« Passing the Torch | Main | Smile, grunt, snort »

03/24/2005

I've got a secret

There's something I've been keeping from you.

First, the background. I am beginning to suspect, to my dismay but not my surprise, that Charlie has colic. The yelling has diminished now that the Prevacid has taken hold, but there are still three or four nights a week when he howls for no apparent reason, for a few toe-curling, jaw-clenching, sphincter-twitching hours at a time.

Since we've gotten the reflux more or less under control and he's no longer arching in pain, the screaming is easier to take. Instead of sobbing along with him, I march around the room with him tightly slung, singing loud enough that I can't hear his cries, or I bounce him on my knee emphatically enough to surprise him into silence for a moment, or pat my hand gently over his mouth while he shrieks so that it makes a "bah-bah-bah-bah-bah" noise. (It amuses at least one of us.) The goal is diversion, to distract him from yelling for even a blessed moment so that Paul can hear me when I ask for a motherfucking drink.

This is how I discovered the shameful secret I am about to reveal. Charlie, I found, can latch.

A few days ago, in yet another creative attempt to divert him, I unbuttoned my shirt, yanked loose the cup of my nursing bra, unceremoniously flung Charlie across his Boppy, and presented him with a fleshy ultimatum, ramming him onto my nipple with an authority I had not known I possessed. And he latched like he'd been born to it — as, in fact, he was.

I did it again tonight. And he did it again tonight. He suckled for a good five minutes, swallowing diligently, until he remembered he was supposed to be screaming — and I swear I could see the tiny Christmas tree light-sized light bulb go on above his head — and geared up again into full voice.

Here is what I plan to do with this information: absolutely nothing.

I was surprised by how I felt about his latecoming aptitude — specifically, not much. I'd have expected to feel elated, or relieved, or even, if I'm honest, chagrined. Instead I feel neutral, as if he'd done a trick I'd seen before that didn't impress me then. Big deal, you can latch. Come back when you can photosynthesize.

Giving up breastfeeding was a decision I made with no small degree of grief. A month later I'm over it, and have even grown to appreciate certain advantages of bottle feeding. (Those certain advantages are called sleeping through the 2 AM feeding, nonchalantly sashaying out to the spa for a massage and exfoliation, and never, ever letting my father get even the quickest, most accidental glimpse of my tits.)

I can't imagine retracing those painful plodding steps between anguish and acceptance, much less setting myself up for several weeks of sore nipples, patient positioning, and making myself available for every single one of Charlie's evening clusterpaloozas just when I've started enjoying him.

Will I regret it? Doubt it. I'm a little apprehensive since I know there's no turning back once I stop lactating. But I'm looking forward with indecent pleasure to throwing out my pumping gear, having regretfully concluded I cannot lawfully burn it under current EPA regulations — a clue that I won't be sorry to see the end of this mammalian phase of motherhood.

Comments