|The first time I fed Kjel|
I think it all started a couple of weeks ago when Gage, Kjel and I were out with a realtor in New York, looking at houses. Steven was three hours away in training so it was just the three of us. Plus the realtor.
I'd spent the first two hours hauling Kjel from car to house in her carseat, praying that she'd stay fast asleep in spite of her wailing brother who had decided that, since the first house we looked at had a small bucket of toys for him to play with, every house must have a small bucket of toys. And when he realized that there were no more buckets in the countless houses we toured, he'd have a break down before and after each home. That is a hard act to balance: serenity for the sleeping one, consolation for the tired/weary/needing-to-play-like-seriously-right-now one.
Anyway, Kjel woke up and her cries said, "Feeeed me! Feeed me!"
"Now this house is more contemporary with its high ceilings and -"
"Um - sorry to interrupt -" both babies are like sirens, "but I have to feed my baby. (Gagegetbackhere! Now! Do not climb under the bed, DO NOT!)"Smile serenely at realtor.
"Yep... so I'll just take her to the car?"
LOTS OF QUESTIONS BEING EXCHANGED BETWEEN REALTOR AND I THAT AREN'T ACTUALLY QUESTIONS.
"All right? I'll let you know when I'm done?"
"I'll just make a few calls while I wait for you?"
I shuffle out to the car holding Gage by his waist while he sobs bitterly for the toy-less world he lives in and Kjel, poor Kjel, half dangling out of her carseat reaching with all of her might for the receptacles of milk that are incredibly sensitive to sharp baby fingernails.
Get in car. Gage is free-range, running, yes running, from the back to the front.
I settle in, pull Kjel over and, aaah, relief. Both of us needed this.
"You know," my brain says, "this could all be alleviated if you'd just pumped last night and brought a bottle."
"I didn't have time."
"Stop asking questions that aren't questions, Brain!"
Try as I might, though, the persistent word "FORMULA" wouldn't leave.
"Now this house has a formula basement and that would work great as a wean room."
"Sorry, say that again?"
"Finished basement that would work great as a teen room."
I am going insane.
It didn't get any easier. Over the next few days I started realizing just how much my life revolves around feeding Kjel.
I became more sensitive to the stares I received in a restaurant when I pulled on my nursing cover and fed Kjel totally clandestinely until she flailed her limbs and flashed the world. I could swear I had savant-like hearing and a girl whispered to her date, "Gross. She's breast feeding that baby."
I became a little more annoyed when I was in a department store and there was no nursing area. Only a cold, stinky restroom wherein I had to coat the toilet with like 800 protective sheets and pray that Kjel wasn't contracting some airborne virus while she tiredly ate amid the sounds of... well, you can imagine.
I rolled my eyes at church when I realized I wouldn't be able to really hear a single word because the mother's room didn't have any type of speaker system in it that linked to the chapel.
Basically, I started weighing the pros and cons of breast feeding and my conclusions were coming closer and closer to rationalization.
See, about a year and a half ago, I made a promise that I would breast feed my next baby for a year. Why a year? I have no idea. I made the promise in desperation as a bargain. I desperately wanted to get pregnant and have a lasting pregnancy. I somehow thought that a promise like this - a promise to do something I had almost no experience with and that would obviously be a sacrifice - might tip the scales in my favor. I realize that I don't have to keep this promise to keep Kjel or anything silly like that, but a promise is a promise. And I want to keep it.
"But then again..." brain said, "she does have a tooth now. She might bite you."
That was somewhat compelling. I certainly did not want to end a feeding with an unwanted nipple piercing.
"You'll get back into shape faster."
"What's your reasoning, Brain?"
"You'll be able to actually diet, not just cut out certain foods. You won't be as hungry. You'll have more time to exercise. You'll be able to go places for long periods of time without the kids. You'll be able to go to sleep at night knowing that someone else can take her. You'll feel better."
I'll feel better?
And then a few nights ago, while nursing I might add, I came across this line in the book "The Zookeeper's Wife":
"The look in her eyes signaled that nothing existed but the flow of warm milk and her mother's reassuring heartbeat."
Though the writer was describing a baby elephant, this was also my sweet KJ. Nursing is our time. Nothing and no one (except Gage in the event of a crisis or a major emotional meltdown) gets in our way. Even if she's spent the whole day being hauled around in her carseat, in cold unfamiliar places with strangers gawking at her and putting their germy fingers on her face and mouth... she is always completely comfortable and relaxed when we nurse.
She's not aware of where we are or who's staring or of her mother's insecurities when it comes to her nourishment. She's just aware of the scent of my skin, the crook of my arm, my long hair that occasionally tickles her face and "the flow of warm milk".
I am not going to wean her. Not until she's good and ready. For all of the trouble and long nights and awkward situations and exhaustion that comes with breast feeding, it's worth it to me.