It was just the way I knew it would be.
On May 6, the opportunity presented itself when our son William was born. After his glorious entrance into the world via c-section, the fine folks at Lowell General wheeled us up to the recovery room in a "skin-on-skin" fashion (read: stripped my kid down to his diaper and placed him on my chest under the sexy johnny gown that made me appear to be 300 pounds) and once we were settled encouraged us to partake in the first official magical moment of our mother-son bonding experience...
"OK, Mom! Are you ready to try to nurse?"
Sure. In my deliriously exhausted state after 32 hours of induction, 14.5 hours of labor, and 45 minutes of surgery... nothing could bring me more joy than being able to spend a few moments with my newborn son giving him as much nutrition as my meager sampling of colostrum could muster.
I'm being serious about this, by the way... it'd been a long few days, I was excited for the moment where I could spend a few minutes with the beautiful baby I'd been carrying around inside of me for 40 weeks and 2 days. I was, however, literally deliriously exhausted and am lucky I remember anything that happened in the recovery room at all.
So with the watchful eyes of a lactation certified charge nurse over my shoulder, I brought the one-hour old Baby William to my right breast and waited for that beautiful moment I'd read about in all the books. That moment where awkwardness meets new experience and he flat out rejects my breast, all the while with the nurse encouraging me not to give up... after all, breastfeeding is new for both of us.
That moment, however, never happened. It never happened because I have an amazing son who after 3 licks of expressed milk latched onto my right breast like a champ and gave me three strong suckles before tiring out. It'd been a long few days for him too; he'd been beating his head against a "wall" thanks to induction and a mom who wouldn't dilate enough for him to make a graceful exit. Yet despite how exhausted we both were... there he was, looking up at me with his quiet, big, blue eyes (well... looking up anyway) and latching like a pro.
Talk about a proud mommy moment.
That moment will forever be cherished in my memory... as will the first time I tried to kill my son via unintentional drowning on that same breast.
You see... breastfeeding is a beautiful, wonderful, natural thing between a mother and baby. It also has the potential to be incredibly horrifying at the right moments.
There we were... me and William... me sitting on our living room couch with my feet up, my arm propped up with a pillow for support and our beautiful baby boy laid across my lap. I heard the steady sound of sucking and swallowing that I had grown accustomed to hearing during these times, a quiet reassurance from Will that he was getting the food that he needed from me. I took a sip of water and as I was placing the cup back on its place on the coaster... it happened.
My one-week old son ripped his head back from my breast, opened his eyes incredibly wide, and let out these tiny little coughs. I looked down to see his face covered in white liquid... and my nipple squirting out milk like my poor kid had just won the grand prize on Stanley Spadowski's Funhouse.
(If you don't get the Stanley Spadowski reference, take the 35 seconds and watch this clip.)
I was completely horrified. No one had given me the heads up that my breast would become a sort of drowning device for my child if pressure built up when milk production was doing its finest work. Waves of guilt came over me... what if he hadn't thrown his head back? What if I had actually drowned my kid trying to do nothing more than provide him this beautiful, natural nourishment? Oh, the headlines on the six-o-clock news would have been ones for the ages!
I quickly grabbed the burp cloth I had nearby and pressed it against my breast until the firehose became a dribble and then stopped. I apologized to my poor son several times, not knowing at the time that what had happened was not only normal but would not be the last time he would get mommy-milk in the eyeball. But that first time... that awful, horrifying moment when I wondered if my breasts were broken and if my son would be able to drink breastmilk without choking to death or drowning again was one I will never, ever forget.
Over the last few weeks, what was once "udderly" horrifying has now become a joke between Will and I. If he sleeps too long between his feedings and I don't get a chance to pump, when the firehose kicks in he just backs off, looks up at me with those steely blue-grey eyes, and patiently waits for the burp cloth to come to the rescue. His expression seems to say to me "Geez, Mommy, control that thing will ya?" and the only response I have is a quick apology in a silly cooing voice so that he doesn't become startled while I hurry to stop him from getting his dinner all over his face. These moments are now ones that will be filed away in my memory bank without horror, but rather with an amusement that I can pass on to Will's wife when they have their first child.
I figure I wish someone had warned me about it... I may as well have the courtesy to pass on what I wished I had known to the next. No need to have a slew of new mommies out there thinking they are going to drown their children in the one thing that should be bringing a beautiful, nutritious, bonding experience to their parent-child relationship.