tap, tap, tap
Is this…is this thing on? I’m sorry, I’m a little nervous.
whistling feedback from microphone
My name is Mommy.
I have three children, all of whom are breastfed.
Have been breastfed.
That is, two were breastfed until they were old enough to drive. One is currently being breastfed. I mean that literally. He is currently attached to my bosom via his precious mandible. See? And in a few minutes, he’ll be on my other bosom. And so on and so on and so on. It’s wonderful.
Really, I just can’t tell you what it means to me to have so many watercolor-hued, soft-focus moments throughout my day.
Because, as you know, beyond breastmilk being the perfect food for our babies, it’s the bonding that’s important.
Whew boy, am I bonding.
Bond, bond, bond.
Can’t get enough of that bonding.
I love it.
This week sucks.
And I’m not just being literal.
This week, breastfeeding sucks hard.
Yeah, yeah, I know…perfect food, so much easier than fumbling with bottles in the middle of the night, a little gold star on the Harvard entrance application, all that special one-of-a-kind bonding time. Of course, my husband seems pretty bonded to our girls and all he had to do was change a few diapers and then run around in the backyard kicking soccer balls with them. Oh, and occasionally he swings them upside-down by their feet.
Alright, maybe he did a bit more in the way of bonding.
But his nipples are intact.
Not that I resent breastfeeding’s more challenging moments, heavens no! I mean, what was I using my nipples for, anyway? Nothing, that’s what! Nope, they were just hanging out there on my chest, an essentially useless body part, free ride all the way. Complete slackers. And let’s face it, every once in a while they were even downright embarrassing to be around, getting all cold and breaking-up the clean lines of my Calvin Klein knock-off dress. Sheesh. Pain in the ass, really. As far as I’m concerned, they had it coming to them. Party’s over, girls. You want to be seen? How’s about I stick you with a screaming infant capable of suction pressure of around 450 pounds per square inch and now see how you like standing out in a crowd, you shameless little hussies. Cracked and bleeding? Can’t take the friction? Don’t worry girls. Here. Let me slather you in sheep oil then cover you with cold cabbage leaves. Feeling sexy now, you obnoxious tarts? Wanna complain some more about how that padded bra sometimes itched a little around your delicate edges?! Huh?!
Yeah, I thought so.
Where was I?
Yeah, I’ve been through the challenges of low supply, high supply, and a pins-and-needles let-down that was so forceful it could knock an eye out; I’ve had cracks and bleeds and latch-on pain so exquisite that my toes became permanently curled and I can now quite comfortably wear those lotus shoes so popular with footbinders everywhere; I’ve suffered thrush and plugged ducts and engorgement the likes of which hasn’t been seen this side of a Howard Stern interview.
This week, it’s the 6-week growth spurt. This weeks it’s “building up supply” time. This week, I have the Adorable Siphon suctioning about once an hour, on the hour, for about an hour. If you do the math, that clocks in at around, oh, let’s see…dit, dit, dit…carry the five, divide by twelve, drop the…the pencil…I dropped my pencil. Aw heck, I’ll just round off the numbers for you:
I’ve been breastfeeding nonstop since last Thursday.
I’m starting to get a crick in my neck.
Anyway, I know what you’re thinking. I do. You’re thinking “Well done, you! Bravo! God gave you breasts to feed your baby, not to fancy-up your décolleté! (As if.) Breast is best! Babies were born to be breastfed! The price for healthy children must be paid in hard work and sorrow and blood! The price is not too high. If you doubt it, ask those millions who live today under the tyranny of Hitlerism…
I mean, bottle feeding!”
At least, that’s what FDR once said about…about breastfeeding..
And that’s all well and good. Hooray! Hooray for breastfeeding! Woo! Hoo!
Breastfeeding is wonderful and all women should be educated and supported in breastfeeding their children. Am I right? Can I get an Amen?
But frankly, I gotta tell ya…this week I’m at the end of my rope.
Dangling, I am.
When I had one kid, I took the advice of “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “just stay in bed for a few days and nurse through the growth spurts”. It still wasn't easy but a bit more do-able, if barely. Even after my second baby, Seconda, I could occasionally find the time and energy to marathon-nurse her while my older daughter, Prima, was taking naps or contentedly locking herself in the cat kennel for most of the day with a bowl of Meow Mix. This time around, I have two children complaining “Mommy, you have to take me to soccer practice!” or “Mommy, please wash my clothes, I don’t want to dress-up in Dipsy again! The kids in school are mean to Teletubbies!” or “Mommy, please go to the grocery store. This cereal you gave us tastes like mixed seafood grill!”
