Adventures in Breastfeeding :: Stories for the Brave

Not a lot of things come naturally to me as a mother. But to be fair, I was never really good at puzzles. 

Adventures in Breastfeeding :: Stories for the Brave | Houston Moms Blog

I’m great at other things, {perfecting the olive juice to Vermouth ratio in a martini is an art form, really} but becoming a mother wasn’t something I had ever envisioned for myself and my maternal inclinations lean more towards my ability to seldom complain during Peppa Pig reruns.

But I’m not here to brag.

Breastfeeding for me has been one of my greatest triumphs and joys; not to mention, a beautiful surprise. It became something supremely important that I could do for my children and a gift that brought unexpected happiness in my postpartum haze. In fact, I believe it helped with my anxiety and introduction to this parenting world more than anything else. 

Unfortunately, not every mother is able to continue with it as long as they would like, but I know that EVERY mother is doing their best job to keep their children fed and healthy and pooping the appropriate colors {oh yeh, that’s a thing}. So, props to all the dragon tamers out there; ours is a fierce, spectacular love.

Adventures in Breastfeeding :: Stories for the Brave | Houston Moms Blog

It might not have always been easy or peaceful or pain free; but for me, every leak, every unexpected nip, and every glorious tube of Lanolin was worth it. 

Not to mention the added thrill of extra fluffy boobs that came with the gig. My v-neck tees still mourn their loss. 

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I’ve decided to share some of my more memorable milk moments {any alliteration fans out there? You’re welcome}. Not for the faint of heart, but hopefully, you’ll glimpse the love and humor that comes along with this ride. There’s some bravery in there, too. 

Adventures in Breastfeeding :: Stories for the Brave | Houston Moms Blog

Vanilla Latte, Extra Milk

It was never my intention to cover the Starbucks barista in breast milk. Especially, in a straight-from-the-tap situation. Especially, when she had just wiped down the counter.

Milk tends to leave streaks. 

I had spent the morning hiding out in my neighborhood Starbucks, trying to get my five month old to nurse and nap so I could attempt to write a few sentences for the ole’ blog. Or you know, just stare at the wall for a few uninterrupted moments.

I would have considered either success on such little sleep.

I had just established a pretty good latch and an almost sleeping baby, when I noticed the ALWAYS out the door line was as empty as my mug {did I mention, this Starbucks was a local hotspot for tourists in Amsterdam—that expat life, y’all}. I grabbed my baby, still attached to the boob and semi-covered thanks to my extra large sweater, and I ran up to the register; ready to say my request and pay before the line started up again.

I had just placed my order and was handing over my card when my darling babe was startled and quickly picked up her head from my breast, thus creating the Milk Tsunami of ’16. Milk sprayed in several unique directions, one of which, graced the barista’s hand; another, more daring stream, coated the half-priced spicy almond display.

Brightside :: didn’t drop my baby. Not so bright side :: everything else.

As I apologized and tried to clean up the mess while shielding my exposed breast and holding a screaming baby, I noticed the line of preteens forming behind me. I tried to explain the milk mess in the easiest way possible. 

Even though we spoke different languages, a milk drenched sweater, screaming baby, and stunned barista proved to be strong enough to get my point {and sincere apologies} across to every patron within squirting distance. 

They gave me a free cookie. I left them a new pack of wipes. Off-brand, but reliable. 

Adventures in Breastfeeding :: Stories for the Brave | Houston Moms Blog

The Price of Beauty

I had just moved back from living in The Netherlands for three years {and popping out a couple of kids} and was in dire need of some color in my life. Meaning I was pale enough to match the bleached out tips of my hair {it should be noted that I also needed a new hairdresser}. Just a mom in desperate need of a babysitter, adult conversation, and a reason to expose my post-baby bod to a complete stranger armed with a weapon of the utmost bronzing abilities. 

A double wedding weekend and licensed tanning technician was what I needed. 

My daughter had just turned a year old and I felt that she was pretty successfully weaned. I hadn’t nursed her in over a week and my milk supply was already running low towards the end of that year. I had even started wearing a real bra again. 

When I got to the spray tanning place, I casually mentioned that I had recently stopped breastfeeding to make myself feel a little better about their current, sad state. She said it wasn’t a problem at all and was as sweet as could be.

