Yesterday afternoon, I was nursing baby C in our room like I do every day, when he started laughing. While he was breastfeeding.
Suck suck. Giggle. Suck suck suck. Stop. Smile, milk dribbling out the sides of his mouth. Suck. Giggle again. Suck suck suck.
For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what he was laughing about.
He’s in the “distractible baby” stage of breastfeeding, which means darkened rooms with no sounds, otherwise he’s jerking his head all around to see what he’s missing out on. But this? Dude was staring at my plain black sleeve. And. Just. Laughing. Maybe he was remembering some joke another baby told him at playgroup. Maybe he was remembering earlier in the day, when my dad was making that stuffed dog woof at him, which he thought was hilarious at the time. I don’t know.
But it was completely fucking awesome.
And, yeah, it would be awesome for any mother to experience that. But for me? It was ray-of-sunlight-on-a-dark-overcast-day Awesome. It was unseen-chorus-singing-Hallelujah Awesome.
Because, if you remember this post, then you should know that I am many, many of the women I wrote that post for.
I had a rough time with breastfeeding the Threenager, when she was born. She really didn’t get the latching thing, so there was lots of pain, lots of visits to the breastfeeding clinic, lots of weight checking because she wasn’t gaining well, and did I mention lots of pain? But we finally got it, and I nursed her for almost two years. So this time, I figured it would be a cinch. I had pretty much experienced every problem relating to breastfeeding EVER, so I was a goddamn expert.
Boy, was I wrong.
Sure, baby C appeared to latch like a champ and sucked and gained well, but I had persistent pain, long after the “nipple adjustment period” that all breastfeeding moms go through. It wasn’t until he was 3 months old that he was finally diagnosed with a minor tongue tie. One that obviously wasn’t affecting how much milk he was getting, but was causing ME enormous amounts of pain. Unfortunately, while cutting a tongue tie when a babe is young ain’t no thang, when they get older? It can cause them to completely refuse the breast. So I opted out. And opted for long term pain, with blocked ducts and regular milk blisters.
Breastfeeding, which is supposed to be this beautiful, almost sacred, bonding experience for mother and child, has been a source of anxiety, stress and constant pain, for me. For almost 7 months now.
Baby C’s giggles and milky smiles were a balm, for me. After several moments of staring at him in confusion, I couldn’t help but laugh myself. Laughing! It felt wonderful.
My shoulders dropped away from my ears, my stomach unclenched, and I took a deep breath. And smiled.