Cat food is mostly cereal filler. And just think of all those healthy Omega-3s. Yum. Yum.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking….
Sure, breastmilk is super healthy for wee snappers. And, of course, the more children who experience bonding and attachment through breastfeeding, the more blissfully self-assured, secure and convivial the general populace, which can only ultimately result in the end of petty ego-driven altercations, an end to all hatred, the complete cessation of war in the Middle East, and finally the promise of peace on earth fulfilled beneath the dawn of a golden D-cup sun.
But I gotta be honest and say that after five days of not having time to shower, and living with three children who also smell like week-old oysters and whose only remaining clean clothing are a few old Halloween costumes, well, peace on earth and goodwill toward men isn’t much of a carrot on a stick. Not even if Bono is holding the stick and promising to write a ballad about the ability of my cleavage to end third world debt. As far as I’m concerned, wars may rage on, empires clash, and rush hour drivers continue to give each other the finger, yet the power of my boobs to end all this suffering is of little consequence to me if I’m still wearing the same milk-soaked T-shirt as last Monday and there’s not a clean dish in the house.
My apologies to the UN.
And to my fellow breastfeeding advocates everywhere.
And now, I suppose, it’s time for my complete confession:
Sigh. This is very difficult for me to say, but…but I know that I am among friends. I know that we are all mothers here, sisters in understanding, supporting each other through our parenting challenges and joining hands in empathy and unity so that we can finally withstand, together - once and for all - society’s underlying and overbearing patriarchal oppression that ultimately fuels our woman-against-woman, sister-versus-sister, mother-mama-mommy wars.
I feel that I can trust you.
I know that I can trust you.
And so, I’ll open up here. Bare all. Speak my truth, no matter how difficult it is to say or hear, yet confident that my sisters won't roast me with the fire of ten-thousand money-saving checks for Good Start® formula.
My babies have received nourishment from the cold comfort of a bottle while nestled in the make-due arms of some guy called “the other parent”.
There. I said it.
That wasn't so bad. How about...
I hate pumping the way I hate stirrup pants: painful, unnatural and, I believe, offensive in the eyes of God…dess. Goddess.
Yes, and I have broken down - yes, broken down, I say! - in the eleventh hour of a marathon nursing session, my tender pink nubbins screaming for mercy and willingly giving up the names of Al Qaeda operatives, the location of Jimmy Hoffa’s burial site, and the whereabouts of Frodo and The One Ring, all in exchange for the succulent relief delivered by four ounces of chalky, less-than-optimal, unnatural and highly toxic infant formula! In a bottle! And not one with an Avent nipple! Amen!
Amen! Amen! Amen!
Wow, that felt…good! What a relief to finally say it all. Just say it out loud and know that I’ll still be one of the gals. One of the gang! Welcomed at the end of the meeting to join in the big, squishy, love-on group hug!
Ok…well, uhm, of course I also promise to do penance and don my hairshirt (the one with side vents for nursing) and read the last five issues of Mothering magazine. In the meantime, I'd like to Ouch!
Hey…hey…did someone just throw…a tube of Lansinoh at me?
I was saying that in the meantime YOW! That cabbage really hurt!
C’mon, guys…gals…I thought that we were all having a Kumbaya moment here. You know, I’m not just a complainer. I’m not just a weak-minded and weak-bodied excuse for a martyr…I mean, mother. See…see I’ve come here today with…with ideas for improvement! For change! I’m proactive! I mean…prolactive.
HEY! WHO THREW THAT BOOK AT ME! SERIOUSLY, that COULD have TAKEN my EYE OUT! That was NOT NICE!
DR. SEARS, WAS THAT YOU?!!!
Oh look, it's "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”. Well now, I did lose my copy…
Hey! HEY! Give me…uurrgh…give me the mic back! I’m not done! I have…I have this idea…Youch!…idea for something called La Laundry League…you know…a group of women…a tribe…acccckkk give me mic!…to actually help out women in their homes so they can…arrhh…sleep when the…Let go! OW! YOU’RE STEPPING ON MY HAIR!
...groups of…women to get together and help…ungh, argh…physically help each other…
…during the…the…Hey!…in the home…
…during first eight weeks…c’mon now…three months…Careful! The baby is still latched on! Get…mmmph…rrrrrrkkk…
…really put our money where…where our…ungh…ooffff…help each oth…
sound of body being dragged across floor
…in the home…ggrrn…elp!
offstage sounds of woman being beaten with a Similac single serve packet
Hey! Ouch! Stop that! I just...OW...I have ideas...argh!...
Fire exit door opens
“We shall overcome….We shall overcome some day!
Oh, deep in my heart I do believe…we shall..."