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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

340

On Being Unexpectedly Crummy at Breastfeeding

You really did not think this was going to happen, partly because you spent nine months being practically Gisele about EVERYONE SHOULD DO IT and WOMEN WHO SAY THEY CAN'T ARE LIARS BECAUSE EVOLUTION (not out loud, or anything, because you're likable), but quietly and fatuously in your head. And you read The Politics of Breastfeeding and attended the LLL meetings and waltzed around feeling completely confident that you would produce such an excess of precious perfect nutrition from your body that you could probably add it to kale smoothies and donate it to nice gay male adoptive parents.

Natural childbirth, of course, you assumed you would crash and burn at, which is why you said not a single solitary word about it to anyone (except Edith, obviously), but any time someone asked you if you were going to breastfeed, you were all as a mammal, it seems likely.

But natural childbirth worked! And it took a couple of days for your milk to come in, which is completely normal. Expected! You expected it. And in the interim she lost about 13% of her birth weight, which is...more than normal, but not completely disastrous. And she was a little baby to begin with, so she started to look like a plucked chicken, but no big deal. But your milk came in, and you fed every hour or so, because that's what you do, and you had to wake her UP to feed, because snoozy, but she always had a great latch, and looked satisfied and drunk when she fell off, so you assumed you were in business.

And then you brought her back in, and she had lost another ounce. So, obviously, you had a crazy weeping fit in your pediatrician's office, and BEGGED for more time when she extremely hesitantly suggested you might need to start supplementing. Lactation consultant! Pump! Fenugreek! Blessed thistle! Nursing vacations! (You get in bed, naked, with your naked baby, load up the entire run of The Wire, have people bring you water and food, do nothing but nurse for 48 hours.)

She wouldn't gain. It wasn't great.

So you started supplementing. And the rotten thing about supplementing is how hard it is to stop. Your baby gains weight. No matter how wigged out you were about YOUR weight at fourteen, it's got nothing on how you trace every inch of your underweight baby's arms with your eyes to see if they're filling out. It's all you think about. You start to dream about it. So when your baby actually gains weight, it's like crystal meth. You want more.

No one really knows how to supplement. Do you nurse, then top her up each time? Or do you nurse twelve times a day, and give one bottle? The math screws you either way. Every ounce of formula she eats is an ounce you won't make the next day. You're embarrassed. You're a failure. You would have a DEAD CAVEMAN BABY. Your baby will be dumb. Your baby will have asthma.

Eventually, your baby is almost four months old. You nurse her every time she wakes up, and before every feed. She likes it okay, it's pleasant. Maybe she gets a couple of ounces a day? Five, maybe. Not from your right breast, she hates that one. You don't want to buy formula in public, so you use Amazon. Amazon does not judge you. No one else judges you, to be honest, except for the horrible awful bitches on this thread from Mothering, which haunts your dreams.

And you could have tried harder. There were nights you let her sleep three hours in a row so that YOU could. There's a weird off-label non-FDA approved drug that increases your milk production with few side effects. There's an FDA-approved one that turns you into a firemonster. Instead of a bottle, you could have supplemented with the leaky tube that you tape to your nipple. EVEN NOW you might be able to ooze her off, an ounce at a time. You're probably a bad person.

Next time you'll do better.

(Photo: Artificially-fed baby watches Kill Bill, is artificially fed.)



340 Comments / Post A Comment

melis

DUDE

your baby is so cute I could literally feel my brain melt; I am appreciably less smart because I looked at how cute she was

your baby is stealing my brain

The Lady of Shalott

@melis I COULD JUST NIBBLE HER LITTLE CHEEKS AND HER LITTLE FISTS AND HER LITTLE HEAD AND look at her darling little eyebrows!!!!

Daisy Razor

@melis That's exactly how it works, actually. For every baby you meet, you get a little bit dumber. Which is why my grandfather, who had 11 children and upwards of 50 grandchildren, called us all by the same name.

oh, disaster

@Daisy Razor Explains so much about my family.

bouncy castle

@melis The first totally free-associated word that came into my head when I saw that photo up there was "SICK" as in "that baby is SICK cute"

laurel

@The Lady of Shalott It was the eyebrows that killed me. So expressive!

Oh, squiggles

Nicole...you are an excellent mom. Seriously, wonderful. And that is the bottom line.

miriam g-c@twitter

So do not worry about this. I was all about doing everything naturally and it all went to shit. My son is healthy and happy and bright as your baby will be with the care you take of her. I tell all my pregnant friends this, because nobody told me. Even all of you non-pregnant ladies, know that your boobs might not work the way you expected, and it does not make you any less of a caring parent.

paddlepickle

See, I'm always hearing ladies be like "I thought breastfeeding was gonna be easy!" and I'm like "wha? of course it's really really hard".

And then I remember that I only know this because my mother was a La Leche League leader when I was a kid, which meant our home phone was the 'breastfeeding issues hotline' as well as our home phone, which meant from a very young age I would pick up the phone to some lady going "AHH SHE WON'T LATCH AND IT HURTS TELL ME WHAT TO DO" and I'd be like "what? I'm 8".

So, yeah, for those of you who didn't have that experience: Breastfeeding is hard.

elizabeast

@paddlepickle My mom had my only sibling when I was 12, so I was a fully aware person for all of the horror that was (at the time?) childbirth and infancy. And my mom, no matter how hard she tried, could not breast feed. I remember her literally throwing chairs at an appointment with a lactation consultant. She cried. She insisted she was a terrible mother. It was terrifying and sad, but luckily formula exists and my sister did not starve and everything worked out okay.

After that experience, I was shocked to see bloggers I follow (the only moms I know are bloggers) talking about blissfully breastfeeding while cute baby animals sang to them and their "hubby" stood by telling them how proud he was. I felt like this must be a lie, but I didn't really know how to confirm it? So now every so often I see a post like this and I think "HA! THE JIG IS UP YOU LIARS!"

likethestore

@paddlepickle My mom was a LLL leader too! I still remember the meetings held at our house very fondly.

EpWs

@elizabeast The word "hubby" makes me a little pukey. That is all.

Frankie's Girl

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher

Awww... shucks. I use "hubby" all the time, and never thought it was that bad... I also use "hubband" for some strange reason. I also call shoes "shoobees" and my cat has a ton of sickening nicknames involving "kitten pants."

I think I need help.

Oh, and the baby? Too cute!! Just oodles of cuteness there.

And the mommy brigade needs to chill the fuck out on judging other mothers. if it's not harmful to a child's health or well being (and formula is FINE!) then it's none of anyone's business.

theepiccek

@paddlepickle yes! this is me too, except my mum is a nurse-midwife/lactation consultant, so there was like 12 year old me listening to her explain to new mum's that "dude, it's okay." (that is not a direct quote)

Don'tcallmeJenny

@theepickek
It is NOT actually untrue. Every woman has a different experience. I didn't even find out I was pregnant until very late in the game (still got my period, actually lost weight, long story) and I had pretty much no consultation for breastfeeding. When they threw my newborn on my chest she just went to town and didn't stop for two years. She actually refused to drink from a bottle too. Every person is different and from what I understand from my mommy friends with more than one kid different babies will respond differently too.

