Ouch. Double ouch. Over the last few weeks, we gradually replaced nursing or pumping sessions with formula. After nine months of 99% mama’s milk, the challenges of pumping for an hour a day while still getting work done, combined with other factors, made me decide to move Axel from the boob to the bottle and sippy cup. On Monday morning, Axel nursed for the last time. It’s been 48 hours without milke expression and damn does my chest hurt.
I admire – and envy – those mothers who are able to stick with it. Just 36% of mothers make it to six months. I was lucky enough to have the support of family, a great lacation consultant, a private place to use the dreaded pump at work, and a body/baby that could make it work, with some guidance and training. If I were at home with Axel, I think we’d still be nursing. I’ve got mixed feelings about it all – the working, the mothering, staying at home, boobs and bottles and babies. Formula is seriously expensive. Thought I hated nursing in public, and could never get comfortable with the possibility of showing that much skin to strangers even if it was for the nourishment of my child, it (after lots of work in the first four months) was easy to roll out of bed, wander sleepily down to Axel’s room, scoop him up and bring him back to bed with me for an early morning nursing/cat napping session. But it’s also easy to hand Axel a sippy cup to drink from/bang on the floor while I make dinner. He doesn’t seem to miss nursing.
As I said, it hurts. Seriously. I don’t remember the inital postpartum engorgement aching this much – probably because my whole body felt like I’d been walloped with a bag of bricks and so one more ache wasn’t noticeable. The whole neck to waist area feels fragile; I don’t want my husband to touch my arm, let alone hug me, because he might bump into my chest. Awhile back, I went mountain biking with my father – and, while I am moderately outdoorsy and athletic, I am no good on two wheels and have been told I pedal like a first grader. Biking on a steep dirt trail was not a wise choice. On the way down a hill, my tire caught on a branch and I dove over the handlebars and landed in a rock pile. The left side of my body bruised and oozed and bloodied, and was swollen and tender for weeks. I crept gingerly around, trying to keep my pants from touching my leg. This is a similar sort of pain – less than labor, less than when I broke my arm in two places, less than a rotator cuff tear, but enough to make me generally prickly.
I made the mistake of strapping Axel on with the Baby Bjorn. Owwwww. Then, during a diaper change, he kicked me right in the boob. Yes, there was some swearing in the nursery. I tried to go on a run, and made it a mile before I had to turn back due to boob cramps – that was a first. Last night, I took a shower; that helped, while I was in the shower, but the aches came back right after I got out. Then I draped a bag of frozen asparagus and carrots across my chest. Mixed vegetables eased the pain, but I can’t walk around with frozen produce duct taped to my chest. Or can I? Maybe I can affix ice packs to my bra and then wind bubble wrap around myself. Add a few martinis and I may have found the solution to all that ails my boobs. If I wear a baggy shirt, maybe no one will notice all the extra padding….