Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book Club: A Nursing Mother's Curriculum.

When Hattie was born Thomas More and I were shocked by the sheer amount of time required to tend to her very basic needs. "How can such a small person, who is always asleep, demand so much time and energy?" we asked our exhausted, sleep-deprived selves.

Breastfeeding alone seemed to consume most of my life. After a couple of days of (obsessively) charting Hattie's feeding routine (or lack of routine) we discovered that (on average) babe ate 10-11 times a day, with each feeding taking up a good 30 minutes to an hour. Do the math. Five+ hours a day, seven days a week, equals... "That's like a full-time job!" exclaimed my male, breast-less counterpart in disbelief.

Now, things have gotten a bit easier. Harriet has developed sucking-muscles and a layer of blubber, making feedings shorter and farther apart. In addition, I have developed the (essential) skill of remaining semi-unconscious for night feedings (bliss!). So all in all, my nursing time is down to 2-3 (waking) hours a day. However, this still accounts for 15-20 hours a week.

At first the time commitment nursing requires seemed like a great burden to me. But over the months I have come to cherish the enforced periods of stillness that breastfeeding provides. When I am NOT feeding the baby I am necessarily entertaining the baby, cleaning/changing the baby, comforting the baby, trying to clean the house while carrying the baby...and so on. And when the baby sleeps I am rushing to complete essential tasks during the blessed moments of freedom (i.e. cleaning the house while NOT carrying the baby).

I am not complaining. I love this life with my child. I love the duties, tasks, and challenges. But I yearn for moments of silence. I yearn for time to stop, think--to read.

Read?? The English major/English postgrad in me perks up her ears. Suddenly, I realized the real potential of nursing. It dawned on me--how much could I read in TWENTY HOURS A WEEK??

So I propose a project for myself: to develop a breastfeeding curriculum--a balanced reading diet. As I read I will post (short short--I promise!) reflections on my most recent book.

I see that this post is getting long. (This happens to me. I mean to be concise, but--alas--I am not. Apparently I have not Hemingway's talent for brevity.)

Stay tuned for a future post in which I develop my reading list--and ask you, dear reader, to contribute ideas!


  1. I remember being jealous of you when I'd come home from work and see you reading while watching Fen :). Finding time to read does get easier, but you've got a great plan in place...I look forward to your update :).

  2. Xin: I hope I thanked you (and Fen!) for such a delightful and peaceful summer. I WAS able to do some reading, wasn't I (I remember Harry Potter was part of your collection!)?? This was only because Fen was the *best child in the WORLD*. So content and happy. And of course new ones sleep a lot. Hattie is a lovely baby, but maybe a bit more challenging at times. She doesn't like naps so much, even at the relatively young age of 4 months. That said, she is sleeping now!!

  3. A lovely post. Possession by A.S. Byatt is an amazing book. The (very good) Victorian poetry in it was written by Byatt herself, and the story is about the search for truth about a great poet's past, which includes a very romantic love story involving a female poet. Perhaps you've read it, though. Should be available on Amazon in paper.