EpWs

@Frankie's Girl No offense meant, promise! It works great for other people, but since my and my boyfriend's affectionate nicknames for each other include "butthead" it just weirds me out when I think about using it in our context. :P

Also CAT PANTS ARE TOTALLY A THING and kitten pants sound adorable.

Jolie Kerr

I'm not judging you either, Nicole! Me and amazon, this is us, not judging!! Also your baby is so cute it shouldn't be allowed. ILLEGAL CUTENESS. That's what I'll write her up for.

<3 u Nicole-ie

melis

@Jolie Kerr She looks super clean, too, right? Such a clean baby.

Yatima

@Jolie Kerr @ melis Clean as. I bet she smells like candy in heaven.

Bittersweet

@Yatima: New baby smell (especially the head) is even better than candy in heaven. When my daughter lost it, I wanted to cry. Now I depend on friends with babies to get my fix.

Ugh, this sounds a lot creepier than it really is. Cute! Clean! Eyebrows!

DoilyMadison

Breastfeeding is so hard, and so linked to self-worth, and also so hard and painful at the beginning and then your mother-in-law says things like, "My babies slept through the night because they got enough food," and then the entire internet of moms is lactating while doing yoga and growing kale.

Tragically Ludicrous

@DoilyMadison Odd and off-topic, but every time I try to explain what kale means in the American context my Dutch friends think I'm insane. (Kale is basically iceberg lettuce here, culturally..)

RK Fire

@DoilyMadison: and then they decorate their homes tastefully between feedings following the styling and recommendations of Apartment Therapy, amirite?

Hepzibah

@DoilyMadison "and then the entire internet of moms is lactating while doing yoga and growing kale."

The internet! Where people never lie about how awesome they are.

brad

@DoilyMadison - the breastfeeding leagues can be a little hardcore. my wife had already decided to do it but they were there to remind her that it was really the only thing to do if you really loved your child. otherwise, baby would gorw up with acne, thin blood and perpetual disease. there were a couple of new moms in our extended new parent group that were having a really hard time with it and my god, the pressure these lactation mad fiends put on these women was pretty horrible.

DoilyMadison

@brad Anyone who responds to "I breastfed for 3 weeks/5 months/2 years/until she went to college" with anything but "good for you!" is a jagoff.

brad

@DoilyMadison - yes. we had our two daughters 22 months apart. watching wife do the double football hold where each kid is latched and under the cooresponding arm...well holy shit. it was impressive especially when she was working on 3 hours of sleep. but to see the looks on the faces of the women who were trying and couldn't make it happen...heartbreaking. we knew this gal who just never stopped talking about it before her baby was born. a little over the top and a little judgey. and then wee one just wouldn't latch. i felt horrible for her. she had invested so much energy into the notion of perfect child rearing that this development seemed to really crush her. the only thing i've learned about parenting- keep light on your feet. it'll be ok.

NellieBly

@DoilyMadison You said "jagoff"! A fellow western-PA Lady?

Craftastrophies

@brad I had a friend like that. It was only hard for everyone else because they weren't doing it right/didn't have enough moral fibre, to hear her tell it. She's had some very rude shocks along the line.

The judging makes me so angry. Surely it is more important that the parents are not stressed out and going insane? Breastfeeding seems pretty great, but not more great than being able to look at your baby without crying.

heyladies

Do not read those message boards. Your baby is getting fed, she's getting plumper (yay!) and everyone involved--including, importantly, you--sound better for it. Congrats on your healthy baby and being an awesome non-extremist mom.

Bittersweet

@heyladies: I made the mistake of reading them. Argh. Why is the lady who pumped a bunch of blood getting huge fist bumps? Isn't it just as important for your baby for you to take care of yourself and your own health?

Megoon

@Bittersweet Yeah I read that part too and it was terrifying. The whole thread kind of makes me just not want to have children.

LaLoba

@Bittersweet Quote: "My moderately compromised mental health is less important than my baby's moderately compromised physical health."

So, no. No it is not important, apparently. I agree @Megoon, the idea of mine-own-babies is a already a pretty hard sell for me, and the combination of words like "cracked nipples" and "bloody" along side an advancing cavalry of the shame patrol - newborns and 8 year-olds dangling from each breast - in every park, library and wood-floored studio actually makes MY nipples invert and recede coldly back into my body.

shantasybaby

@heyladies I had to stop reading at the pumping blood part because I thought I was going to pass out! I mean, to each their own, but I don't think that needs to be celebrated. Breast feeding is a good idea until it isn't- I was bottle fed and I'm awesome! ALOT of my friends were bottlefed, that was the local early 80's trend. And we all survived and thrived! Just like agressive breastfeeding like this is the trend now, maybe it will balance out at some point. Again, PUMPING BLOOD OUT OF YOUR BOOB. No. Just no.

sox
sox

Clearly what's important here is that the little monker's getting her fill of Kill Bill, early and often.

madge

@sox "your name is buck, right?!?"

melis

Wiggle your big toe.

iceberg

Oh honey. I know exactly this feeling. You did the best you could, please don't feel bad!

(ETA - I did it for six weeks and then DRIED UP, and my boobs are FUCKED anyway)

atipofthehat

Same thing happened to us!

It all worked out. Also, THIS formula!

In a desperate situation when I had to get a commercial soy formula, I screamed when I read the ingredients (why, the stuff is corn syrup!). I researched, found the above, and in the end the pediatrician recommended same.

Bro-lo El Cunado

Aaaaah, La Leche League and their ilk make me kind of angry because a small group of them roped my mom into a couple of their meetings when she was pregnant with me and then went out of their way to make her feel like shit when she was like, "I'll try, but ... I'm also going right back to work (because I have to). So probably not."

Emi at Project Swatch

This post is amazing.

ru_ri

Whatever you're feeding that kid is making it SO ADORABLE I ALMOST WANT ONE. Clearly, you have stumbled on the best possible feeding method.

The Lady of Shalott

I'm pretty sure Mothering.com is some kind of portal to hell or something.

My landlady is kind of a weird whackjob about a lot of baby-related stuff (and believes her son was potty-trained at six months), and I am 150% sure that all kinds of people like her out there running around making life miserable for moms. Be strong! Hang in there!

(Among her other nutty beliefs: "therapy is useless" coming from a Ph.D psychology student, her son's daycare is best because it's run by the education students at the uni and not the "old hags" who run most daycares, and TAs like myself should never teach classes or tutorials because it's unfair to paying students.)

lobsterhug

@The Lady of Shalott If The Knot is any indication, I'm sure The Bump is another portal.

I may or may not have spent a year or two lurking on the Boston.com Moms discussion boards and getting really invested in all those ladies as they TTC and get pregnant and try to figure out parenthood.

D.@twitter

@The Lady of Shalott I briefly read the comments. It quickly devolved into, "Sure, you SAY you're trying to breastfeed, but you're probably not trying hard enough, and now you've failed your child." JESUS.

