Musings

Breastfeeding

This week marks my 4th month of breastfeeding. Second to broken sleep, it is the most challenging part of this motherhood thing. The first week was a total nightmare. From being body parts that initiate desire, they became objects with a manual. They are the first things your baby looks for when she comes out of your womb. There are specific liquids that must be released at specific times.

Mine seemed to be broken. So like objects of use, my kraamverzorgster (postnatal nurse) tried to fix them. With her huge Polish hands, she massaged them like pairs of legs that just finished a marathon. Tubes were attached to them while a machine the size of a portable tv sucked the life out of them. They refused to work and let it known by becoming painful. Milk wouldn’t come out. So my baby drank cow’s milk. I was ready to give up on the very first week.

And then one afternoon, after shedding yet another bucket of tears, I asked my husband to try to massage them. Like a miracle, pure, white milk flowed. Without force, without pain, without tears. And quite logical when you think about. My body doesn’t know my nurse’s hands. They were alien to it. But my husbands knows my body very intimately so it didn’t refuse them.

From then on, things became easier. Milliliter by milliliter the milk flows and kept increasing. I’ve no intention to stop until they dry up or my baby refused them completely.

I am not going to join the breast is best campaign. My reasons are mine alone. A mother who is giving her child cow’s milk can argue that her baby gets the same nutrients as the one who only gives breast milk. Especially in the Netherlands where infant milk is very good that Chinese buyers were hoarding them to send back home. (Seriously there was a time that you can only get two packs of milk from the supermarket as a measure to avoid hoarding).

I’m a very practical person. If not for that fortunate afternoon that my husband stimulated my milk flow, I would have given up after a few more weeks. I do not want to throw myself into that competition pit where mothers throw their offspring in especially on Instagram. So my reason for breastfeeding is for the greater part, practicality.

It’s cheap. I can just whip the boob out wherever my baby needs to feed (I’ve lost the little self consciousness left in my body. I’ve breastfeed in public parks, airport, restaurants, while on a meeting with colleagues, in front of my friends and husband’s friends). I don’t worry about forgetting milk powder, bottle, teat or water whenever I leave the house. It’s the right temperature all the time so it doesn’t matter if it’s freezing cold outside or sweltering hot. When my baby suddenly wakes up in the middle of the night, I don’t have to rush, half conscious, to make a bottle (saves my head from bumps).

And it gives me and my daughter that unique bonding moments reserved only for mother and child (sorry dads).

So here I am taking advantage of my kolven rechten (breastfeeding time at work is a law in the Netherlands), expressing my baby’s food for tomorrow, looking forward to go home this afternoon so I can give her my breasts.

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