I’ve (thankfully) never needed to be in “in recovery”- but I like the idea of how they pass out “tokens” for milestones. Little bits of accomplishments you can carry around in your pocket. “2 months sober” type of thing.
They should make those for breastfeeding moms. Like, every time you go to our version of “AA” (La Leche League Meetings, Breastfeeding USA meetings, or Mother’s Milk Support Groups), if you’ve held your shit together for another month, you get a shiny new token.
Literally, they seem just like AA- I mean, it is peer support. “Hi, my name is Machelle, and this is Emerson. She’s 11 weeks old and nursing is going well but…”
Sometimes I half expect the other moms in the room to say in unison, “Hi Machelle…”
I’m pretty fortunate, I don’t have any terrible problems. But it’s the same stories every week:
“My mother in law is pressuring me to give formula…”
“I have mastitis…again!”
“My nipples feel like they are going to fall off…”
“My husband wants to give a bottle to bond but I’m not ready to pump yet…”
“My father got upset when I breastfed at a restaurant…”
“I don’t have supportive family…”
“My baby was in the NICU/premature/had surgery and now won’t latch as well…”
I didn’t really grow up “seeing” breastfeeding. Honestly, the first and last time I saw someone nurse a baby (before I was actually pregnant myself) was about 4 years ago. Mary’s cousin, who also happens to be a LLL leader had just had her 2nd child, a son. He oldest daughter was still a toddler. We met them at a bar (okay, that sounds bad- but its like a family-friendly craft beer establishment). She nursed her new son, without a cover, in public. (GASP). And then, she nursed her toddler (DOUBLE GASP!!!) I wasn’t offended, or embarrassed or anything- I was honestly amazed….and wanted to learn more without being the creepy lesbian wife of your cousin trying to figure out “exactly what you are doing…” I was curious, because I hadn’t “seen” nursing before. I was honestly trying to workout the logistics of how it all worked in my head.
When I was about 7 or 8 months pregnant, I went to a birth circle, and saw nursing for the 2nd time in my adult life. There were 3 or 4 moms there and all of them just whipped out their boobs and fed their child like it was nothing. Again, I didn’t want to stare, but I was mystified. I was half tempted to be like, “Look, I’m about to have a baby in the next month or two, and I’m not trying to be creepy, I’m trying to watch and learn…”
You know, like the way you watch a cooking show and figure out how to do something. Or the way you learn to dissect a frog in anatomy. You watch someone else more experienced do it before you give it a go.
When I was pregnant, I had two co workers that pumped at work. I asked them for advice. They were exclusive pumpers, not “to the breast-feeders”. They asked me about what cover I was getting- but I had already heard that so many babies hated eating in the dark with something on their head. I casually said, “I’m not sure I’m going to use one.”
GASP! You would have thought I said I was going to run naked up and down Wrightsville Beach.
Uhhh…yeah. I guess so.
The first 6 weeks, I tried to use a cover. Honestly it is way harder than it looks, its hot, EJ hates it, and I think it draws more attention to me. I hate the cover- it works for some, and good for them. There are times when I want to have a bit more modesty- but I’m slowly getting to a point while I’m nursing that you really can’t see anything, even if I don’t use a cover. EJ and I- we are getting to be pros at this.
A new store in Wilmington has started selling nursing shirts for us plus-sized ladies, and Mary got me two- they are freaking awesome because I can nurse more discreetly without a cover.
So, I’ve somehow become one of those women I stared at. Half of Wilmington has probably seen a little flash of my boobs. Sometimes I see women, often they are pregnant, sort of looking- and I know why. They too didn’t “see” nursing growing up- and they’re just trying to “watch and learn”.
A girl I met who I know is breastfeeding her 10 or 11 month old son just told us she is expecting. She was so excited. Which means, it gave me hope that one day I might find myself tandem nursing two babes…I might have to watch and learn how she does it (with 2!) a little more.
Anywho, the reason I felt the need to write about “seeing” someone nurse:
Last weekend, our original plan was to meet our friend (a photographer) for some outdoor holiday pictures. As luck would have it, it was raining that day. So instead, we went to her house for some pictures in front of the tree. And of course EJ got hungry. She had mentioned taking some nursing pictures, and I’ve seen others have them on social media, but the thought of someone photographing you while nursing seems a little…well, weird. So what was supposed to be an outdoor Christmas party photo session, turned into an indoor one with a side of nursing. But I’m so glad it happened, because they make me feel like I’ve accomplished something, like I’ve reached a milestone of success.
My breastfeeding “token” of accomplishments I can carry around in my pocket.