Lily Rowan

@The Lady of Shalott Mothering.com is definitely the worst. I had a weird obsession with it a while back (weird given that I have zero children) because I could not believe those people were real.

every tomorrow@twitter

@The Lady of Shalott I swear it's an extension of the victim-blaming "Well *I* do everything right so that would never happen to *me*" self-soothing via blaming others bullshit fest. These people breastfeed their children exclusively, therefore they are good moms and their children will be healthy, intelligent, and free of asthma and allergies. And anyone whose child is unhealthy or has problems, well, they did it WRONG.

It is a desperate attempt to enforce predictability and reason on the vast, uncaring, random universe by people who just cannot accept that even if they do everything "right" they or their loved one could get hit by a truck and die tomorrow.

Solipsister2

@Lily Rowan @The Lady of Shalott That is because they are Fascists and probably Male Supremicists whose sole purpose is to shame women into believing that cultural deterioration is caused by people who were not breastfed by their mothers.

Daisy Razor

Even when everything goes perfectly, it is so, so hard physically, emotionally, everything-ly. I remember handing my 4-month-old to my spouse and saying, "I can't touch her anymore." I wish every mother who just wants to love and feed her child could get all the support in the world, no matter where the damn food comes from.

LilyMarlene

@Daisy Razor People who don't support new or expecting moms (meaning, actively tear them down on message boards, snark at and judge them in public, etc.) should be forcefully punched in the junk. I can't imagine anything more terrifying/exhausting than being responsible for a tiny, helpless little human's overall well being, only to have the whole world scream "UR DOIN IT RONG". That would just be too much.

I just spent a holiday in the company of about ten people, one of them A Pregnant Lady. Even among friends, The Lady was constantly asked "Should you be eating that/sitting that way/going swimming/lying in the sun/having a single, tiny sip of your husband's beer at midnight on New Year's Eve?" So, world - put your g.d. gavels down and let moms be (unless they are actively hurting their child), just because they're doing something you don't 'think' you would do.

And Nicole; judging by the Facebook postings of all my new mom friends basically saying "Halp mah bebeh isn't latching/my milk, where iz it/OW IT HURTS AAAAAH GOD HELP ME PLEASE", you're in good company. So giant hugs, and to quote a mom friends of mine - "If you're worried about your child's well-being, you're doing it right."

Daisy Razor

@LilyMarlene For me personally, the judgement from all sides completely messed with my head for awhile, but then I got to a point where I was like, "Eh, fuck you all." I feel this attitude will come in handy when Baby Razor hits her teens.

ormaisonogrande

@LilyMarlene on the Facebook posting thing -- I have four friends that have babies in the last few years. Two of them had serious issues breastfeeding. One just gave up because she and her baby already had enough problems from a completely unrelated medical issue, the other rented some sort of crazyass giant machine for a few months and then quit around the three-month mark. All five kids (two are twins) are doing completely fine, they all seem to get the same number of colds/flus, and plus they got to spend the first months of their lives with moms who were less stressed.

LagunaBitch

@Lily Marlene OMG THIS TIMES A BILLION. I'm pregnant and if ONE more person stares at me all judgy for drinking a half calf SMALL frappucino, I'm gonna cut someone.

gfrancie

@Daisy Razor That is the best mantra to have. Because no matter what, someone has a problem.

Craftastrophies

@LilyMarlene I get so ridiculously angry for and protective of my pregnant friends. Like yes, she CAN do those things, and all of you can fuck right off. She knows the deal, she can make choices about her body, you are allowed to think that they are wrong choices, but shut up about it, please. I can't stand the way they become public property and everyone thinks they have a right to a part of their uterus. It is legitimately one of the reasons I never plan on having kids (not the biggest reason, but one of the most visceral). And it never stops, ever. Your parenting will be judged and commented on forever.

The trouble is, some people will say 'but they ARE hurting their baby!' No. One sip of beer/whatever other thing with a tiny risk is not the same as beating a child, or any other sort of abuse.

paperbuttons

@LagunaBitch Next time someone says something judgy to you at Starbucks you look them dead in the eye and say "I'm not pregnant." They will feel soooo embarrassed and you can stomp off in a huff. I totally plan to do this.
I mean, telling them how effed they are to judge a totally safe activity would work too I guess, but just, you know, if you are short on time.

paperbuttons

@LagunaBitch Next time someone says something judgy to you at Starbucks you look them dead in the eye and say "I'm not pregnant." They will feel soooo embarrassed and you can stomp off in a huff. I totally plan to do this.
I mean, telling them how effed they are to judge a totally safe activity would work too I guess, but just, you know, if you are short on time.

Party Falcon

At some point in your life, your body will make you a failure. Just because it's a jerk like that. (This will likely happen more than once, sorry.) And then assholes will make you feel even worse, even though shit is totally out of your control.

At least along with this "failure", your body decided to make you the world's most adorable and squee-worthy consolation prize of a chicklet!

FullTimeFancy

@Party Falcon Yep. Just cuz you have the pieces doesn't mean they work. And if they don't work (or you lost some pieces along the way), it does not reflect on your worth as a person, even though everyone else wants you to believe that it does because theirs do work, so they did something better than you. Let's face it, not so long ago all these babies would be dying if there were no wet nurse available. So pretty much anything that doesn't involve babies starving to death is a win to me!
Also, this is an insanely adorable baby and I want to squeeze her.

Craftastrophies

@Party Falcon I might need that whole first paragraph stitched onto a cushion. You are bringing it with the mottoes/mantras today.

Party Falcon

@Craftastrophies Pregnancy, motherhood, humanhood, our bodies will always disappoint us, no matter how we care for them, no matter what we need from them. If not today, one day. And all we can do is accept and move on. Fuckers.

(Further mangling your ideal of the Party Falcon. Party Falcon has lupus and she knows from body betrayal.)

PistolPackinMama

@Party Falcon @all Well... your body failing you really is the ultimate explanation for what happens in the end, to us all.

So.

Also, chronic illness can go jump in a lake. Said she with a chronic illness.

EpWs

Nicole. That baby. I can't even.

bitzy

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Unbelievably cute. Anyone else have this open in 2 tabs so they can switch back to BABY! without losing their place?

No? Just me then.

theotherginger

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher ooh... good call!

Marsh Marigold

I'm leaving lurkdom to comment on this. There is no shame in not breastfeeding... I feel like we've been fed (ha!) a line on this one. Yes, if you can, you should probably give it a whirl and see if you like it, but your mental health is much more important to your baby's well being than the understudied benefits that breastfeeding supposedly heaps upon your kid. I really think that some of this intensely pro-breastfeeding info we get is actually an anti-feminist attempt to keep us chained to our babies...Seriously, I have a two year old and I'm confident that I've messed her up in dozens more serious ways than giving up on the breastfeeding at the 4 month mark.

bocadelperro

@Marsh Marigold "I really think that some of this intensely pro-breastfeeding info we get is actually an anti-feminist attempt to keep us chained to our babies"

Because of where I live and what I do, I would be eaten alive for admitting this in person, but I suspect the same thing.

julia

@Marsh Marigold Check out Jessica Valenti's "Why Breastfeeding Supremacists Can Suck my Left One." I think you're on to something with the anti-feminist slant:

"We should reserve our motherly disdain for systemic issues that make parenting harder — workplace inequities and the maternal wage gap, the lack of paid maternity leave and affordable child-care options — not other women’s personal decisions about how to feed their babies."

bocadelperro

@julia It's not even just the disdain, though. I can't really articulate it well, but I feel like it's part of a larger discourse (god I hate it when I use that word outside of work) that attempts to reduce women and mothers to their biological functions.

