She was about seven months pregnant, and she and my mom were talking bout the cost of formula. I piped up. “Why don’t you breastfeed? It’s free!” She looked shocked and said, “Oh, honey, I couldn’t do that!”
A few months later I was with her after the baby was born. We went to the store to buy formula without my baby cousin; a baby cried in the next aisle and she soaked her shirt. She was mortified, but all I could think was, “well, looks like she could breastfeed. That’s a lot of milk!”
I now have four children; my oldest is 8 and a half, followed by a six-year-old, a four-year-old and my youngest, who is three months old. Three boys and a girl. Let me tell you my favourite nursing memories for these amazing children with whom I have been blessed.
My oldest child, Alex, learned to sign as a baby, and his favourite sign was the one for milk (we used it for nursing.) He would run to me, little fist out, fingers pumping in and out, mouth open. I loved that. He would kiss and cuddle my breasts often.
When he was about six months old, he and his daddy made up a breastfeeding game. Alex would latch, and Clayton would pretend he was going to steal the other “baba.” Alex would immediately cover my other nipple with a hand and grin. If Clayton made it near the breast, he would laugh and push him away. They would play this until I kicked them both off my chest.
Alex once completely undid my shirt buttons at a restaurant when I wasn’t looking. He wanted dessert, I suppose.
Isaac, my second child, was cuteness personified. As a baby, he would pat and caress the beast as he nursed. Once he was older, he showed his good manners by often offering the other breast to his brother or other children, the way you would offer to mix a drink for a friend. (Um, no thanks, Isaac, I’m not a milk bar!) He had a great sense of humour even as a baby, and would often try to nurse upside down as a toddler. When he learned to walk, he treated me like a drive-in, and always wanted to nurse while standing up.
As a toddler and pre-schooler, Isaac “nursed” his dollies.
My pregnancy with Naomi, my only daughter, was not normal; I had hyperemesis gravidarum, a rare pregnancy illness that causes severe, unrelenting nausea and vomiting. I felt betrayed by my body during that pregnancy; breastfeeding started the healing process for me. My body could nourish my baby. It could work properly. I was not a failure.
The first time I breastfed her, I was in the recovery room after my C-section, and the nurse had never seen a mother nurse ten minutes after surgery before. But my husband was holding her, and I was alert, so she was game. Naomi learned to latch perfectly; the nurses dragged new moms into my hospital room for days afterward so I could help them with latching.
Naomi was fiercely possessive of my breasts. They were HERS, and no one else better touch! Nowadays, she just wants her own set.
Edward was born in May, and is the only baby I’ve ever had who has baby fat and rolls upon rolls. After three slim babies, I’m amazed my breast milk can do that. Eddie has also been eager to teach me I don’t know everything. He is the laziest latcher ever. EVER. He will open his mouth into a rosebud and expect me to stuff the nipple in. Um, no, Mr. Man. Open that mouth.
It’s funny how breastfeeding a new nursling brings back forgotten memories of the others before, I had forgotten that funny sound of expectation babies make as you get the breat out, the “ahuh, ahuh, ahuh” just before you offer the breast. I forgot about the funny satisfied sounds, too, as they drink the milk, “hmm. hmm.” Nursing Eddie means I can relive it all again, and remember my big kids when they were tiny and helpless and got their love and nutrition at my breast.
It also means the older children can watch exactly how well-loved they were as babies. It’s funny, breastfeeding is so normal for Alex that he will get right down and kiss Eddie with his own head touching my breast, and he doesn’t even think about it. Giving my oldest son these memories of breastfeeding is gratifying. I know that if he has children one day, he will support and love his wife as she breastfeeds, and think nothing of that, either.