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Mar 13 2013

Welcome to My Nursing Brain

By at 3:08 pm

woman at grocery storeI look into my 6-month-old baby’s gray-blue eyes as I nurse him. He grabs my breast with both hands and nuzzles his face into it before taking a deep, long drink.

Smiling, first with his eyes, and then his mouth, his lids flutter, his body relaxes, milk drunk in the moment. He plays with my fingers and tries to stick his hand in my mouth, waiting for me to playfully gobble up his chubby baby fingers. He loves me. I love him. He needs me, and I in turn find that I need him. I relax and breath deeply, trying to commit this time to my ever lasting memory. Just me and my nursling, giving and receiving life, communicating without a single word. I am in mothering bliss.

It would be nothing short of a charmed existence if I could say that every nursing session was like this for me. Of course I do love nursing that little boy, but the fact is that my little nursling loves me so very much that he likes to wake me 4-10 times a night just to remind me. When first light peeks through the windows in the morning my first thought is, “NO, not again!!! It cannot possibly be morning yet!”

Often I wake up from a scream–my own–because I got peed on yet again (I dare you to find a diaper this kid cannot pee out the side of). I admit, there have even been times I am guilty of walking around my house with a boob sticking out because I forgot to tuck it back into my bra. Yes, tuck. Because after nursing four kids, I have a brand new appreciation for the words “support bra.”

And oh, the memory loss! I’m sporting a serious case of nursing brain here lately. For those of you unfamiliar with what nursing brain is, well, it’s basically pregnancy brain–that precious time in your life when you are as forgetful as an 98-year-old but with the attention span (and bladder control) of a toddler–lasting until sometime after you wean your little one (if you’re lucky).

I remember the essentials like feeding the kids and dressing myself. It’s just those pesky details I forget–like my own name. A couple of weeks ago I was in the line at the grocery store concentrating intently on trying to recall how to open the zipper on my bag. I hadn’t yet gotten to remembering what it was I was planning on retrieving from my bag in the first place (my wallet! aha!) when I was suddenly interrupted by a cashier asking me how to pronounce my last name. Not an unusual request, I began sounding it out without a thought,

“La-Fan-zee-uh.”

Then I froze because that didn’t sound quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on just why.

“Umm… I mean… uhh….”

I tried stalling so I could find the time to search the recesses of my exhausted brain for the exact pronunciation of my name. Hoping to convince her that I hadn’t previously answered this same questions moments ago I stammered, “Wha, what did you ask?” So she asked again, I stared blankly for a moment, cleared my throat, and then slowly replied, “Oh, uh La-Fee-an-zah.”

I considered getting out my drivers license and taking a peek just to double check but decided that would be even worse. Clearly she knew my secret–I had absolutely no idea what my own name was. Should I explain to her that I was up all night with the baby? I looked at her–not a day over 17. With those perky breasts and bright eyes lacking the deep bags under my own, I knew she wouldn’t get it. Perhaps I could convince her I was in witness protection? I felt tears stinging my eyeballs–not tears of shame, mind you, but tears of complete mental exhaustion–and before they could come splashing out onto my cheeks I just gave up and walked away like a moron.

Don’t you just love it when you just know you’re going to be somebody’s funny story that night over dinner? I might as well have walked into the place with my skirt tucked into my underpants.

“And so I asked this lady how to pronounce her name and she didn’t even know how!”

In my early days of motherhood, this would have hurt me deeply. I would have obsessed about what she thought of me. As a seasoned veteran I don’t have that much time to worry about what a teenager thinks of me. Besides, her time is surely a comin’, right? That’s what I told myself, anyhow, while I was trying to locate my van in the parking lot.

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