For example: when I got married, my doctor (who I had always thought of as a hippie, Margaret Sanger sort of reproductive rights champion) told me that I should start taking pre-natal vitamins, even though we have no plans to have a baby any time in the foreseeable future, and I'm not even sure that I can (long story). She then fired back something about what's best for my baby. Here was a medical professional treating me like I was pre-pregnant and using the argument that I should be changing my behavior for a theoretical baby that may happen a VERY long time in the future. I promptly switched doctors (thank goodness I have insurance that will let me), but my whole perspective on chlid-rearing and care was shifted.

There are also huge assumptions made about class and the health of the mother in these debates, but I think I've typed enough words on this subject.

SarahP

Your baby is beautiful and amazing and as horrifying as it is to have any baby-related plans go awry, try not to be horrified. Clearly you are doing something right if she already likes Quentin Tarantino at 4 months.

km1312

holy shit, that is one cute baby

klw
klw

Nicole! You are Me. BUT, I didn't even make it 4 months, just 3. And you know what?!? I have a 14 month old, that walks and talks and giggles and is HEALTHY and ABOVE AVERAGE and AMAZING. (Oh the FENUGREEK and the prescription lactation drugs that made me MORE depressed... and the LLL and the Mother's Milk tea and the pumping, oh the pumping).

I nursed, and nursed, and nursed, and nursed, and at 3 weeks we weren't even close to birth weight. What's better? You tell me. An exclusively breastfed baby, or a happy & healthy baby. TELL ME WHICH ONE IS BETTER!!!!

atipofthehat

@klw

'Pinfant Playdates ?

klw
klw

@atipofthehat OMG. Yes! (although I'm already starting to feel insecure because you're obvs brilliant... 'Pinfant...)

MeghanElizabeth

I feel pretty confident that Nicole could take on any judgey lactivists.

lobsterhug

Wet nurses were (are?) a thing, so obviously this has been happening from the beginning.

bocadelperro

@lobsterhug I have some expertise in this area, and I can say emphatically yes.
Also, humans are not the only mammals who sometimes can't lactate after birth. It commonly happens to dogs, (and I'm sure other animals) too.

bashe

@lobsterhug Yes! Apparently, chimpanzee mothers don't know how to feed their infants if the mothers have not been around other nursing females. So we should all, I don't know, probably breastfeed in groups on park benches or something. Because it's freakishly difficult if you don't know how.

lobsterhug

@bashe This is what comes of people freaking out about breastfeeding in public. Boobz! Oh no, think of the children! Pearl clutching irony?

wharrgarbl

@bocadelperro Pretty much every mammal. If you're in the business of breeding anything, there's "What to do if the mother does not produce enough/any milk" sections in the manual. And there've been cases where human moms have been brought in to nurse in front of chimp and gorilla moms whose upbringing didn't involve seeing breastfeeding happen, because otherwise they don't know what the hell they're supposed to do with their own babies. So, yeah.

bocadelperro

@wharrgarbl I figured as much, but seeing as how my previously referred-to expertise is in the history of families in Europe and not in say, biology, I figured I'd leave it at that. Thanks for chiming in!

wharrgarbl

@bocadelperro If you ever read the James Herriot books, it seems like every other story is "Oh shit, the puppies/kittens/lamb/piglets are going to die because the mom's milk hasn't come in!"

I imagine humans aren't any less likely to run into the not-enough-milk problem on account of us being so highly social. If a sow doesn't produce enough milk to feed her litter, the other sows aren't going to come over and let the hungry piglets latch on. The pressure to have mammary glands that work well and work on time is inelastic. If a human mom couldn't produce enough, or it came in late, typically there have been other human moms within the social group who could and would pinch-hit rather than see their niece or cousin or sister fail to thrive.

ETA: Which of course makes the modern pressure to be able to always feed your baby all by yourself with no supplementation or wet nurse or whatever that much more ridiculous.

bocadelperro

@wharrgarbl Yes. This. Plus, people (in the West!) who had the means usually got a goat at the same time they had a baby, as a plan B, well into the 19th century, and probably later, which leads to all sorts of creepy/adorable photos of babies suckling goats, such as: http://brisray.com/bizarre/pcbsuckling01.jpg .

Also I know about the doggie thing because I had the joy of helping to bottle feed a bunch of tiny puppies whose momma couldn't nurse them when I was a kid. It was adorable/lovely/sad.

Craftastrophies

@wharrgarbl Well, listen, if you're going to bring FACTS and RATIONALITY to the discussion, I might have to leave. It's just not on.

wharrgarbl

@Craftastrophies Shit, you're right. This is a thread about motherhood; I should be in somebody's grill about something. Um.

GET A JOB, GORILLA-MOMS!

bananapants

Ugh, so odds are I won't ever be able to breast feed because of physical stuff, and EVEN THOUGH I am not currently pregnant or even close to being so, I feel absurdly guilty about it. Plus Im in medical school and seriously they push breast feeding on you like CRAZY so I'm pretty convinced my artificially nourished future kids will be swamp monsters with immune system deficiencies and empty brains.

L M
L M

oh god, again, I will never breastfeed. it squicks me out. yes, I am a woman, and a lesbian. and boobs are for sex only. GAH BREASTFEEDING EW EW EW EWWWWWWWWWWWWW. (I'm allowed to say this because this is not Jezebel.)

cute baby, though. can't wait to have one.

bangs
bangs

@Lucia Martinez It creeps me out too. Childbirth in general freaks me out.

City_Dater

@Lucia Martinez

You have made solid food come out of my nose when I snort-laughed at my desk! *Food sneeze*

That baby is adorable and looks healthy and alert and obviously delighted with the taste of her own fist, so whatever you're doing, Nicole, it's working.

SarahP

@Lucia Martinez A friend of mine who is a mother once said she was going to be glad to be done with breastfeeding so her boobs would once again be for sexytimes, not just for mealtimes. Her baby was like 18 months at the time! 18 months of boobs not being for sexytimes?!

Porn Peddler

@Lucia Martinez Own it.

Everything about childhood and reproduction makes me think I'm going to faint (and this is coming from the nightcleaner of the jizzcade, my ovaries do not work right)

null

@Xaxa Childbirth freaks me out and I'VE DONE IT. It is some surreal, freaky shit.

SarahP

@klaus Childbirth freaks me out and yet I want to do it! (Someday. Maybe after I get over the thought of tearing. OH GOD.)

packedsuitcase

@SarahP Childbirth and pregnancy and everything that goes with it squicks me out sooooo much.

