Bottoms Up!!!

9 Jun

From the moment I had decided to fall pregnant, I knew what kind of birth I wanted to have and how things would be run in terms of Samuel’s care thereafter. My birth plan involved a doula and midwife present at an active birth unit and breastfeeding from the moment Samuel was born! I count myself fortunate enough to have the birth I wanted but the breastfeeding thing totally fell apart!!!

From attending ante-natal classes, I had learned about the infamous “golden hour“. Here’s what a birth doula writes – healthy infants should be placed immediately on the mother’s abdomen or chest when they are born and remain in direct skin-to-skin contact until the first feeding is established. Allowing the new mom and baby to enjoy the first breastfeeding together and experience the intimacy of skin-to-skin contact before anything else is done eases baby’s transition from the womb into the world. It stabilizes baby’s heart rhythm, body temperature and breathing. Spending that first hour enveloped in each other’s presence lets you both know that everything is right with the world. It awakens the mother inside you, bonds the baby to his primary caregiver and sets the stage for the coming hours, days and years. A Dad can also get involved by placing his hands on baby, talking quietly, letting baby gaze at his face and spending time holding baby after the first feeding is done. It is during the first hour of life, a healthy baby shows a high level of alertness and an ability to interact with its parents; an infant recognizes his/her parents’ voices and smells and it is the ideal time for the baby to be introduced to the parents through snuggling and breast-feeding. Picture Perfect. After Samuel was born, he was wiped down gently and placed on my chest. All the necessary tests were done from there but the three of us were given a chance to look into each others eyes and bond. While I was pregnant, I used to sing “You are my sunshine” to him all the time so as soon as he started to cry I thought that was a fitting lullaby to calm him.

While I sang to him, my midwife cleaned me and then came the moment I had anticipated almost as much as giving birth. Ta daa!!!! You must understand that I had even attended a special breastfeeding workshop, that’s how determined I was to do this thing!!! So we tried, and we tried, and we tried and Samuel screamed but we just kept trying… and for six days solid he refused to latch on! This was horrifying for me because he was not following my well executed plan and none of my friends (they all had cesars) had problems breast-feeding. There I was thinking, I had done it the way nature intended and now it’s bitten me in the behind!!! While at Genesis, the midwives on duty helped me hand express every time he needed to feed but we had to call in the big guns or lactation consultants as they are known to help get the show on the road. One whole blessed week of pumping every three hours (yes that includes four in the morning as well), letting someone else feed and bond with my baby and then there was the never-ending chore of sterilizing bottles and my pump!!! If I was a normal human being, I would have given up at this stage. My lactation consultant, Brenda Pierce and my doula, Hailey Fudu finally got Samuel and I on our path of breast-feeding success.

So on to the reason for this post. Other than that first week of his life, Samuel only had to get used to a bottle when I started working again and it was once a day. From what Brenda had told me about breast and bottle feeding, to have success, Samuel had to associate breast with me and bottle with anyone else. With that burned into my mind, I had determined never to give him a bottle myself, in hindsight, a little over the top if you ask me. So yesterday, I had a chance to go home for lunch and Samuel hadn’t been fed yet. I pumped (yes I still do it so that he has bottles of breast milk when I’m not around) before I left work and he was not interested in letting his nanny feed him while I was around.  For the first time in a long time, I was stumped. I know it sounds weird because I should have just picked the bottle up and fed him right? Well when I did that, I certainly didn’t expect him to let me feed him and yet there we were doing it like it was any other normal feeding session.

It was in that moment that I felt a little sad because breast-feeding him had become our thing that no one else could be a part of. It was after midnight feeds that I would catch glimpses of him smiling in his sleep; it was then that my oxytcin-induced love fest began while I watched him sleep; he was my only company while his father snored the night away; he was the reason I could leave unwanted company and it somehow boosted my self-confidence as a mother but let me not leave out the absolute convenience of it all as well.

The World Health Organisation recommends breast-feeding until the age of two. I’m not sure that I would go that far but I do know that when our little love fest comes to an end, it would be bitter-sweet. Don’t get me wrong here, there will be some happiness at the prospect of getting my boobs back but not really sure in what condition they will be in!!! Yikes!The silver lining is that while Mr may have more bottles in time to come, so will I…. and I’ll say, bring on the chardonnay baby yeah!!!

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