Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Lactation, Navy-style

In 2000, I gave birth to my first child at Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital in the middle of the Mojave Desert. That pretty much sets the tone, doesn’t it? Because she was my first child, I was horrified that these insane people at the hospital were going to send this child home with me when I was obviously unqualified to care for her. Maybe that’s why I didn’t notice that all of my post-delivery care was provided by men. My nurses and corpsmen were all men. Don’t misunderstand me -- they were great and I received wonderful care. But it was a bit odd, and I didn’t notice. My mother pointed it out when she visited before my discharge. It might have been odd but it wasn’t terribly surprising. After all, it was a Naval hospital.

The nurse serving as the lactation consultant was also a man, a Navy Ensign. He was very encouraging and supportive and just a bit over the top. My husband says he was way over the top. My husband left for a short time to bring a friend to see me. While he was gone, this Ensign, the male lactation consultant, came in to see me for a consult because I was having some problems. Once my husband returned, the Ensign called him out to the hall to go over all the things he’d already discussed with me and to drive home the importance of my husband being supportive of the process. While that sounds pleasant enough, this was an Ensign on a mission and he was on the warpath to ensure my husband knew he should have been there to receive the lecture, I mean consultation, with me. Maybe he was having a bad day. My husband is a 6’8” Marine. I didn’t see this “lecture” as a good idea.

Our lactation issues were just beginning. The hospital also had another person whose job title was Breast Education Specialist/ Lactation Consultant. This person was, thankfully, a woman. After being home with our baby and continuing to have difficulty, I was referred to this consultant. My mother was still there to help out so she came with me. The three of us, Mom, the baby and me, sat in this woman’s office for an hour. We discussed what I had tried and what more I could do. I nursed the baby while the consultant observed and offered suggestions. Finally, we got ready to leave. As we were going out the door, Mom asked her, “Did you nurse all of your children?”

She smiled and answered very sweetly, “Oh, I don’t have any children.”

Gee, I think I could have read the books myself. Oh, wait, I think I did.

*In case it wasn't clear, this post was a memoir post. The child I wrote about is going to be 7 in less than 2 months. I was having a rough, deployment gremlin-filled day and wanted to post something that struck me as funny.


Meredith said...

Geez... that is random. Lactation consultants are a strange bunch. I CANNOT imagine a male one. Don't think John could've handled it.

I'm all for the BF, and I went La Leche League and all that (didn't make me a great BFder). My consultant was the opposite of yours. She was one of the "never-ending-milk-suppliers". I saw her at the waterpark last week with the twins she was nursing when I had my first baby. The twins are 11 now. My first child is 9. You do the math.

TripleE said...

There is no way I could have handled a male lactation consultant! Mine was brutal! I would have been really uncomfortable with a man, I would've never let down milk.
Good luck with BF, it isn't always easy and "natural" feeling, but gets easier. Hopefully it will be for you too. Nursing right now as I type actually...

Shannon said...

So true!

I was just thinking today how funny it is that so many people giving stay-at-home moms advice have never been stay-at-home moms.

TripleE said...

I reread it and I guess I was a little sleepy last time, duh :)

ABW said...

That is hilarious!!! Thanks for making me laugh today, I needed it.