And yet? My uterus sees that little baby and says, "Awwww. Maybe? Someday? Pleeeeeeease?"

Porn Peddler

@packedsuitcase My ovaries look at a human child and have no response whatsoever.

Baby animals? Grown-ass men?

They sing. PUPPIES! CUTE BOY! KITTENS!!!!! BABY SLOTHS MAKING TINY MEEPS!!!!!!!!! What does a singing ovary even sound like? Perhaps like a boiling tea kettle...

SarahP

@packedsuitcase Ha, my uterus is more like "THAT. IN ME. RIGHT NOW." And I'm like, "Come on, uterus, we're in public, seriously."

packedsuitcase

@SarahP I'm scared. I think mine is headed that way. I was a "No babies, no babies!" for so many years and then...well, then I met Dudefriend. And now it's all, "Oh, maybe babies, I don't know..." while secretly cooing over little baby clothes in the store and begging to hold infants.

Stupid Dudefriend *kicks rocks*

EpWs

@Third Wave Housewife Girlfriend, I am with you. I can see that babies are adorable (and this baby is ADORABLE) but no singing ovaries or uteri. However, meeping baby sloths? The puppy my parents just got? I am all about the baby talk and the snuggling and the melting. I can't even handle it.

Bebe

@Third Wave Housewife Your ovaries and my ovaries are similar in this regard!

bangs
bangs

@Third Wave Housewife Same. I won't rule out kids completely, but the high pitched noises... I just can't...

Mingus_Thurber

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher wee meeping baby sloths BANG meeping baby sloths BANG sloths!

That was both of my frontal lobes blowing up.

tortietabbie

@Third Wave Housewife Tiny meeps from a baby sloth make me completely goo-goo brained. And their little finger-claws!!!!

EpWs

@Third Wave Housewife What about cute guys holding baby animals? DEAD.

Craftastrophies

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I don't know if singing ovaries sound like a kettle whistle, but that's definitely the sound my mouth just made from that video.

@packedsuitcase I just left a phase of 'omg babies' and I am SO RELIEVED. My partner has teenagers and a vasectomy, and I have always been ambivalent about the idea of having kids. I am planning to get my biological imperative through helping raise other people's kids. But when I went off my birth control there were three or so months there where I could feel the Baby Haze creeping up on me. But it's gone now. I held my boss' baby the other day and was like 'well, this is a cuddly small thing, but I'd prefer a puppy'. Babies with whom I have a relationship are still lovely, but the whole Biological thing is less of a deal. Praise be. I'm sure it will come back later but I can wait it out.

That said, babies are pretty amazing and I endorse everyone else having them if they feel like it. And then I will snuggle them and nom their tiny toes.

EpWs

@Craftastrophies :D

Can we talk about how terrifying the thought of biological imperatives/biological clocks are? I mean, there are many, many reasons I don't want kids. (Like you, I'm all about helping raise other people's kids, and helping keep their parents sane.) I'm just terrified that in a few years my body's going to throw my brain under the bus and go all OMG MOAR BABBIES FOREVER and that is alarming to the rational planner type person in me. Halp? (Also your story is very very reassuring to me, thank you so much for sharing it.)

Craftastrophies

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher SO terrifying. I am totally not down with my body doing things I have not authorised it to do. Which is does all the time, because it is a body and that's what they do. But it's freaking scary. It's like the projecting into the future/now version of reading your old diaries and not recognising yourself.

Personally, I'm terrified that at some point I will become desperate to have babies, and in doing so ruin the best relationship that I've ever had, and the life I am building for myself. I mean, I COULD have babies. It's just that every scenario involves a whole lot of pain and regrets, for many people. I'm scared that something I can't control will lead me to do things I don't really want.

I was so relieved when I held my boss' baby and realised that I just didn't care. There was not even any internal cooing. It was a tiny person, and that was great, but I feel uncomfortable touching people I don't have a relationship with, and that included this baby. So I feel like maybe now, next time I start to get clucky, I can just ride it out.

Porn Peddler

@Craftastrophies I've never even wanted to hold a baby and I assume if someone was like HERE, BABY, TAKE IT, it would immediately start screaming because it would know I am confused/horrified/displeased with the situation.

babies just make me super uncomfortable, I am the worst

Craftastrophies

@Third Wave Housewife Why shouldn't they? I mean, you're allowed. I am quite fond of them, but I feel strongly that people should not be thrusting other people at me, in general.

No reason you should like babies. Most of them look like Winston Churchill, anyway. That, or Nixon.

EpWs

@Third Wave Housewife Revelation time: I have just realized that when people hand me babies and I take them, I am really hoping that they will just behave like puppies (ie: love you all over and then run outside to poop). I know how to handle puppies!

@Craftastrophies "I'm scared that something I can't control will lead me to do things I don't really want." Yes, this, exactly. EXACTLY. It is so reassuring to hear this from someone who is not me. Thank you, thank you.

Craftastrophies

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher This made me have emotions in my eyes. I'm glad you posted here, I often feel like I'm being paranoid and/or robotic and unemotional. Story of my life, really. But it is so good to hear it talked about not like a life sentence, but not like something trivial either. ('You'll get over it' etc. I don't WANT to get over it!)

I tend to be a bit bored by babies, tbh. I'll happily have a cuddle and/or hold the kid while you drink your coffee or have a shower. But I'm not really interested until they're more interactive.

EpWs

@Craftastrophies If you want further emotions in your eyes--good ones, from people who are pretty much not judgey (I can't remember the entire comment thread, but most of them are fantastic from what I recall) and are very supportive, read this article and thread over on A Practical Wedding. (Also good reads: the two "Why Wife and Mother Don't Have To Go Together" posts, linked at the bottom of the article.) I was so relieved to find that thread, and I'm so relieved we're getting to talk about it here too. Hooray! Big hugs and high-fives across the interwebs.

Edit: I can only vouch for the "Wife and Mother" posts/threads, as I just realized I haven't read all the comments on the newest post and some of them are kind of touchy? But APW peeps are usually pretty chill.

tortietabbie

@Third Wave Housewife Ah! I feel the same way, re: babies. They're so intimidating. Every time I have to be near one I get panic-sweats and start hating myself.

packedsuitcase

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Hahaha, everytime somebody hands me a baby I make puppy noises at them. Luckily my friends know me and don't take offense to the fact that for the first few months I treat their children like baby animals.

And I kind of hope this phase of "babies aren't a life sentence to boredom and horribleness" passes. My child free existance is wonderful and I don't really know if I'll ever give it up. It's not that I don't like teacup humans, but they are so exhausting. And that's just watching them! I do have it on good authority from friends who are on the "no babies EVER" train that they had phases where they thought they wanted them, but they passed.

