After almost a decade, this writer’s wife has finally stopped breast-feeding her sons. But no-one’s high-fiving.
Like a kid playing whack-a-mole at Time Zone, the nurse slammed Archie’s newborn mouth at your nipple several times over, and that’s when it first dawned on me that breastfeeding was not as easy as I’d imagined.
But I learned about ‘attachment’ and that it was a matter of practice and felt we’d be high-fiving our way down milky street in no time.
Only two weeks later your attachment skills were super-advanced but there I was standing beside you, watching you sleep, holding a bundle of Archie in my arms, knowing by the way he searched the air with his open mouth that he was hungry, but feeling so dead-sad in the gut that I avoided handing him over for several minutes until he wailed and woke you. I’d learned about nipple thrush and the intense pain it put you through, several times a day, with every feed. I was told by more than one expert that you wouldn’t be able to continue breastfeeding but when I suggested we try Archie on a bottle you simply said no.
You stopped eating sugar and processed foods and weeks passed and all of a sudden I was handing Archie over and you were putting him to your breast without the grimacing and tears; working on the computer or watching TV or lying beside me in bed, smiling. I learned how easy breastfeeding could be, and how wonderful.
Eighteen months flew by and Archie was reaching for the bottle instead of the boob but there was only a three-month reprieve before Lewis was born and your breasts were in constant demand again.
This time attachment was a walk in the park and the thrush had no chance with the way you watched your diet buton New Year’s Eve 2006, your breasts were sore and you started feeling ill and by New Year’s Day you were running a high temperature. I learned about mastitis and looked after you as you were shivering and aching in bed, as sick as I’d ever seen you.
The fear of mastitis stayed with us as the journey continued and I saw panic in your expression whenever there was the slightest sign of a red or swollen breast, or the hint of nausea or illness.
When you went back to work full time we were feeding Lewis like a tag-team. He’d take his fill before you left for the house and I’d deliver your milk through plastic teets while you were away and in between I’d ferry him to your various places of employment so that you could either feed him again, if he was demanding it, or so I could drive you from one place to the other while you relieved your full breasts with the electronic pump. I learned about the vantage point of truck drivers and bus passengers and how to pull up at traffic lights to avoid an accidental gaze or prying eye.
Tyson took to your arms four months after we managed to wean the breast-desperate Lewis and we were right back into the routine we’d become used to – waking to the cry of a hungry baby, breast pumping at home and at work, ferrying boys to the boob. You stayed strong despite two more bouts of the dreaded mastitis but what I remember here is how busy your life had become and – despite the rapid growth in your business and career – how our children were the most important part of your working week, how you made certain you were there to feed Tyson day and night.
Maki took his turn October 2011, nine months after Tyson, and this was right in the middle of a most stressful time. We’d knocked our house down and moved in with your Mum and Dad and the building of our house was a nightmare of red tape and delays and I think, on occasion, I went bat-shit crazy and was also drawing on your reserves for support. Somehow you managed me on top of everything else.