This post is about norks.
Ok, I grant you this may be unexpected. This is possibly the first post brought to you by the jubblier parts of my anatomy. I’ve always prided myself on being a closet prude (as documented here).
However, IVF strips away much of your modesty, and breastfeeding pretty much sucks away any that remains. You know your personal boundaries have undergone a subtle shift to the region of Albania when you greet the Fastway courier with a funbag flopped out.
In fact, recently I’ve wondered what I’ve been so precious about all these years. There’s nothing special about my norks. They’re round, squishy, kind of furry in the colder months. See? Same as everyone else’s.
So. When I was pregnant, Andrew and I discussed how we would feed our child. Formula? Breast? Throw a few bones into the garden and let him fight it out with the dog?
In the end, the decision was clear: buy a big box of chicken necks and . . . HAHA ONLY JOKING, PLUNKET NURSE! You know: joke? Something said or done to provoke laughter or cause amusement, often culminating in a punchline which is why mine might have confused you? Ok. Sorry. Please don’t alert Child Welfare Services.
No but SERIOUSLY, it seemed willfully irresponsible not to breastfeed Finn. It’s the most nutritious source of food; boosts the immune system; allows the baby to regulate his own supply; and is fully supported by the Ministry of Health and its associated minions.
In fact, the MoH’s informational material was positively inspirational. The promotional DVDs featured joyful women leaping through waves with their infant swinging from a nipple. Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, they aggressively stressed. And totally painless if you do it correctly.
Well, you can call this a public service blog post. I’m here to shatter the conspiracy of misinformation.
IT HURTS LIKE A RAW BASTARD.
My first pet name for Finn was ‘Sharkattack!’. He may have had no teeth but could have gnawed through my upper torso with his razor-sharp gums if I didn’t hold him back. I’m not sure why we bother with a bassinet when we could simply affix a silicone tit to the wall and sucker him onto it.
Also, it didn’t help that within 24 hours of Finn’s birth, I’d had at least five people man-handling my chest (not including baby-handling). These included the anaesthesiologist in the operating theatre – which I can only compare with a tax consultant reaching across his desk to grip you by the boob and give it a rare squeeze while discussing personal wealth and asset planning.
Although there was no doubting the passion, dedication and absolute conviction of the midwives and lactation consultants at Dunedin’s Queen Mary, they all offered conflicting counsel. I was variously advised to latch the baby by gripping him by the shoulders, neck and head (although not all at once). One suggested letting Finn latch himself – “Guiding him to the breast is a mechanical act. After all, you don’t see lambs being attached to a teat with a great big hand.”
She seemed unmoved when I pointed out that sheep weren’t equipped with hands.
One lactation consultant had transformed vagueness into an art form and stood by my bedside twitching and wincing as I practiced putting whichever hand it was somewhere and waiting until ooh- aah- the baby sort of oohaah- yes- no- that’s not right- um.
Here’s the low-down: unless you routinely engage in sex play relying heavily on nipple-clamps, chances are breastfeeding will hurt for the first few weeks. Frankly, I think it’s immensely disrespectful to women to pretend otherwise.
Instead of the relentlessly positive propaganda, I would like to have been trusted to make the right choice for Finn and me in the face of the horrifying truth. Despite the blood and shreds of tissue, I’ve always been aware how incredibly special it is to be able to nourish my baby.
Painfully aware, even.
And I’d rather have been prepared for it, rather than wondering whether there was something wrong with Finn and me.