I’m reading the Big Rumpus by Ayun Halliday again, trying to finish it this week to return through interlibrary loan. In my library we are members of a network of libraries all over the state. I can request books from any other library in the system; public, school, or university. It is such a fantastic set-up! You can probably also get any book you want by just asking your public librarian to find it for you in interlibrary loan. Use your library… it is one of the best things American!!
I am enjoying the book immensely. Her description of the adventures of breastfeeding has me laughing out loud. I nursed my first son and it was a wonderful experience for both of us. I would never share all the intimate details here or in a published book though. It makes me wonder about this author’s children and what their reaction to the book will be as they grow older. She is so frank in talking about her own body and those of her children; it is almost too much information in some spots.
It has me thinking about the other blogs I have been reading that discuss adoptive breastfeeding as well. I thought about nursing my adopted sons, and I would have loved to do it. The amount of time, energy, preparation and work involved was just too much for me to keep up with so I decided not to go through with it. I have Celiac Sprue, which comes with special dietary needs and I have a hard time getting enough to eat as it is. I am always hungry. I remember when I was nursing my first son that I required more calories than when I was pregnant, so I know I could never get enough to eat if I was nursing now. On top of working full time and coming home to do the second and third shift on my own, taking care of three kids with endless laundry; pumping and taking supplements and using that complicated Lact-Aid contraption is just too much to consider. But I would have loved to do it if it were possible. As far as the bonding aspects, I have found that there are plenty of other ways to accomplish that. We like the rocking chair, and I love singing to them. Reading books and playing peek-a-boo and singing have all been good experiences of bonding for us. There I go again, using language as a tool.
I do remember in a class I took in graduate school on play and games, that the professor shared with us a study done on how very young children form memories of individuals and develop relationships. Play and games and laughter were found to be extremely important in the formation of the infant’s understanding of individual identity, relationship and memory. In essence, if you play with an infant and make them laugh they will remember you and form a relationship with you. If you can make funny faces and silly noises you make a friend in every baby you meet. So along with food, warmth, security, comfort, presence, I think language is a primary bonding tool. Bottles work just as well as the breast, in my experience. The eye contact is key, and the holding and closeness. I also remember reading that for every 5 minutes of direct eye contact you have with an infant you take a month off of adolescent angst and rebellion. I’m putting that eye contact time in the bank for sure!
I would recommend the Big Rumpus to other parents of young children, as I am sure you will find many points of contact and connection. I would not recommend it to anyone who is missing a child or longing for an infant, as it could just be too much juice and goo for anyone not living that life at the time.