I saw my labor and delivery nurse today. The nurse who took care of me after I had Caitlin. The nurse who told me that I couldn't take my baby home if she hadn't latched on or eaten. The nurse who still haunts me today.
I'm sure she is a nice person. She seemed very sweet as she shopped in my store. She was very appreciative as I looked for her item both on line and at other stores. She complimented me on my service, and how well the store was kept. And the entire time all I could think of was ripping her face off.
It's not entirely her fault. I became a mother during a time when I was blinded by perfect stories. Stories about beautiful babies who were so perfectly precious, their mothers aglow in love and joy. I hadn't heard a single story about mothers who were disappointed or dissatisfied with motherhood and how it had turned out. I hadn't witnessed yet just how unstable your emotions can be in the days after you birth a little human into the world. So I pushed and pushed with all my might, willing myself to know that everything was going to be just fine.
My first night in the hospital as a new mother was a rough one. I could not for the life of me get my kid to latch. At the time that was the most pressing and important thing in my life. Isn't it ridiculous that "latching" was the biggest worry. Everyone said, the baby has to latch to really be successful at breastfeeding. Don't let the baby get nipple confusion. Make sure you try all the different positions with all the different pillows. Don't you dare feed that baby a bottle, she will never latch on if you do. They said, they said, they said. It never occurred to me that I had a choice to skip the breast. For the first time in my life, I was worried about what everyone else was doing. My friends that had kids were breast feeding, so why not me? Why should this be any different from the time when we got tattoos or decided on highlights? All my friends are breastfeeding so that means I should too, and I'll be awesome at it. Needless to say, I worked all night with a screaming baby, trying this position and that. I was brought a nipple shield and more pillows to pile around me. At one point a Jamaican nurse with the thickest accent yelled at me and said that I had to take control of my child as she shoved a screaming Caitlin on to my right breast. All the while I was in tears. Finally at three in the morning, I was able to swaddle her, get her to sleep and sleep myself.
Enter my nurse that I saw today. Back then she greeted me at seven the next morning with breakfast. She took my stats and the baby's stats and then proceeded to lecture me on my baby's inability to eat. She said I had two choices, one I could continue to try and get her to latch, or two I could give her a bottle. Either way there was no way I was going to take my baby home until she ate.
I couldn't take my baby home until she ate.
I wish I could go back. In some motherhood time machine and tell her to go fuck herself. I wish I would have had the confidence that I have today to know that latching is and was and will always remain the least of my worries. I wish I would have just given Caitlin a bottle, because guess what? She took one anyway. Baby girl never did "latch", and I was a slave to the pump for six months before I just couldn't take it anymore. It didn't matter what my friends were doing, or what the woman in the next bed was doing, what mattered was what I was going to do for my child. I wish I would have just done what I wanted to do and said screw you guys, I'm going home, and taking this baby with me. Because it was my choice. I'm the mother, the one with the boobs, that for whatever reason didn't want to do their job, so I get to decide how to proceed. But I'm a people pleaser by birth, a type a by nature, and always good at my job. Except this time. This time I was the rookie. This time I didn't know anything about anything, except I wanted to take my baby home.
I felt every damn emotion today when I saw that woman. That one nurse that I swore would haunt me forever. I realize now that I have given her way too much power over the years. I've laid blame on her for things I didn't want to do, for making decisions I didn't think I had a choice in. But I've always had a choice on how I want to parent. I've always had the choice on what kind of mother I want to be. Seeing her today reminded me just how far I've come since that late June day. I'm stronger now. I use my voice when it comes to the kind of mother I am, and the kind of mother I want to be. I no longer take the advice of other mothers unless I ask for it specifically. I don't read the books or the magazines anymore. I just live. I let them eat Cheetos and Dr. Pepper. I vaccinate. I let them watch movies that are PG13. I let them listen to Megan Trainor. That nurse today was a reminder of all the things I can't change about my past, but all the things I have changed for my future. It was nice to know that that scared, naive, people pleaser, who's biggest worry was something called a "latch", doesn't live here anymore. She grew up, went to mommy college, and is working on her masters. Today her biggest worry is making sure the cupcakes make it to the class party with the label peeled off the box.
As I've grown as a mother the desire to please people who aren't my children has waned. My desire to be perfect and have a perfect house with perfect kids has disappeared. It would be nice, but perfect doesn't make me happy. Messy and loud, chaos and joy, love and laughter, those things make me happy.
And none of those things require a latch.