I think it's pretty awesome when people look at their lives and decide "Nope, I'm pretty much not the type that wants to give birth and raise a screaming bundle of love." I mean, people who want to be parents (and can raise a child well, because I'm sorry, just because you want one doesn't mean you'll be a good parent) SHOULD be parents. And people who don't want to be parents SHOULDN'T be parents. Simple. And nobody should get their panties in a knot over other people's reproductive organs. (I know. I live in a dream world. It's nice here, and friendly.)

Anji

@packedsuitcase I love that you refer to children as "teacup humans". It makes me smile. (Probably because Pam is the best ever.) I like babies and kids, but I like them even better when I can give them back to their parents.

Bitterblue

@Third Wave Housewife You are not the worst, because I'm the same way, and thus it's impossible for you to be the worst. We are both worse, I guess.
But the best possible thing I can think of to say about babies is that they all look like tiny Winston Churchills, and that makes me laugh. And laughter is good, right?

ETA: Whoops, redundant! But still relevant?

Bitterblue

@packedsuitcase I would like to move into your dreamworld, if there is space. Can I rent or lease?
I so much DO NOT WANT children that the mere idea of pregnancy triggers a mild panic attack. I would be a HORRIBLE parent. I am only a good pet owner because my cat will literally come up and gently bite me if she decides she hasn't had enough attention. That kind of behavior in children is considered Antisocial and Maladjusted, I think.

packedsuitcase

@Bitterblue Yes, you are welcome here. You do not need to rent or lease, we have cozy homes available for free. All you have to do is promise to be nice and only junkpunch juiceboxes and respect everybody's choices re: reproduction and other issues that involve nobody but themselves. If this is acceptable, I will send you the contract in the mail posthaste.

Craftastrophies

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher That article was great. I've been doing that a bit lately. I don't have any regrets about my choices, and the future I see in front of me. It's going to be amazing. But I have needed to grieve a bit for the might-have-beens.

EpWs

@packedsuitcase I want to go to there! I'd like a nice 2BR/2bath bungalow, please. (The extra bedroom is for friends who want to visit/think about living there, obvs.)
@Craftastrophies Exactly! Exactly exactly. Glad you liked the article, they're good people over there.

DarthRachel

it'll be FIIINE. I wouldn't breast feed as a baby at all (i lost like.. .1/5 of my body weight at one point?) and back when I was born it was either breast feed or bottle feed, no pumping. and i'm totes smart (i have a graduate degree wooo, so maybe i'm not awesome with money. and... i do have a TINY bit of asthma. ok yea.. you fail at life.)

NO, IT'LL BE FIIINE.

Porn Peddler

@DarthRachel I was breast fed (my parents were stupid rich at the time) and I have All The Asthma.

lue
lue

@DarthRachel
Breastfed until I was 2, no formula ever. Asthma. It's a crapshoot, really.
(though, my grandma smoking in the car with me as a baby, windows UP, might be a factor...)

M'fly

@DarthRachel I was also breastfed until I was two, and I have a gazillion allergies and plenty o' mental health issues. And I had the most sick days out of all the kids in my elementary school. So yeah, total crapshoot. I do think that breastmilk is superior* to formula, but not if it comes at the cost of mom's sanity.

*Physiologically, not morally.

Craftastrophies

@Third Wave Housewife Me too. Breastfeed to some double number of months. Everything makes me itch/fail to breathe. And anxiety, directly as a result of my insane mother, so... I'd personally value not being insane over breastfeeding. But that's just me.

packedsuitcase

@J Keems@twitter A-effing-men.

GoToaster

@DarthRachel I was never breastfed but I've no physical health issues to speak of and have been an honor roll student and a star athlete. There are far too many factors in a child's life and environment and relationships to get all bent out of shape over one such factor, even if it is touted as being important in its own right.

Katy

Dude, don't read those message boards. EVER! Those kind of moms are so self-riteous and have nothing else to do but put other people down because they "succeeded" at something completely worthless. I tried-failed at BF like sososo many women do. I cried and cried and got super depressed about being a failure (also, being told I was a failure from "helpful" family members). Here is what I truly believe now, those "facts" about BFed babies being smarter is all bullshit. So many statistics are so subjective. If you read to her and love her and are generally not an asshole (it's ok to be an asshole sometimes because kids are jerks) she will be smart and caring and wonderful. The end.

LeafySeaDragon

@Katy i respect your opinion, but i think you probably want to look at your comment and see if you sound like the people who hurt you. we need to be supportive of all mothering, and it's rude of you to deem something "worthless".

julia

@Katy I'm not a mom and I got about 3 posts in before I had to quit. The audacious smugness.

Katy

@LeafySeaDragon I am totally and completely in support of breastfeeding, but doing it should not be touted as an accomplishment. Doing what your body does naturally is not something you have achieved through hard work. I don't like the attitude that women who can't/don't breastfeed are "failures." It just didn't work for them for whatever reason. My brother has a kidney disease and got a transplant, but I don't brag to him that i succeeded at kidneys because mine work and his don't. It's shaming for the sake of making oneself feel better and I hate it. I can concede that I come off as a little harsh, but it is simply not ok to say to women who are really hardcore about breastfeeding that you didn't do/failed/hated it-whatever. They don't accept it and push you to admit in some way that you gave up. Why? So they can feel better about why they did it. So I guess I mean to say I don't think feeding your child via your own milk is worthless, but acting like a hero for doing it is. It is not something to brag about or shame someone else for not doing.

LeafySeaDragon

@Katy but... it IS something you have to work at. i had to learn to do it. that's why so many people have issues with it. i'm proud of myself, because i worked *hard* at something that was important to me. that's not shaming you, that's being proud of myself.

i have never met anyone who at their first child just went oop, boobs! and fed that baby with no issues and heartache.

Katy

I don't think your attidude is shaming, but many moms do have that mentality. I just don't see why people care so much about how we feed our kids.

Inkling

@Katy
I guess I don't give a big crap about the subject at hand, but I do like "succeeding at kidneys".

ETA I mean I am obviously mad at the people who are telling women that their entire life is to be a sandwich for their child, yet my attention span is limited to catchy dialogue > babying.

noReally

Hooray for Hairpin commenters! Fuck to death judgey lactivists. Nicole, beautiful baby.

SuperMargie

I had a crisis delivery and almost went into cardiac arrest and required a transfusion. My breast milk never came in for shit and I could not breast feed, and yet those fanatic nurses at the nursing center would not cut me any fucking slack whatsoever. They sent me home with a pump, which I was glad to do, and yet it took me hours upon hours to produce any milk. I was literally hostage to that pump, and one of the nurses had the gall to tell me that if I loved my baby enough, the milk would "come on its' own".
After falling completely apart in the pediatrician's office during one of his check up and telling the Doc what was going on, she promptly called them up and took names and told them to fuck off. Then she handed me a sample of Enfamil, and I slowly started working my way out of this shame spiral that had plagued me the first 8 weeks of his life.
He is perfectly smart, happy and well-adjusted and has missed school 2 times in 5 years due to illness. Me, on the other hand, everytime I read articles like this, even though I know it is hard for everyone else to nurse too, I get upset and still feel like I have failed my son. Even after 10 years.

Alixana

@SuperMargie I will set that nurse on Melis-trademarked FIRE for you.

