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As I was browsing the web when writing my post on the 10 things people don’t tell you about breastfeeding, it seemed that the recurring theme was pain, i.e. crapped nipples, swollen breasts, sucking pain, etc. It sure takes practice to achieve a good latch, but now that I’ve breastfed my two kids and I’ve got a broader perspective, I have to say that breastfeeding was only the beginning of my daily dose of physical pain.
You’d think that after childbirth (whether natural or by c-section) and the learning curve of breastfeeding, the pain that your kids inflict on you would be gone. Boy, aren’t you up for a surprise! I feel compelled to warn all first-time parents that your baby’s size doesn’t correlate with the amount of pain that they can inflict on your body.
Now, you’re probably thinking I’m making this up. I hope many other parents out there will support me in commenting how they too are getting hurt every day, otherwise I probably need to call Social Services and have them take my kids away for domestic violence!
It seems that a baby possesses several weapons of choice when wanting to cause pain during his first year, usually unintentionally:
1) His nails
Sharper than a kitten’s claws, a baby’s nails are meant to test your motherly love when he scratches your boobs while nursing. Unfortunately the baby also has a tendency to scratch his own face, especially if he’s a thumb sucker. At least, a baby will let you clip his nails in his sleep, so you can keep that weapon under control!
2) His legs
A six-month-old baby with toned and firm legs can do a lot of damage to his dad’s groin, or his mom’s belly while nursing. I now think the baby jumperoo I bought to get my babies some exercising fun was a bad idea…
3) His teeth
When a baby grows brand new incisives, he likes to test their shredding purpose on everything. That includes teething toys, blankets, but also your nose, ears, fingers, nipples, skin, you name it. Of course, the more you react as you experience the sharp pain, the more he’ll feel encouraged to try it again! I actually stopped breastfeeding my youngest at nine months for that reason, and ended up pumping for another four months afterwards to continue supplying my “liquid gold”. I liked the bonding of nursing but didn’t want to take the chance of becoming nipple-less!
4) His hands
When a baby starts controlling the use of his hands, he’ll practice in many more ways than grabbing a toy or shaking a rattle. Hand activities include pinching skin, pulling hair, pulling the cat’s tail, even breaking eyeglasses (a favorite at our house). Keep an eye on those hands at all times when staying close to your baby, I’ve warned you!
4) Most dangerous weapon of all: his head
Oh, that big, rock-solid head… I understand its purpose is to protect my little bundle of joy from impact and trauma, but gee, why does it have to cause so much pain on the parents (and siblings)? In the first few months of life, we play our part by supporting our baby’s bobble head. As the neck muscles become stronger, we decide to let go and that’s when all hell comes loose! It seems highly entertaining for a baby to consistently bonk his head against your body (preferably your face) when sitting on your lap, being held in your arms, or in any position for high impact. I can’t remember how many times I’ve been hit hard enough in the nose to hear a crack and expect a nose bleed and a trip to the ER. So far, so good, but my nose just hurts thinking about it…
With that said, you’d think that a growing child will learn that his body can inflict pain and will stop doing so. From the many “incident” reports that occur at my son’s preschool, I don’t believe that’s the case.
To this day, my kids’ favorite activities seem to be:
– Stepping on my feet: they sure scream when I step on theirs, so why do they get so exasperated when I request them to get off mine! A variance is to drop heavy objects on my feet. My youngest punctured a hole in my toe nail with the only sharp angle of his “My First Story Reader” book. My toe hurt for over a month, and I ended up throwing the toy in the trash, worried that I may get injured again.
– Jumping on my body from higher ground: where did they get the idea that my belly is a trampoline they can jump on every time I lay on the floor or on the bed?
– Biting: OK, I think we’ve finally got that one under control, but for a while, it was a daily habit at our house.
– Groin punching, squeezing: looking at their dad’s face, it appears pretty painful every time…
– Hitting my face with their head, and then having the audacity to complain that THEIR head hurts! Yep, that most dangerous weapon doesn’t seem to go away…
Physical injuries can be painful on your wallet too. A few months ago, my two boys were jumping around on our bed when my youngest hit his front tooth on top of his brother’s head. It bled at the time and we knew there was nothing else we could do. The tooth eventually turned grey and formed a gum abscess as it was dying. After root canal with general anesthesia, a new crown and $800 in dental bills, that tooth looks great!
So yes, love hurts in many ways, as the journey of parenthood causes plenty of physical pain, as well as medical and/or dental bills. But if I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t miss it for a thing, because at the end of the day, nothing is sweeter to my ears than to hear my son say “I love you, I want a hug”. And yes, I like my ribs squeezed hard.
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