Friday, August 3, 2007

Not wanting to go through all that again.

I have met, in person, nine or TEN women who have had such difficulties nursing their firstborn babies that they did not try to nurse the second baby at all.

Oh, the symbolism. It kills me. I feel so, so bad for these women and it is so difficult to get them to talk about this. Do you want to know the only way I have found out that this whole thing was going on, really? Because I knew them when they had just one baby. And I heard them tell their tales. Of how they tried and tried. Of how they pumped and had latch issues or support issues or even sexual abuse issues. They wanted to nurse so much, but for whatever reasons, they ended up stopping. they would tell these stories over and over, the sadness and frustration still fresh in thier eyes.

Then, a few years later, they would have the second baby, and the entire vibe was different. I would hear a very very detatched voice this time around. A voice that told a very different tale to those who they spoke to. Tales of "not wanting to be tied down". Tales of "liking my sleep". Tales of "after 9 months of pregnancy, I would like to have some wine, maybe some motrin, you know?"

Lies to cover the hurt. Lies that were sort of reharvested, I can only asuume, during the second pregnancy? Perhaps discussions with bewildered husbands about how little Timmy is doing awesome on formula, maybe talks about not wanting to go through all that again. Husbands and partners who never got to be there for the good parts of breastfeeding. The awesome parts of breastfeeding. Like from week 6 until forever.... husbands and partners who only remember their wife crying topless on the couch, with a boppy pillow, a tube of Lansinoh, a few cabbage leaves and a box of kleenex, the crying crying crying of the mama and the baby. The feelings of fear and failure and confusion and regret and utter defeat mixing the little bottles of powder with water. Wanting this to work, wanting the baby to gain some weight, wanting someone to swoop down and tell you something will change. Wanting to hear that formula is just as good. Wanting your wife back. Wanting everyone to just stop crying. Wanting it all to be ok. Finding solace in the people who tell you breastfeeding is stupid; for dirty hippies and poor people. Feeling like for once, when you go to WalMart and buy a can of formula, that you are in control again. You have bought something tangible. You have mixed it and measured it and stuck it in your new child's mouth and he liked it! He burped and peed and pooped and went to sleep! Isn't that better!?

Maybe I am sugar coating it all. Maybe the partner is the reason they wouldnt bother again. Maybe it is mother in law or "best friend" who undermines the interest to try it again. Maybe some idiot doctor or maybe even great grandma told you to feed the baby every four hours....once every four hours (hahaha!)

Maybe someone told the mom "Remember all that bullshit you went through last time? You really want to do that again with a toddler to take care of, too? I have tons of coupons you can have."

Oh, but my mamas, my sisters, if only you knew.
It isnt the same as surviving birthing with mean doctors again.
It doesnt have to be like last time.
It is easier and better and you know so much more now.
You know how fast that postpartum haze goes by now.
You know how fast they grow now.
You hopefully feel much more confident in your mothering now.
Maybe it is too scary to "go back" to when you were so sore and so so tired and so bewildered and so freshly feeling like everything is going wrong. Maybe you just can't bear to go back there. But with each birth, you ARE back there.
A new baby IS a fresh start. Your second baby IS your new baby, just like your tenth baby is. They are one day old and they want your milk, just like your firstborn did.

I really want to help these women. It was helpful to hear them at the playgrounds saying things like it was so hard, I was so sore, I pumped for a month.

It is damaging for them to be spreading the word that nursing isn't important, that nursing wrecks your sleep or your figure or your ability to get wasted or its leaky or inconvenient or whatever other tough-guy lies they are trying out for size. What if some new pregnant person is listening to this?

Isn't it much better to hear true tales of heartbreak and regret than the mean spirited fabricated barely believable bullshit?

We mothers arent allowed to lament anything in this society, and I know that full well. People are quick and ruthless when they dig into that grab-bag of AT LEAST YOU HAVE A BABY, etc etc etc kind of stuff. We are suppossed to breeze through or shut up, and the results of these muffled cries end too often in mother-baby murder suicides, too often in the hands of the pill pushers, too often in unresolved pain that will manifest out in myriad ways, affecting many many people.