LeafySeaDragon

@SuperMargie i hear these stories all the time, and i'm like WHERE THE HECK were these pro boob medical people when i had my kids!? doctors and nurses did nothing but tell me to stop and tell me i was hurting my babies. :(

moral of story: doctors suck

EpWs

@SuperMargie WTF nurse? That is so totally uncalled for I hope she got fired. And then, FIRE'D.

packedsuitcase

@Alixana Can I help?

Alixana

@packedsuitcase Absolutely. To the torches!

melis

At the very least, let's throw acid on one of her legs.

SuperMargie

@melis {wipes tears away} *sniff* You guys are awesome!

Craftastrophies

@SuperMargie Jeez. Even if your son did have all the allergies or whatever problems they are supposed to have if you don't breastfeed, you still wouldn't have failed. You did the things you thought were right to the best of your ability, including switching to formula when that was the right answer, and that is an amazing thing.

One of my friends got yelled at for half an hour by a nurse for starting her kid on solids a month earlier than she was 'supposed' to. Even though he wouldn't take milk anymore and was reaching for food. I still get rage haze when I think about that.

Surely living/parenting is hard ENOUGH without arbitrary goals to hit? Why do care providers, of all people, make it more difficult?

Bitterblue

@SuperMargie That literally made me gasp in horror. I can't imagine someone (supposedly educated! A nurse!) making such an asinine, hurtful and blatantly wrong comment like that. ALL THE FIRE.

curlygirl

This is a great post. I have a five month old and for the first two months breastfeeding was an absolute nightmare. I was a hysterical, sleep-deprived nut job, and I put a lot of pressure on myself around breastfeeding-- I wasn't prepared for how hard it can be. In the end we worked out our issues (tongue tie, bad latch, plugged ducts, etc) and now it's great but I would have drawn the line at the tube-to-the-boob contraption. When I meet other new or expecting moms, I tell them what my great lactation consultant told me: The most important thing is to just feed the baby-- it doesn't matter how or with what. And that is just what you did! Brava, mama. Also: cute baby!

sevanetta

Nicole! 1. I just woke up from a dream where I gave birth to a baby (boy) and then fretted :because he wasn't fussed on breastfeeding:. (I also had trouble naming him.)

2. Go read http://bluemilk.wordpress.com immediately, if you aren't already. A few of my friends have had this issue so I'm sorry that this has been hard for you :( but to 3. chime in with everyone... your baby is terribly cute, that formula must have something killer in it.

EternalFootwoman

The worst thing about having patients who have problems breastfeeding is the guilt-trips they take themselves on. I hate that something that is a relatively small thing in the modern, industrialized world (where we have clean water and the kid will be eating a variety of healthy solids and be stimulated and sent to school) has become the seal of Good Parenthood.

ChaCha

UGH. I did all those things, too! Including the off label internet order drug that shipped in from Thailand. And the tube. The fucking SNS tube. I ended up losing my mind and lobbing it at the wall in a fit of fury at 3 AM. Also, I am like 99% sure that lactation consultants have the most lucrative, low impact job in the world. Fondle some titties, coo at babies, 300 dollars. I ended up pumping exclusively. Lactation consultant: "Why not not just give the baby the milk from the tap??" Why don't I strangle you with your SNS tube, wench? I still have feelings about this 4 years later, clearly.

JessicaLovejoy

Those eyebrows are fuckin' SOLID.

A baby with real person eyebrows is surely advanced and destined to blow away all those whispy-hurred peach fuzzy bebehs in cuteness and also life.

SarahP

@JessicaLovejoy How did I not even notice her adorable eyebrows ?!

EpWs

@JessicaLovejoy Truth: I was an eyebrow'd baby, and I am now a Hairpin commenter. Coincidence? I THINK NOT. (But seriously, eyebrow'd babies are the best, high five to baby Cliffe.)

Maria

@JessicaLovejoy I had to stop and go back to see the eyebrows. They are fantastically expressive.

mczz

The breastfeeding issue makes me crazy. I just feel so bad for the way women are shamed about this, it's so unacceptable and ridiculous. If/when I am a mother, the plan is absolutely to breastfeed, with the sincere hope that it works. And the plan to do everything in my power to make it work. And the understanding that it just might not, despite everything.

I can't stand the sanctimonious self-righteousness of the thread you linked. Like breastfeeding mothers don't have enough to worry about without being shamed because their experience doesn't match an ideal.

redheaded&crazy

Nicooooooooooooooole!

You the best. I find it so gd crazy every day how some women conspire to keep their own gender down. ya Know? whether it comes to momming the right way, or behaving the right way in any other context, or super crazy serious shit like matriarchs in africa maintaining traditions of female genital mutilation

That's why I love you guys.

This has been my non-vapid comment for the day. TAKE THAT MOLLY

raised amongst catalogs

@redheadedandcrazy No, try again. Too much love.

redheaded&crazy

FINE. WHATEVER. Nicooooooooooooooole!

You the best. I find it so gd crazy every day how some women conspire to keep their own gender down. ya Know? whether it comes to momming the right way, or behaving the right way in any other context, or super crazy serious shit like matriarchs in africa maintaining traditions of female genital mutilation

That's why I love you guys.

raised amongst catalogs

@redheadedandcrazy !!!!!!!!!!!!

redonion

1. THAT BABY IS SO FREAKIN' ADORABLE!

2. I don't have a baby but one of my close friends recently had a baby. And this friend is the kind of person with serious thoughts and very definite visions about what constitutes the correct way to raise a child. And at the top of the list for babyhood was breastfeeding. And the first time I went to visit her about a month after the baby was born, my friend could not go 5 minutes without crying because of the baby's weight loss and jaundice issues and her own feelings of responsibility and fears about not bonding with the baby if she didn't breastfeed, and how she didn't want to pump because if she started using a bottle the baby might only want the bottle so she had to get up every hour and force the baby to eat which took almost an hour so she was not sleeping, pretty much ever, etc, etc. I pretty much decided right there and then that if I ever have children, I won't hesitate for a second to go formula (and I was a formula baby, so there's that bias). I saw my friend last week (it's been a couple of months) and she has switched to formula and she looks amazing and the baby has absurdly chubby cheeks and everyone is happy and sleeping. So, yay formula!

Bon Vivant

dear god. those message boards made me want to staple my uterus closed.

Porn Peddler

Omg, this reminds me so much of the rage-fit a woman got into with Jessica Valenti when she wrote about this exact subject. Basically, Jess and her little girl are both lucky to be alive after a difficult pregnancy and birth, and THE SHIT PEOPLE SAID TO HER, THE SHIT PEOPLE SAY TO SO MANY MOTHERS, THE SHIT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT THEIR CHOICES OH MY GOD *rage rage rage*

In case you can't help it and need to rage about it, this is her summary of the ordeal: Why Breastfeeding Supremacists Can Suck My Left One

also correction to the photo description "Baby appears healthy and happy, watches Kill Bill, is healthy and happy."

beanie

@Third Wave Housewife I think this is my number one fear about having kids (not that I am even close to having them). I get rage-filled right now hearing this kind of shit, and I don't have kids. I'm afraid I will be on some sort of one-woman warpath if I go to mommy and me and get judged.

julia

@Third Wave Housewife Was just about to link this! I loved that piece from Valenti. Read it if you haven't, Nicole!

