Monday, October 26, 2009

The "B" Word

So if you are someone who cringes when you hear the word "breast", you may want to stop reading this and move on to something else. Don't worry, it's not explicit or anything, I just know some people don't want to read that word over and over again. As for me, I used to be one of those individuals not too fond of the "B" word. It just rubbed me wrong ... kind of like the words "moist" and "supple." But, as I'm sure all new mothers do, I got over it. The word is just too prevalent in any and all baby products to have an aversion to it. They just throw it around like any common day noun or adjective. There are breast pads, breast cream, breast shields, you name it. There's even a nursing pillow called My Breast Friend (seriously, this stuff is too good for me to make up).

I tried to avoid the "B" word as much as possible leading up to the birth of the triplets, but once I had them, it was useless to resist. Because my babies were 9 weeks early, they were in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for a month. The most precious commodity a premature baby can receive is breast milk. So, while recovering from my c-section in the hospital, I became friends with the biggest breast accessory of all - the breast pump.

Most of my friends having babies registered for and received breast pumps at their baby showers. I didn't register for one because they were super expensive and I just didn't know how the breast feeding would go with triplets. Sure, I wanted to try to do it, but I wasn't sure enough to ask someone to spend $350 on a pump for me. Once we discovered that you could rent pumps, we thought that would be the best route. Don't worry, you just rent the actual pump, not the accessories. The hospital actually gives you the accessories after you give birth and lets you use their pumps. Once you go home, you can rent a pump from most local pharmacies. You have not felt humiliation until you have to walk into Walgreen's and announce that you need to rent a breast pump. It gets worse after that because they make you carry it out in a large, hard plastic container with "Breast Pump" stamped all over it. But because I could not be with my babies all the time, I had to have the pump to feed them as much breast milk as possible. So I took one for the team and marched out of the Walgreen's with my breast pump suitcase and my head held high.

I guess I should mention that when you rent a breast pump from the pharmacy, you are renting the mother of all breast pumps. This thing is way more powerful than anything you could find in a baby store. I almost felt like I was operating under cover in the black market of some secret breast pump cartel when I brought it home. This thing is big and it is LOUD. The people at the beast pump company must have known what they were doing when they named this particular model the "Symphony." I had the sound of the breast pump in my head non-stop. I sang songs to its rhythmic beat and even had dreams with the sound in the background.  Learning to use the pump was a feat in and of itself. I won't go into details, but it definitely took time and practice. Luckily I learned most of the tricks in the hospital and got a lot of help from my sweet husband. Girls, you don't know how much he loves you until that pump comes-a-callin'.

If you do decide to breastfeed or pump, you have to know up front that you are throwing all inhibitions to the wind. So many years ago when I was just a novice pumper in the hospital, I was so modest about covering up or making sure the doors were closed and locked before I pumped. Little did I know that I was fighting a losing battle. I didn't realize that breast pumps were created as a modesty-stripping device by a mother years ago. See, now-a-days I have no qualms sniffing my kids' behinds in public, talking about pee and poo with my husband, or buying a potty video at Target. Apparently the use of the breast pump is just the way to break you of any anatomy-related modesty so you are prepared to tackle everything that comes in the future with your children. I learned this first hand at the hospital the day I was checking out after giving birth to the triplets. I was slowly starting to master the pump and I had just managed to hook myself up when the nurse knocked on the door. I flinched and my husband jumped up and told her as she was walking in that I was pumping. We assumed that was all the hint she would need to turn around and come back later. However, imagine my surprise as I watched in horror when she simply walked in the room and sat down in front of me while I was pumping to give me my discharge instructions. I guess she was too busy looking over the instructions to notice the look of complete embarrassment upon my face. And that began my transition from modesty to bare-it-all. I am breastfeeding my last baby right now and I still use the pump when needed. I can't just leave the triplets unattended while I go pump discretely in another room, can I? So, yes, they are familiar with the pump. My hope is that they are too young to remember anything later in their lives.

I am so thankful to my breast pump for helping me through those early times with the babies. Sometimes I can still hear her old rhythmic sound in the back of my mind when I think back to those days of endless pumping for the triplets. And though she stole my modesty, she helped my babies get to where they are today. I can truly call her my "breast" friend.

1 comment:

  1. JoAnne,

    This post is hilarious!! And it is so true!!

    I've lost most of my modesty from having children, but I do try to hold on to some... Whenever I nurse my daughter in public, I use a nursing cover. But of course it is called a "hooter hider"!! (No joke -- google it!!)

    I really enjoy reading your blog!

    - Kim
    (I swam with Matt at Davidson)