07 March 2010

Eight months down, four months to go. It's getting a bit tedious.

UpdatedThankyou all so much for your encouragement - it is going fine and I really couldn't compare current feedings to what you usually go through in the first few weeks!  And yet, it's never pain-free unless you possess no nerves in your -er- thumbs.  Do remember that ultrasounds of feeding babies' mouths show a nipple stretch of up to 2.5 times the usual length, and pause to wonder why it doesn't hurt for some people!  (Lucky ducks!)  It's quite normal for some women to say it's never nice.  Try stretching your earlobe to 2.5 times its usual length five to eight times a day, and then wonder why some professionals say it "should be painless"!  Joseph and I are doing fine, but I for one am looking forward to the day I will reclaim my body as my own, and finally buy some nice non-maternity undergarmentry that actually fits (and isn't six years old.)  Until then, I am more than happy to keep on going.  And remember that just because I keep on going will NEVER mean I judge women who don't, okay?  Thanks for your comments - I know that if I did call it quits, I have heaps of support out there (in addition to the new undergarmentry I have promised myself.)

Original Post:

Breastfeeding.  Some mothers love doing it.  I think the only way I can explain what it's like to someone who loves it is by asking them to imagine that in some twisted, different universe, nourishing your child could be achieved by pounding your thumb with a hammer.

From when that baby pops out of you until around their first birthday (or sooner or later,) multiple times every single day of every week of every month of that  first year, whenever that baby needs his or her tummy filled, you can achieve it by giving your thumb one good solid thump with a hammer.

It hurts every single time.  Sometimes it hurts worse than others, but every time the baby cries you get that "Oh no, the baby is hungry, I'm going to have to do it all over again" feeling.  And you head on out and pound your thumb with that hammer.

Some of your friends who are also in the thumb-pounding stage of life don't have any trouble.  They claim that thumb-pounding is easy for them, and they and their babies immediately fell into a happy rhythm after the birth, getting skin-to-skin contact and starting the thumb-hammering right then and there in the delivery room.  They hammer their thumbs every twenty minutes, they hammer their thumbs while walking around the house getting on with life, they hammer their thumbs while side-lying in bed.  And for you, hammering your own thumb is painful and difficult and it never gets any easier.

They label their babies "good babies" because their thumbs don't hurt after being mercilessly pounded with hammers.  You feel the sting of the implication that your baby may possibly be a "bad" one because your thumbs actually hurt with one good whack of the hammer, not to mention repeating the torture eight times a day.

Your thumbs hurt constantly and the pain does not subside before the baby is hungry once again, meaning you have to pound thumbs that are already sore and sometimes bleeding from the last pounding.

All the current literature says that if you keep on pounding those thumbs regularly every time the baby whimpers, they will suddenly stop hurting when the hammer falls.  "Just persist," writers suggest cheerily.  "It will get better."

In addition to the literature, there are a group of professionals who specialise in this field.  They are called "Thumb-Pounding Consultants."  Some of them understand that for some people, smashing the thumbs with a hammer actually does hurt and always will hurt every time.  But some of them seem to be employed solely to convince you that there will be no pain if you start pounding the same thumbs with the same hammer, but using a slightly different position

So you try all sorts of positions, but it seems to you and the Thumb-Pounding Consultants positioning is perfect while your thumbs are being pounded.  If you then confide to the Thumb-Pounding Consultant that you're actually suffering toe-curling pain, she will recommend that the thumb-pounding be stopped, everyone involved should change their position slightly, and then you reattempt to pound your thumbs.  But you're still in pain.  It's easier to tell a lie and say everything is much better, just to stop the consultant from annoying you while you grit your teeth against the pain.

Imagine too that there is a quick, easy and relatively inexpensive way to artifically infuse your baby with nourishment that avoids any thumbs being pounded with any hammers ever again.  You notice that babies being nourished this way suffer the same number of illnesses, are at the same risk of allergies and appear to develop at the same rate as the babies who are nourished while their mothers pound their aching thumbs with hammers.

However, for no reason other than that you are certifiably insane, you continue with the thumb-pounding method.  For a YEAR.  Because it makes so much sense.

I bet that if one was forced to whack one's thumbs with a hammer each and every time the baby fed, one wouldn't "demand-feed."  Wouldn't feed until your child was one.  Would laud the day your child started eating "solids" instead of waiting as long as possible.

Sometimes I envy those of you who find it easy.

Not least because in the week after giving birth, soaking off blood-encrusted breast pads in the shower is no fun.


Heather said...

I would love to sympathize, but being one who never had the opportunity to pound my thumb - erm, I mean breastfeed - as a means of nourishing my child, I cannot.

Though did you know that there is actually a whole group of women out there in the adoptive parent community who do all that they can so that they can, in fact, breastfeed their *adopted* child? Seriously. I was so NOT one of them.

I was a bottle-fed/formula baby due to the circumstances of my arrival in my family, as was Kiddo due to hers. So far, so good - I mean, I only get that weird twitch when I'm *really* tired. ;-) And apparently neither of the two of us can differentiate between "shiny, silver" and "clear cellophane" rolls of gift wrap, but that's a minor quibble, no?

Hang in there! At least, perhaps, you have code that is working now? Yes?

Emily Sue said...

Perhaps it's time to change the title of this post to "8 months of breastfeeding. Wow, that was impressive." And then buy a few cans of S26. Seriously. As I mentioned in another conversation with you, I am sick of seeing women who hate breastfeeding and/or find it really difficult being bullied or pressured to keep going by those who think they know what's best. And being made to feel incredible guilt. Yes, it's good. No, you can't exactly replicate it in a formula. However, we've all seen PLENTY of kids who were weaned after a couple of months or weeks or days or hours and are just fine. If you want to stop, then stop. This is YOUR choice, based on what YOU feel is right for all of you.

