Updated: Nov 6, 2021
by Renea Dijab
Anthology: THAT TIME OF THE MONTH
I knew before my child was born that I would breastfeed. I didn’t even take the free formula home with me from the hospital. I took a breastfeeding class, read books, and watched You Tube videos. I was ready.
What I was not ready for was the mind-blowing, toe-curling pain that occurred every time the little blood-sucker latched on. It took a couple of weeks before my girls were so desensitized that you could have slugged me in the chest with a baseball bat, and I wouldn’t have felt anything, and two weeks is a (fucking) long time, when that blinding white pain is happening every two hours around the clock.
It is a form of torture rarely acknowledged in the hippy dippy, Mother Earth culture of the breastfeeding world - And this was with me doing everything right. Perfect latch-on every time. Massaging soothing cream on my nipples after every feeding - But, every time she let loose with that dreaded “hungry cry“ my head shot the message to my body to… RUN! DANGER! DANGER!
In actuality, the pain was really only when she first latched on which lasted, at most, thirty seconds, but for the love of God (Jesus Christ), that was a LONG thirty seconds. Imagine someone beating your pinky toe as hard as they can with a hammer over and over again… but only for half a minute. Then imagine that happening repeatedly every two hours for two weeks – that’s far too many thirty second intervals of tit-torture.
I also planned to breastfeed for the first six months, then after introducing solid food; continue to nurse until one year. That was my plan. None of the many books I read told me that by the time she was a year old, my little beast was going to have plans of her own.
Specifically, those plans were that she was going to gnaw on Mommy’s hooters all the way to college.
Something very important that I have learned as a Mom is that within a wide range of parenting choices, you should never judge another parent. You can’t condone child abuse, or letting kids eat at the garbage dump, but there are a variety of socially acceptable options that will not kill the kid, or worse, require intensive psychotherapy later in life. Maybe it is not your way, but don’t judge, because I can promise you that shit will come home to bite you in the ass.
When my friend had a baby a decade earlier than me, she nursed that boy until he was 2 ½ years old. Well, I talked about her like a dog – not to her face mind you, but holy shit, I was freaked out to see a grown child watering at the trough.
I’d say things to mutual friends like “if a child can un-do the buttons of your shirt,
they’re too damn old to be nursing!” I only saw nursing as a form of feeding a baby until it got teeth and could chew. So fast forward to me and my baby, and I wound up nursing for 2 years and 5 months. Karma is a cruel and vicious mistress.
When my daughter was an infant, I started calling it “the Nip” and would say to her, “Want a Sip at the Nip?” It was all fun and games until she was old enough to talk and would plainly say out loud - in a restaurant - “I want Nip!”
Here’s a little piece of advice for you: Do not make up funny names for your breasts if you plan to nurse a baby until they can talk.
I think back to the time I was appalled to see my friend’s child assist himself in uncovering her breasts for nursing, and then cringe remembering the playdate where my toddler was chasing the other little ones around, stopped in mid-run, came over, lifted my shirt, nursed for approximately three seconds, then dashed off after her friends again. I had just become a water fountain.
No one tells you that when you are nursing a child as old as a year, that they have a mind of their own. And unlike a pacifier, you can’t take ‘em off and hide them in a drawer and tell her the “Tit Fairy” took them away.
After the water fountain incident, where I was left feeling particularly used, I instituted the rule: No Nursing in Public. We would not nurse in front of other people unless she was sick or frightened at say, the doctor’s office.
At age two, I knocked it back to morning, naptime and night. I thought that was a reasonable compromise and she seemed okay with it too. But, a few months after that, with no end in sight (this girl loved her some Nip), I started dangling a carrot. I offered her a “Big Girl Party” when she stopped nursing. She had to make it three whole days with no “Nip” to get the party.
I brought up the party every single day: What kind of cake do you want? Ooo! Or what about cupcakes… with sprinkles? And what kind of theme do you want? Barney? Elmo? Yes, the irony that all these years after tearing my toddler-nursing friend a new one, I was negotiating a nip-cease-fire with my daughter by offering an elaborate reward, which we were capable of discussing, was not lost on me.
I was feeling desperate. I was nearly deranged by the prospect that I was getting closer and closer to breaking my friend’s record of 30 months, but finally, the day came… one day… then two… then three… it was PARTY TIME! I let her have cupcakes and a cake and any and every theme she wanted. We were all over the map: we had Clifford balloons, Curious George Plates and Nemo cupcakes. She got tons and tons of presents, most of them from me. Her grandparents drove in from three states away. It was quite a celebration - she was so proud of her new Big Girl status – but no one was happier than me. I have to say though, until I nursed my own child, I had no idea of the bond that is created through that act; that it is truly about much more than food. But, I felt my job was complete. I had cared for her in this incredible way, for as long as she needed. In the end, she was the one to wean herself… when she was ready… with heavy encouragement from me. Thankfully, I was not going to have to nurse her to sleep at night in her dorm room and all was
right with the world.
Until potty training, that is…