Friday, November 07, 2008

You know who I never thought I'd have a conversation about breastfeeding with? Brian's grandpa. Perhaps that is silly of me. I mean, yes, he's an 81-year-old man, but he is also the father of six, grandfather of ten, and great-grandfather of one.

Last month, Grandpa Glenn spent the night with us before heading back to Colorado. I had been a bit self-conscious nursing in front of him that afternoon, just as I had when we visited him back in June, but as we poured the last of the wine into our glasses after dinner and watched Adriana play, he turned to me and said that his wife had always found that a glass of wine in the evening had helped with her milk supply. A little surprised by the comment, I told him that I found the same was true, although only with red wine.

And then he told me that only one of their six children had not be breastfed. She had a milk allergy and had to have soy formula. Another one of their babies had thrush early on, and while the baby was being treated, Brians' grandmother was expressing milk to maintain her supply for when the baby was better. It seemed wasteful to throw the milk away (I am still unsure whether the baby was drinking some of the pumped milk or was receiving some sort of formula at that point for some reason), so one morning the whole family had breastmilk on their cereal. Grandpa made a face as he remembered. "That was the sweetest, richest milk ever. No wonder babies love it."

The conversation made me realize how things have changed since the 1950s. Now many mothers of babies with milk allergies cut out dairy products themselves in order to continue nursing. And Adriana and I nursed throughout our experience with thrush. Perhaps it would have cleared up sooner if we hadn't, but pumping seems like a lot of work and I was terrified of nipple confusion. But it also told me how much things stay the same. Brian's grandma nursed her babies, his mom and mine nursed theirs, and here I am nursing mine.

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