Friday, August 19, 2011

For Whom the Dinner Bell Tolls

Feeding a baby seemed like a pretty simple task before I became a parent. Baby cries = baby hungry = feed the baby. As I was soon to discover, there are many facets to this seemingly natural task. First, let's discuss nursing.

That's right, breastfeeding. I had heard tales of failed attempts, extreme pain, inability to latch, something called “nipple confusion”, low milk production and skin left cracked and bleeding. Sounds great. Sign me up. My hopes were high but my expectations were realistic. Luckily, my son could suck the copper off a penny if he tried, so latching wasn't an issue. After a few days we got the hang of it, and to my surprise, nursing was going very well! Liam was back up to his birth weight in one week. Soon though, the routine set in and the reality of becoming a milk machine substantiated itself. Having a baby attached to you every three hours is quite draining. Literally.

So there's nursing during the day, when you are marginally alert, and there's nursing during the middle of the night, when you feel as though someone has replaced your brain with mushrooms and swapped your reality for the vacuum of space. To be awoken at 3am by the sounds of your sweet baby wailing is something akin to waking up to a barrage of artillery shells going off around your bed. I usually stagger to my son's room, assess his crying, (hungry, tired, grumpy, gassy etc.) and if hunger is the culprit, it's time to nurse. After a few of these nocturnal feedings, by sunrise, I feel a little inhuman.

Burping is another activity I thought little of until I spent a good portion of my day doing it. Burping is equally as important as feeding because you don't want gas bubbles causing pain in your little one's delicate system. Liam is an expert burper (and farter in case you were wondering.) After each side, I hoist him on to my shoulder and vigorously pat his back. Josh is so good at burping Liam, in fact, that sometimes I just hand him over and he burps the moment he enters his daddy's arms. At first these burps were nothing more than that, clamorous escapes of air. Recently, however, they have been accompanied by excesses of mucus and milk. That's right, spit-up. He can heave it down his front, smear it across his face, and catapult it over my back, dripping the milky remnants onto the carpet. He's truly an artist. A Jackson Pollock of regurgitation.

But beyond the episodes of my petite gourmand there lies the incredible satisfaction of nourishing my child. To look down and see his little milk mouth brings a smile to my face. I've been richly blessed by my nursing experience and I can't thank God enough for how rewarding it has been. Through the fog of late night feedings, the monotony of burping, and the crossfire of spit-up, I know that it's all worth it. Even when he splatters his breakfast all over himself, me, his clothes, the burp cloth, the couch cushions, the pillows, the floor, the dog . . .  

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