Tuesday, May 14, 2013
How Not to Mess Up Breastfeeding
My wife never was one who thought she was going to have kids. She was a career woman until I, a teacher of art, came into her life. My life was all about kids and well, somehow I wore her down and convinced her to have some. Once this happens, and if your wife has a relatively easy pregnancy, she will usually let it happen again. When it came to the conception of our second and third kids, my wife planned it all out. My wife is organized and I'll be damned if there wasn't a spreadsheet that I had to initial on the back of the bedroom door when we were trying.
Our son was born in 2005 and other than that time she nearly passed out while driving because of the baby's position on some major arteries, her pregnancy was uneventful. After that event, my wife was put on bedrest, which for her was the worst sentence. When the doctor told her she couldn't drive or fly anywhere she looked at her like she had a second head. She's always on the go and had planned to work up until the very moment our boy arrived. Instead, she worked from home, thus interfering with our plan to deliver at a hospital that was 15 minutes from her work... now 45 minutes from our home. Kids have a way of changing your plans.
Okay, onto the subject at hand... Breastfeeding... As mentioned, Adam was born in 2005, and we discovered pretty quickly that he was not successful at latching on to nurse and after many frustrating days and nights we called in a lactation consultant. For weeks we did what was called finger feeding. This involved using what was basically a beer bong for breast milk that you taped to your finger. You sit there letting the baby suck on your finger hoping they will get the sucking idea down without clamping down. The whole process took lots of time and was frustrating. I would sit there cheering him on like a college frat party "Come on, chug, chug, chug!" In the end, we saved ourselves the ongoing agony and turned to the bottle. He seems to have turned out okay, by the way.
Despite the whole breastfeeding experience for my wife, she graciously decided to have another one with me in 2007. A girl this time, whom I totally interfered with in the breastfeeding process. I wanted to be a part of everything, and I mean everything. I'm such an idiot. This is something that I want to caution all new eager dads about. I was on my leave from teaching high school I was so anxious about quieting the baby and I missed the bottle feeding time I had with Adam. So lets just say I was not so patient waiting for my wife to come home from the store, or work, to feed Sarah. With her only 20 minutes away, I would give in to my temptation and snuggle up to her with the bottle. That's right, I stole her thunder. I sabotaged the breastfeeding. This my dad friends is how to successfully mess up breastfeeding. My wife would be taking a quick break running to the store, and she'd come home ready to burst with no hungry baby waiting - instead just a machine ready to milk her like a cow. Don't be a jerk. Hold off unless your wife gives you permission - we have cell phones and texting now after all - I mean, it isn't like it was in 2007! If your wife is working and pumping at work she can't wait to release those puppies for the real deal baby when she gets home. New dads, let me give you some advice. Let them have their time. Don't even suggest a bottle, ask instead how you can help. If you are struggling in the early days, hire a lactation consultant (frequently insurance will help with this expense) because other than motorboating, you have no experience with breasts like these people do.
While attempt number one failed even with a consultant, and I sabotaged number two, by the third time around, in 2010, I finally figured it out with Heidi. I stopped meddling in the baby/mommy time. Instead I focused on taking care of my wife while she took care of the baby. I watched the other two kids while she had special bonding time with Heidi. She gave me strict instructions to back off. She even stayed in the guest room with the baby, away from distractions (me) and managed the feeding schedule on her own. She got coaching from friends who had nursed. I too finally got it right and let my wife have her glorious nursing experience with at least one of our kids. This was her time - I've got my own time. Sorry honey, but like most things you have to say it at least three times before I really get it.
If our lives were an episode of Scooby Doo, my wife would have been the one saying "I tried to get these kids to nurse.... If it weren't for that meddling husband, I would have gotten away with it." The best advice I can give to new dads and dads who are building additions to their house is, don't meddle. Be supportive. Keep your wife hydrated. Call in the experts. Fluff her pillows. No, not those pillows! Bring them some Lansinoh. Wash her laundry - including her breast shields. Someday those fabulous fun-bags will again be yours so don't mess this up. Do whatever it takes to support her breasts!
Just know this, those things, as tremendous as they are, are NOT for you. If you experience anything beyond looking at them and marvelling at them you are one lucky bastard. Breastfeeding boobs are like porn star boobs. If only for a period of time, at least you can have those mental snapshots. Camera 1, Camera 2.