YOUR choice. No one else's. And if anyone criticises you I suggest you whack their thumb with a hammer (and that is NOT a euphemism for anything).

Tracy P. said...

For a YEAR. Because it makes so much sense.

That's where I laughed out loud. You're a better woman than I--six months was plenty for me. I experienced no pain, but yeah, it was not my favorite. But at 8 months you can still quit now and be a better woman than I if you want. You know, in case you needed permission. ;-)

Swift Jan said...

I too suffer the pain of thumb pounding. So you are not alone there, I however have no patience, and give up easily. My hat goes off to you for persisting. I can't actually "get" why, but I think you are brave and if you think its the best thing then thats great. But if guilt is stopping you from switching to the bottle, then I agree with E-S, the people who make you feel that guilt need a bop with a hammer. Either that or a nipple cripple! HAH

You are such a fantastic Mummy! So dedicated to your kids. Well done my dear friend xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Crazy Sister said...

Thumb-pounding consultants are my least favourite people. The assumptions and assertions they make are so misinformed and hurtful, and their attitudes are bossy and beligerant.

Nursing Mothers Nazis, I call 'em.

Of course, there must be SOME good consutlants out there! And hooray for all the successful breastfeeders out there - this isn't an attack, and don't feel guilty.

Some of us have just been bitterly disappointed by the whole bosom debacle.

veiledturnip said...

So sorry to hear your thumb pounding experiences are so terrible. I agree that it is okay to stop. My friend was told by her pediatrician (who sees many babies) that he notices absolutely no difference between thumb pounded babies and artifically infused babies. It was a surprise to hear that, but reassuring for those who struggle.

blue mummy said...

I am so impressed by your persistance.. obviously, even though you struggle, it is something you see as important and I respect that 100%.
I am also at 9 months and aiming for 12... I dont endure any pain or discomfort, I know I am very fortunate. but I AM tired and ready to reclaim my body ... just 3 more months and counting.. *hugs*

Hippomanic Jen said...

Yeah, you see, I always thought it was so simple. Then I started to hear the dreadful stories. Pain. Bleeding. Having to teach the bub to latch on.

And as I've only ever seen animals, it makes no sense to me.

But hey, I was bottle fed. I didn't realise I could blame my asthma and allergies on to the fact that my Mum couldn't feed me. Years of lost teasing.

Seriously, if you feel that what you are doing helps, good on you for making the sacrifice, but I wouldn't think any the less of you if you hadn't done it at all.

Marcia said...

You made it longer than me, I decided my sanity was worth more when Miss Now Eight was seven months old. It was only the well publicised guilt trip of the media, well meaning friends and my mum that kept me going.

It is a chore, it hurts on different levels (first it's let down pain noone can EVER describe right, then it's teeth!). But you know what .... I gave it a crack, I succeeded for a bit and I am happy for that. You should be proud of what you have achieved so far - stop if you want, don't if you don't want to. You'll know what is right for you, no matter what glares, whispers and snide remarks you have to endure.

Good luck, Marcia

Jen said...

I LOVE that you wrote this because its not easy for all woman and I think that this message needs to be put out there more.

Michelle said...

I experienced similar exhrusiating pain with my (now) 4 year old. Bleeding, teeth gritting, crying. the whole nine. found out later she was tongue tied. too late though!

after a LONG while it did stop (Mostly) hurting...with the occasional soreness..

Anonymous said...

When you look around at all your friends, can you tell who was bottle fed and who wasn't?
I breast fed my daughter for about 6 weeks, 4 of which were not much fun, but the 'fashion' then was to feed only every 4 hours, come what may. I was the only one in the ward breast feeding!!! 5 years later when i had my son things had changed, and I'd learnt a bit more, and I fed him ( but without any pain) until just before his 1st birthday when one morning he decided he would rather get up with his dad than stay and have breakfast with me!!
I think what I am trying to say is that now they are both adults there is no way to tell how they were fed in infancy. In fact my son had more coughs and colds, but then he was the 2nd child.
If after all these months you are still having pain then I'm sure Joseph won't mind if you call it a day!!!
Think about it. There's nothing magic about the 12-month mark and Joseph won't know one way or the other when he's older.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

I am in awe of you for sticking with it. Breastfeeding was only easy for me with one of my 3 children, but even then I didn't do it for a year.

Joy said...

You have my total admiration for breastfeeding this long.
I made it about 2 days. My first daughter wanted nothing to do with it. My second would have. I wish I would have stuck with it a little longer with her.

Don't feel pressured (no pun intended) to keep it up. If it's time to quit, he'll be ok.
♥ Joy

Mum-me said...

So nice to read a post telling the 'other side' of breastfeeding.

I too am very impressed that you can summon the will power to go through it so many times a day when it hurts still.

tinsenpup said...

I'm sorry that breastfeeding has been so painful for you. Congratulations on making it 8 months. I can only hope it improves a little for the last 4.

Whiney Momma said...

I had to laugh when I read this, only because it is coming so close to when I'll be starting this back up. We are due mid-April and even though I have done the breastfeeding thing twice, for variable amounts of time...I do dread that initial nipple pulling, which leads to sore, cracked, even bleeding skin and the pain ! Oh, that pain. I should start twisting them now to get them used to it little by little. I remember last time my daughter would suck so hard, I'd actually pump so that I could give my boobs a break. Luckily, with me it only lasted a couple months so I have to hand it to you, if you are still feeling the pain and chugging along through it, you are the WO-man! Good luck with it whether you do it another week or another 8 months. It ain't easy and we should all pat ourselves on the back for making however long we can.