People said, “Two babies, two breasts. Nature provides” as if any other thought were absurd. But we tend to utilize one hand, favor one foot, lean on one leg. One nostril often clogs before the other. One testicle yields more sperm than its partner. And one breast produces more milk. Maybe that’s why we have two, so one can pass the baton if the other is lame. My left breast is a spigot. The right, a trickling faucet. I’ve consulted Lactation, my midwife, the doctors, friends, books. No amount of water, massage, visualization, herbs, tea, avocado, oatmeal, hot compresses, can coax more out of it. (NO ADVISE, PLEASE – I can’t take it.) I’ve come to think of my right breast as a gym, a place where babies go to work-out, to strengthen those jaw muscles before partaking in the rich, fatty rewards of the left. If the brain controlled breasts as it does motor skills, the artistic right side would be in charge of my left breast. With each feed my little ones would be streaming with creativity. But if the right were dominant, they might grow to favor logic and reason (clearly conflicting with our family dynamic).
We long speculated that breast-feeding was more convenient than formula-feeding. So far, not true. Perhaps it would be if there weren’t two hungry little beasts trying to latch onto one feeding station. They have a habit of bumping each other off even when positioned in the (separate, but not equal) football hold. When the big guy latches-on it always reminds me of a crocodile preying at water’s edge – a lot of wild gnashing and spinning. Once the babies are settled it’s fine, but there’s truly nothing I can do to make them less comfortable and more focused at breast. We could all stand naked in a blizzard having not eaten for three days and they would still be lulled into a state of pure bliss. They become intoxicated, dreamily nursing all the live long day if I let them.
People said, “There’s nothing like the breast-feeding bond between mom and baby” as opposed to the formula-feeding bond. But there’s virtually no difference between the bond I share with my daughters and the bond other mothers share with their biological children. We had piles of skin-to-skin time, lots of loving eye contact. I did everything I could to replicate what I believed my children would have received had I breast-fed them. However, now that I’m in the thick of it, I’m beginning to understand the hype. I’ve heard how beautiful it is, how difficult it can be, how some women love it, and others hate it. But nobody has ever mentioned how empowering and divisive it can be. As I see it, there are several rather dark and important aspects to breast-feeding.
1. The Ultimate Ego Boost: The lactator (in most cases) is responsible for not only growing a human being, but singularly sustaining its life with her body – how could this not go to one’s head?
2. Baby-Hogging: By far, the lactator spends more time than anyone else holding the baby and the rewards are great.
3. Total Control: Not only does she grow, sustain, and hog the baby, but all other central figures must regularly consult the lactator as baby’s world revolves exclusively around nursing.
4. Vantage Point: By sheer default the breast-feeding baby’s drunken gaze is forced upward, straight into the eyes of the lactator. A formula (bottle) fed baby can look around and still nurse, but there’s no other place for a breast-feeding baby to look. Under the circumstances anyone would feel deep adoration.
These points, one in the same really, carry with them the potential of swelling one’shead to regal heights. While some of us feel imprisoned by the dependency, others feel significant, purposeful, whole for the first time in their lives. I don’t know where I fall yet. All I know is that this power is very new and intriguing to me and the phrase that keeps coming to mind is with great power comes great responsibility.
Can you believe the boys are one month old today?