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Self-Serve

December 11, 2011

In the early days after Baby A.’s birth, I recall looking forward to a time when she would be able to eat and hold up her head on her own.  A time when she’d be a bit more independent and self-sufficient in the feeding department.

As we were learning to breastfeed together, I struggled with all of the things that needed to be in order to enable her to eat.  Get her body in line, bring her head towards the breast, prevent her hands from flailing between her mouth and the boob, opening her mouth to get a good latch, supporting her neck, and so on.  By the time I made sure everything was in correct, and rearranged the pieces of the process that came undone as I worked on correcting other pieces of the process, the baby was so frantic with hunger that she was too far gone to eat.  We’d have to calm the baby down and start the whole rigmarole over from the beginning.

I asked a lactation consultant at a local breastfeeding clinic when the baby would be able to eat without so much head support.  I was sure if I didn’t have to worry about her head that breastfeeding would be so much easier.  When she responded somewhere between six and eight weeks, I knew I’d have to drop that ambition.

It took a couple of weeks, but finally Baby A. and I knew what we were doing.  I was no longer worried about getting her to eat.  Breastfeeding became second nature and it was like something we had always done together.  Whenever the baby was hungry, or I thought she was hungry, I would offer her the opportunity to nurse.

In the past few weeks Baby A. has discovered the concept of off.  If you put a hat or a headband on her, she’ll take it off.  She loves to rip off her bib during mealtime.  She’ll pull off her socks and shoes.  Most of the stuff she takes off is from her own body.  With the exception of my t-shirt.

Imagine yourself in bed at night in a deep and restful sleep.  After weeks of sleeping on your side wrapped protectively around your baby, you’ve begun to re-explore the pleasure of sleeping on your back.  The baby lies sleeping beside you, lightly snoring because she has yet another cold.  The baby awakens and rolls to her stomach.  She uses her arms to push her chest up and uses her feet to scoot closer to you.  She undertakes a short, yet stealthy, commando crawl.  Suddenly your shirt is being clawed at, hearing this little snorting-grunting-like sound, feeling the cool air on your chest, and then the big chomp of a baby latching on.  All of this takes place in less than 5 seconds.

Your startled eyes flutter open and are greeted in the nightlight lit room by the latched on grin of a baby who has learned that milk can be a self-serve option.

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