Ah, what a rish I take in even writing this. I risk offending so many people I know personally. Please understand that this is not about TRY HARDER MOM. This is about something so different. About women's healthcare. About conception-pregnancy-breastfeeding as a continuum that lasts for years, not 9 months. About lack of TRUE lactation support being as expected as prenatal care, of a breastfeeding society for real. About coming out with our truths, about sharing our TRUE stories, about taking the ideas of failure out of the lexicon ALTOGETHER when it comes to our mothering. About helping out the next Mama-baby, even if it is not to be our own.

The times that I was there in person, hearing a mother tell a very different tale in regards to her not nursing the second baby at all, I knew I would hear this type of story again and again, and I have.

This particular subsect of women would be extraordinarily difficult to help. But I want to so badly.
There are many comparisons I would like to make soon in the women who have scheduled c sections after the first one. Same deal. Can't imagine "going through all that again just to arrive at failure, so now going to spread that word that surgical birth is awesome, thus negating the reality of my whole experience at the risk of impressionable pregnant women hearing me saying this shit. At the risk of my one reality being lost."

Cost: Another woman's true story. Deleted. Gone.

As I continue to pretend that I am some kind of women's health worker but have never even been to a LaLecheLeague meeting or anything else in my life that would put me out there in a position to help any mamas besides my own pregnant sister (whom I am trying so gingerly to not SCARE) I will use this blog to sound off what I want to do, what I plan to do, what I feel is needed for women, no matter where they are at in their reproductive lives.


Leigh said...

I commend you for taking a risk and speaking your mind. I agree with you 100%.
I do agree that the concept of failure and defeat must be analyzed and ultimately changed so that women instead feel supported and loved. Our culture is one that doesn't support and honor the breastfeeding journey (nor natural birth, nor homebirth, etc) and thus women who struggle even a bit with it (who DOESN'T at some point?) have no cause or incentive to continue. It is really so sad that something as natural and primal and ancient as breastfeeding has been morphed into a kind of "concept" that needs "skills" and is "hard work", etc. Really, it takes surrender, just like every other aspect of motherhood. Surrender and trust in your body's perfect ability.
Love to all mamas.

kris said...

exactly!! it's about EMPOWERMENT. it's about women ENCOURAGING other women, not scaring them, or just telling their war stories to make themselves feel better about the decision they made.

ok, you got me started, i'm going ot have to write my own post about this one;)

but you're so spot on here, thank you for this...

Housefairy said...

Thank you for bringing up surrender. Our society values independance and control above everything else, and these concepts are the utter antithesis to surrender. To motherhood.

I read a book called Mother Nature or something that compared and contrasted societies, both third world and Japan, Scandinavia and our (U.S.) in how they birth, rear their young, sleep together, and how it all relates to the societal attitudes at large. I will have to find out the exact title but it discussed beautifully the ideas of surrender and, for example, how children are seen as blessings and revered, how families co-sleep until well into teenage years, and how that all can be related to seeing yourself as a part of a culture(family) or as an independant isolated island.

Im off topic and yet not.
Ill get back with that book title. But yes, SURRENDER. TRUSTing the babies. So natural. So foreign. Sigh.

emjaybee said...

You know, I do think so much of it is isolation. Isolation makes you crazy anyway, and add no sleep plus the terror of a first baby to it...well, it's kind of amazing anyone gets through it.

I think this problem won't really get better in a big way until we have real maternity leave in this country. Then women would actually have the time to go to LaLeche league meetings, or just hang out with a nursing Meetup group, anything to not be alone/worrying about going back to work in a week. New moms should be doing anything but being new moms, but so few of us have that option. It's really criminal.

I am a Monkey's Momma said...

Have you infiltrated my brain?? You say so many things that I think and believe, only so much more eloquently than I could ever imagine doing.

Thank you for speaking your truth. Not enough women in our society do, and as a result, other women buy into the lies, cover-ups and fabrications, wondering why they feel like such crap after a birth rape, early cessation of breastfeeding or letting their child cry themselves to sleep against their gut instincts. I think that if more women spoke their truth these grave issues would not be so taboo.


I am a Monkey's Momma said...

Ok, so, I'm back. I'm not a stalker, I promise. :)

Your post inspired me to write about the PTSD I dealt with after my baby was born. I posted it on my blog and sent it to the ICAN list in hopes that it will help other Mamas going through something similar. That way, they won't believe that they are complete raving lunatics because they have never heard of getting PTSD from a birth experience, the way I never had.