week, Elise grabbed Julia's hair and wouldn't let go. Julia was screaming. Elise was laughing. It ended with a clump of Julia's hair in Elise's fist. By the time I got back to feeding David, I was completely stressed out.

Then there are the physical challenges. I'm still experiencing discomfort from the vasospasms I suffer while breastfeeding. And two weeks ago, I developed a milk blister. I had to stop nursing on the affected side for twenty-four hours and pump. And, of course, I can't go far without being reminded that I'm a breastfeeding mom. Remind me not to wear a silk blouse again when I'm away from the baby!

Despite the struggles, I remain committed to breastfeeding. The health benefits are numerous and even though I don't get to cuddle up and nurse David in peaceful solitude, like when Julia was a baby, it's still worth it. When I look down to see David's tiny hand resting on the top of my breast, his eyes closed in sweet contentment, I feel full of love. Being the sole food source for another human being is a powerful, life-affirming experience. The challenges don't diminish this. In fact, they make the entire experience that much more gratifying in the end.