Thursday, January 6, 2011

Breastfeeding isn't for wimps!

Breastfeeding is hard. More so when you are a wimp like me!

I came across this quotation in one of the writing newsletters I receive weekly. It's from an author named Charles Peguy who said, "A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket." When he wrote that, he was thinking of how some writers can conjure up stories without blinking an eyelid whereas others will have to work through many sleepless nights just to make a paragraph work.

I thought the quote was quite apt in relation to my breastfeeding experience. Yes, it is hard for every nursing mother but a lot of them take it in good stride and can see the big picture clearly (that they are giving the best for their babies) and persevere. For me, I feel that it is like tearing something out of my gut without any anaesthesia. I have tried to make it work and with a lot of support and encouragement, I have managed to breastfeed Little Burpette for almost 4 months despite enduring painful blocked ducts, thrush, lack of milk supply together with emotional and mental turmoil.

So, why throw in the towel now? It's the isolation.

As Little Burpette only nurses well when she lies on my breastfeeding pillow (it's a big rounded boomerang shaped pillow which sits nicely around your waist. Hence, not very travel friendly!) in my room, I don't get to spend time with DH and Osh Osh. Yes, they do come up and sit around with me for a while but Osh Osh gets bored and wants to go and play with his toys or read his books. As for DH, he often needs to do other things around the house as well as keep Osh Osh company and get him ready for bed.

I miss out on dinner time with them. I miss out on play time. I miss out on just relaxing in the hall with them. I miss out on tucking Osh Osh in at nights. I miss out on seeing him leave for school in the mornings. My inlaws come over every evening to help out which is great but it means I am confined to my room when it comes to nursing time. I am just too conservative to whip out my breasts and feed Burpette in front on my inlaws. Nope, can't bring myself to do that.

However, I can't just stop breastfeeding immediately. Burpette is so fond of breastmilk that whenever we give her the formula, she rejects it unless she is starving. I will carry on with breastfeeding this month but will slowly wean her off when I return to work next month. Once she is on formula feeds, I can have more time to spend with DH and Osh Osh because other people can tend to her instead of me. Why stop? Why not give her expressed breastmilk in a bottle? I have tried to express as much milk as I can but somehow, I can't pump enough to meet her needs as opposed to when she is latched on.

The pamphlets promoting the benefits and joys of breastfeeding never tell you how lonely and isolated the nursing mother can feel, how much time it takes you away from the other members of your family, how draining it can be on the mother. Or maybe it's just me...I am a wimp!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

How shall I begin?

I just reread my last post which was written in May 2010. How shall I begin this post given my long silence? So much has changed since I attended that writing seminar by Philip Yancey. Not that I have become an established writer. Rather, it's the opposite as I've stopped taking on writing assignments since April. My writing course has been put on hold. The only writing I do since then is in the form of email messages to friends updating them about my baby.

Yes, I have a baby. She is a happy, healthy baby who is growing well but she also demands all of her mother's time which is expected of a newborn. Osh Osh loves Little Burpette dearly. As far as I can see now, there is no sibling rivalry although there are moments when Osh Osh feels neglected and makes it clearly known to me by saying, "Why don't you play with me anymore? You don't love me?", looking really sad. That puts me on the guilt train and once I'm on that train, it's very hard to jump off it as it will stop for nothing. I do feel stretched and drained and yet, happy and content all at the same time. Is that possible?

Burpette has been very fussy before her bedtime without fail for the past 2 weeks. I couldn't face handling her and tending to Osh Osh alone tonight given that DH is on his night shift. So, tonight is a big "firsts" for all of us. Osh Osh is spending the night at his grandparents. He has never slept anywhere without me and DH. I helped him pack his sleepover bag and got his school bag ready. Burpette was starting to be difficult just as Osh Osh started to have a change of mind. He asked, "Why do I have to go? Can't I stay here tonight?". At that moment, I wanted to shoo him away because I was really getting tired but I knew I had to put myself in his shoes. I calmly explained to him that it will be more fun for him at his grandparents because they can pay more attention to him than I can tonight. It is just for one night and I will see him again after school, I assured him.

He asked if he could pack a snack. He wanted a small box of his favourite breakfast cereal and I said ok. He came into the room several times to give me hugs and kisses, making me promise to call him there once Burpette has settled into a deep sleep, before he eventually left with his grandfather. I thought I would be relieved but in about 5 minutes of his departure, I felt a deep sense of loneliness and sadness. It was as though I would not see him again in a very long time, like he was going overseas to live for a year or something to that effect.

I went to his room after Burpette stopped tossing and turning and seemed to have settled (just peeped at her a minute ago and she's sound asleep) and tidied up his bed, picked up his toys and smelt his pajamas. This pair had just been washed so I was disappointed that I couldn't smell him on it.

I picked up the phone and called him. He said, "Hello, Mummy. Wait, let me play this song for you. You listen, ok?" He played on the organ a tune which I couldn't recognize. He said the title was "Small Yellow Duck, Quack, Quack, Quack". We both laughed and I complimented his performance. We talked a bit more about where he will sleep, what his supper will be and I reminded him that he has to go to school tomorrow so he can't stay up late tonight. I chatted with my father in law for a while then Osh Osh asked for the phone again. "I am excited to be here, Mummy but I miss my home!" He emphasized the last four words, in almost a shout. "I miss you too. Do you know that Mummy feels very sad after you left?"

Ironically, he used my explanation in his reply, 'It's ok, Mummy. It's just for one night and I will see you tomorrow. I love you. Good night."

We hung up. I now feel warm and fuzzy and kind of odd. So, this is what a child can do to you. Just when you think you can't feel more love for them, you do! It may be the first sleepover away from home for him but for me, it's the first time ever since Little Burpette joined our family that I realised my love for Osh Osh has not decreased or stayed the same. It has actually grown as I start to see him in a new light...he's no longer just my little boy. He is his own person. A person I am very honoured to share my life with. I'm going to his room one more time just to look through his stuff, to feel close to him. I know, it's just one night. I didn't say mothers have to act rationally, did I?