Almost immediately after a newborn Graham was plopped on my chest, I scrambled to unclasp my bra. I had forgotten all about the unnecessary undergarment while I labored, but as I kissed and squished my slimy infant I felt compelled to remove it, and remove it fast! The straps got tangled in the IV lines and I required help to maneuver and situate but I finally stripped away my clothes and cuddled my infant directly to my skin. As my small Graham diligently sniffed and rooted, the world around me began to blur. He latched on within minutes, and I reveled in peace and accomplishment.
Although Graham nursed earnestly from the beginning, I struggled to physically acclimate and a couple weeks after we returned home I finally called a lactation consultant. “He’s getting plenty, but it hurts so badly,” I complained. After asking a series of questions (which apparently I answered satisfactorily) and discovering that I had successfully nursed his two sisters, she went on to downplay my concerns and tell me cheerily, “It will get better!”
Feeling a little disgruntled, I took to the internet and discovered the laid back nursing position which helped alleviate a lot of the pain and issues we were having. Eventually, we figured things out and nursing Graham became simple, easy, and fun!
His first Sunday in church I had wrapped him up snug in the Moby wrap and he snoozed peacefully, protected and comfortable. The morning was going flawlessly and I was actually feeling pretty puffed-up as I smiled at familiar faces and settled into the sermon.
About half way through the service my little son began squirming and fussing, inviting unwanted attention and sideways glances from those around me. I suddenly realized that because he was wrapped in so many layers of fabric, his boob access was significantly diminished! We were a ticking time bomb as I tried to release him from the six feet of material wrapped around us in an exasperating pattern of crisscrosses and loops… I needed to not only remove this fragile, squawking infant from his place on my chest but also remove all of the fabric wrapped around my torso, find a nursing cover in the well stocked diaper bag, and discreetly disrobe my leaky boob. I became painfully aware of the strangers siting to either side of me and the people packed like sardines in front of me and behind me.
Suddenly, this smug mother of three got a little panicky and totally caved to the pressure! I shot up out of my seat – balancing a now wailing Graham, miles of loosened Moby, and a ridiculously overloaded diaper bag I shuffled past legs and bags to make my way out of the sanctuary and into the cool, quiet basement where I finally relaxed and fed my sweet boy, feeling strangely successful despite my failure.
He was the youngest of my babies to grow teeth and the first time he bit down while nursing I yelped in pain – He popped off in surprise and looked at me with bewildered shock. His sisters had responded much the same way, but instead of bursting into tears and sobbing his promise of never doing such a horrible thing ever again (as both of his sisters had) – his face broke into a huge grin and he giggled before snuggling back to his lunch. He continued to follow up subsequent bites with the same guiltless smiles and laughs despite my attempts of teaching him cause and effect… and pain! All told, he only bit me a handful of times and never seemingly on purpose!
As Graham grew older, he nursed less frequently and more predictably. He would often want quick, hydrating snacks or a chance to reconnect and soothe. He specialized in the kick-back maneuver to communicate his desire to nurse. While sitting on my hip or in my lap he would throw his whole body back, propelling his torso into the nursing position, and I always knew exactly what he wanted. Although It was a deliberate movement pattern, to an inexperienced person it may well have gone unnoticed. I love it when I get the chance to watch a baby using this technique to converse with their own mother – I recognize it immediately, and am reminded of my son.
On the day he died, Graham nursed just once. In the early morning hours, I cee’ed my body around his while his toes curled into my soft, fleshy belly. He played with my hair and patted my chest. We were warm and sleepy, safe and happy.