Let me preface this by saying how very glad I am that Max was born very near his due date and that I feel supremely grateful and lucky that he got to come home with us instead of staying in the NICU like Zoe had to for three weeks. However, that experience made me totally unprepared for the bringing-the-baby-home-with-you one. With Z, I went home from the hospital, sad and tired. But then I slept all the night through and was, the next day, just sad, not tired. It's easier to heal sad than tired. Then, when we lived 4 blocks from the hospital, I walked over to bring her milk (Erik tended to skateboarded rather than walk the breastmilk over) the next day. Today, I walked 3/4 miles. It took almost an hour. Last night, I slept intermittently between the 1 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. feeding and was poking the baby awake by 6:45 since I was up anyway. So, happy but tired and more sore and slowly-healing than I was with Z.
But the worst part is the breastfeeding. With Z, she couldn't eat the minute she was born. The suck, swallow, breathe talent takes a few weeks to learn when you're as preemie as she was. Max was born knowing how to do all three at once. Which is great for eating. Not so great for the nipples. There's a sharp shock of pain every time he eats that is getting better, but again, only slowly.
I'm surprised anyone breastfeeds. I don't think our species, and particularly me, is very good at weighing long-term benefits versus short-term ones. The short term benefits of bottle feeding are that it doesn't hurt your boobs. Also, babies sleep longer through the night. Sleep! At night! Directly home from the hospital, these benefits are pretty glaring. It takes a lot of commitment to keep it up.
Plus, the whole manner of convincing you to breastfeed is lame. Breast is best? Annoying, easy rhyme. The long list of health benefits is so obvious. Of course, I'll breastfeed! But at 2 a.m., when you think you're dying of the pain that stabs from nipple to to spine, you think your immediate survival would probably outweigh those nebulous immunological benefits.
Then, there's the whole "is the baby latching correctly" element to the breastfeeding campaign. Look La Leche people, it takes more than two hands to get the baby to open his mouth wide, hold him, and "make a sandwich with your nipple." Plus, no matter how you manage to juggle all these things, it seems the baby readjusts his mouth to suit him anyway. Holding the head "right", not crouching over, relaxing are really impossible tasks when you're not breathing from pain. I think the best campaign would be: Brestfeeding hurts for the first two weeks, pretty much no matter what. Suck it up. The female human species has suffered thusly for millions (right? millions? Lucy was 3 million years old) of years. You can do it too without the help of Enfamil or Similac.
Still, I'm surprised (and happy for those who can) that as many people breastfeed as they do. Although, when I really think about it, the stabby pain isn't so bad after a minute. And only I get to hold the baby for those eating minutes. And it's really kind of fun, in this life-sustaining, baby-connecting kind of way.
But still I wonder, do opossums' nipples hurt?