Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Tale of Two Ti++ies

This post is part of the baby feeding carnival hosted by Sarcastic Mom. Please click the icon below for more information.
An Unusual Story in Three Parts

Part the First:
In September of 1975, a few weeks before my twelfth birthday I had an accident. Like most kids at that time I loved Indian cotton gauze shirts and on that day I was wearing a gorgeous pink and orange bodyshirt that snapped at the crotch so it would look cool with hip huggers. I walked into my grandmother's kitchen and stirred the sauce on her gas stove. My shirt went up in flames.

Because it was a bodyshirt, I could not get it off and received third degree burns from my waist to my neck and on both upper arms and underarms. My shirt and bra melted deep into my skin causing extensive damage. When the remaining fabric was sent by the insurance company for testing, it was learned that the fibers were dyed with a petroleum based fixative. I was wearing a gas can. Aside: My accident report was used in Congressional testimony resulting in new regulations banning flammable clothing imports to the US.

After several surgeries over many years including skin grafts, scar releases and a particularly tricky reconstructive surgery just before my eighteenth birthday that involved removing half of my bre asts and moving and rebuilding the damaged are olas and nip ples using skin from other parts of my body, I had to ask my plastic surgeon "Is there any way that they will function? Will I be able to nurse a child one day?".
The answer was no.

Part the Second:
In the fall of 1989 I became pregnant with my first child. Aside from the usual expectant mother emotional sensitivity, I was particularly angry every time I picked up a new mother guide and read the section on feeding or turned on the tele and saw yet another formula add telling me "bre astfeeding is best". I actually did a lot of weeping over this thing I would never experience.

When my little Bear arrived, I did a standard impersonal city hospital birth. We were apart due to some complications. A nurse brought him to me for feeding and when I asked for a bottle, I got a very nasty lecture. I lost it. Instead of patiently explaining why I needed a bottle, I tore off my gown, flung it on the floor, and showed her in all it's angry, red scarred glory why bre astfeeding just wasn't possible. I behaved very badly.

In the end, Bear grew strong and healthy and happy. I got over feeling resentful when my three sisters nursed their babies (can you believe that all four of were pregnant at the same time?) while I pulled out the bottle. The angry feelings subsided with time and hormones. I never did get over the disappointment, though.

Part the Third:
In the Summer of 1994, I had my second child. This birth was calm and safe and happy and my little Bunnie never touched a bassinet. Instead she was snuggled to my chest from the very moment she was born and there she stayed for most of the next two years.
A funny thing happened after about a week of snuggling, rooting, sweet smelling baby attached to my chest. My milk came in.

I called my mother. I called the midwife. I called the visiting nurse. I called the La Leche League instructor. It took time, adjustments, patience and not a little pain but Bunnie did it. She found a way to nurse despite my physical limitations.

With the help and support of these women and the amazing mothers in my LaLeche group, we made it through abscesses, infections, teething, and a host of other challenges. Bunnie nursed on demand until she decided she was done at around two years of age. I will swear up and down and tell anyone who will listen how much I loved nursing my baby and the wonder and joy of baby led weaning. That is why I call Bunnie my miracle worker and that is why I shared a very emotional, personal and absolutely true story with you.

You'll understand why I'm turning comments off for this post.