I can only imagine I have become her go-to cautionary tale. Happy to do my part. 

As she started spraying, she mentioned that it would be a bit cold at first. And when that first spray hit my bare chest, I let out a legit yelp. I suppose they were just still tender and startled and maybe somewhere, far far away, a child was crying and my boobs sensed it because almost immediately they started to leak. Not “Scar the Starbucks Barista” spray, but enough of a good trickle that I immediately grabbed my chest and said some not nice words. I attempted to not let any of the milk hit my newly bronzed shins or tan belly, but things happen and there are only so many places you can protect.

And a tan technician’s shirt was not one of them. 

Had I done a wee bit of research before booking that appointment, I would have bought these handy dandy lil nipple pads, stuck them on my nipples, and avoided a lot of horror. For us both. 

We finished the rest of the session with a lot less excitement and absolutely zero eye contact. I left her a tip that would have likely paid for her dinner that night. For two. 

Hush money. 

Adventures in Breastfeeding :: Stories for the Brave | Houston Moms Blog

Another day, another leak. #momlife

London or Bust

I breastfed my firstborn for 13 months with the help of a nifty little device called a nipple shield. For all those fortunate enough to never have purchased one, it is basically a fake nipple that covers your own, thus adding length so your babe can properly attach. 

Just in case I wasn’t oversharing enough. 

But this was the ONLY way I was able to breastfeed. My son never latched on directly and I was a determined little creature. 

My boobs just weren’t very cooperative or kind. 

We moved abroad when my son was 6 months old. Not exactly sure what would be available to me in The Netherlands, I stocked up on nipple shields before heading to Amsterdam. 

We traveled as often as we could before he turned one and became a tiny mobile tyrant. Train trips were our favorite, but on one particular trip, we decided to take the much shorter plane ride to London {less than an hour from Amsterdam}.

I was a fanatic about making sure we were packed and super ready for ANYTHING. As in, even though I knew diapers were available in every country we traveled to, I still packed enough for a three week stay, even when we were only going for a weekend. 

Except that one time I forgot ALL my nipple shields. And realized halfway to London. Just around the time my son let out his first hunger wail.

Did I mention we were on a plane? Yeh. Mid-flight wailing puts you on everyone’s naughty list. 

We tried everything to get my son, probably around 7 months old at the time, to nurse. My saving grace, he was eating solids by then, so we were able to keep him somewhat full for an extended moment. 

Also, didn’t pack my pump. There was no reason I could think of that I would need it. I certainly didn’t think I would be absent-minded enough to leave my shields.

All 84 of them.

By the time we had landed, I had calmed myself down, assured that we would easily find a store that sold nipple shields or handheld pumps. The pain was increasing but there wasn’t any time to find a bathroom and hand-express a bit of that liquid gold.

We walked around the city for what felt like hours, looking for something that resembled a Babies-R-Us or Walgreens. No luck in the shield department, but I finally found a hand-pump {JUST like the one I had at home; it still hurts to think about that wasted money} at the third store we stopped at.

By this time, my chest was so engorged, the moment I placed the pump on my body, the pain was visible as I cried my eyes out in the nearest coffee shop. I could have filled 17 bottles. But I stopped after one, gave it to my son, and went back to the bathroom to seek more relief from this glorious, over-priced product. 

I never forgot a shield again. I think I still keep one in my purse, even though I haven’t breastfed in two years. I’m THAT kind of crazy. And an excellent travel companion. 

Adventures in Breastfeeding :: Stories for the Brave | Houston Moms Blog

This picture was taken immediately after the London Pump Extravaganza of ’15. 

I consider these stories my battle scars. I’m proud of them, they made me stronger, more understanding, and a much better human and mom than I thought I would be. 

I’ve seen my body do extraordinary things. And I will be forever grateful for the bond it created with my favorite small beings. I don’t mind that things sometimes got sticky. That’s what off-brand wipes are for.

And I know at least one barista that will never forget me.

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One Response to Adventures in Breastfeeding :: Stories for the Brave

  1. Kim August 9, 2018 at 8:07 am #

    So funny and so relatable! Breastfeeding can be so, so tough some days. It’ was so necessary for me to keep a sense of humor about it all – otherwise I probably wouldn’t have come out of my house for 6 months to a year! Thanks for sharing!

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