Porn Peddler

@beanie It takes almost nothing to set me off on what you describe, so I should probably have my tubes scarred shut immediately (I would love this). My raging feminist is out in full-force today, man.

Cavendish

@Third Wave Housewife Jesus. Poor Jessica Valenti. She got shit for looking cute in front of Bill Clinton, she got shit for getting married, and now she's getting shit for how she feeds her baby?! The Internet is such a jerk sometimes!

Craftastrophies

@Third Wave Housewife "What's more important, your job or feeding your baby?" Uh... feeding my baby? Which is one of the reasons I HAVE my job, so that I can continue to do so? RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

beanie

So because I'm a glutton for punishment, I decided to go over and read some of the posts over on that Mothering site...WHOA.

Direct quote from someone: I've pumped more than a half ounce of blood, straight blood, out of my left breast on several occasions, had five bouts of mastitis, open sores on the areola, plugged ducts, blisters.

Currently in the fetal position under my desk.

bangs
bangs

@beanie Ugh, I should not be reading this while eating...

Bebe

@beanie AHHH!!! OMG, if blood came out of my boob I would be calling 911 and shrieking in horror. This HAPPENS?

fabel

@beanie I'm at the beginning of reading that thread & am still reading "bf" in my head as "boyfriend" instead of "breast-feed".

AniaGosia

@Bebe But not all the time! I had some sore nipples and soreness from massively engorged boobs, but otherwise had no problems breastfeeding at all. I'm still doing it at 10 months though my guy is eating real food now too and everything is fine. So it doesn't have to be a horror story! I would have stopped in a heartbeat if blood had been coming out of my nipples though! Yikes. That's why they make formula, no?

Bebe

@AniaGosia I don't have kids but most of my friends and family members do, so I always think I have heard about every single gross and terrifying thing that happens to a woman's body during pregnancy/when the baby is an infant, but there is always more! Always! I've heard about boobs being sore, nipples being cracked, infections in the nipple (to anyone who didn't know that - I'm so sorry), but BLOOD coming out of your boob??? I'm going to go lie in bed with the covers pulled up over my head for a while...

AniaGosia

@Bebe Yeah, that is seriously the worst. My nipples are cringing at the thought. I knew I was lucky that everything was pretty easy, but now ... OH THANK GOD.

no way

@beanie Can you imagine being this woman's child in 11 years or so? I don't want to make assumptions, but that is some type-a craziness. It would not surprise me if this came up over and over throughout her child's life. 'I would do anything for you. ANYTHING! I pumped ounces of blood for you! And this is how you treat me?'

makingtrouble

you know, not having a baby or being pregs, i'm not the super all knowing expert here.

but me and the boyfrand have been talking about stuff and babies came up. and i casually mentioned i'm not all that invested in breastfeeding (nipples pierced, mastitis issues, etc). and he was super adamant about 'our babies HAVE to be breastfed and you're a bad mother if you don't"

um what the fuck, dearest? we're years and years away from that decision and IT'S NOT EVEN UP TO YOU, AS YOU ARE BREASTLESS AND SERIOUSLY SHUT IT BEFORE SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS.

god maybe it's me but i'm super ragey lately about men butting in on issues that are women only territory.

EpWs

@makingtrouble The hell? Girlfriend, you are obvs not required to do anything with your boobs you don't want to do, and from what I've read about it, mastitis sounds like a fucking nightmare. I know I'm not telling you anything you don't know already, but just wanted to throw some validation your way? You are awesome and so are your boobs the end.

beanie

@makingtrouble it is not just you. I don't know whether it is because it's been in the news so much lately or if it's because my crazy uncle has been posting about it on Facebook, but I've been seeing a lot of women's health issues being discussed in a way that makes me feel awful.

melis

@makingtrouble Just give it some Sunny D, it'll be fine.

melis

Or like Rice Nog or whatever.

tortietabbie

@makingtrouble I LOVE YOUR ICON.

Also, I had pierced nips for a while and was told that if I just took the studs out when I got pregnant it would be a-OK. But now I look at this scar tissue and I just think, yeah right. So that will be interesting when/if I get to baby-making.

makingtrouble

@tortietabbie hahahaha fat pony rules all.

yeah i dunno. i've had mine done for 3plus years now and they're still sore all the time and lymphy and not settling down well at all. so when it comes time for baby making i'm gonna be super super cautious and possibly not even breastfeed because seriously mastitis is the worst thing ever and supposed to be a higher risk for nipple pierced ladies. and the dudefriend can suck it because they're my boobies, not his.

Tits McGee

@makingtrouble Hear, hear ... I think I need to get "i'm super ragey lately about men butting in on issues that are women only territory" tattooed on my forehead these days.

LeafySeaDragon

i had a rough start nursing my first one, he was jaundiced and i was yelled at by the ped. i ignored her (stubborn! and not always in a good way) and ended up with a FAT BABY. i use all caps because my baby was literally obese. baby #2, i was a nursing pro. downside: again, obese baby. the fact that all of that obesity came from my boobs and was a product of my freaky oversupply issues and all cream milk nothwithstanding, the ped hated me and told me i was unfit to nurse my kids. now they are 5 and 8, and i rpetty much hate all other mothers. sorry you guise, but the internet mothering community broke me.

no matter what you do there is always someone on a high(er?) horse trying to knock ya down.

southwer

@LeafySeaDragon no, there are some cool moms out here! but it's true, most of the moms on the babycenter type boards do suck. but I'm cool! hooray for obese babies!

LeafySeaDragon

@southwer those guidelines are messed up. my oldest is now considered underweight, he's just growing!

likethestore

This scares me, because even though I'm nowhere close to having a baby, breastfeeding is something that's really important to me and I really want to succeed at it. My mom was a LLL leader, she nursed my brother and myself to an embarrassing age (nursing during pregnancy and tandem nursing too), she is still a boob nazi to this day. I grew up in a culture of breastfeeding. I work as a nanny and I spend a lot of time reading parenting books and websites. So the thought of failure...yikes. But on the other hand I have cared for dozens of kids who were formula fed and they were really truly fine. Also, your baby is adorable.

Cavendish

Have you seen Hairpinner Sarah Blackwood's tumblr? http://feedingthebaby.tumblr.com/ It's great.

I just found out I'm pregnant (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!) and I'm already worried about this. Tangentially: can anyone recommend good pregnancy books?

EpWs

@Cavendish Congratulations on your impending baby! That is terribly exciting! (Are you getting one of those Dragon Babies we've been hearing so much about?)

I don't know of any good pregnancy books, having never been pregnant, but I've heard that What To Expect When You're Making A Terrible Movie With JLo/Are Expecting is one to avoid.

joie

@Cavendish I have to say, I skimmed "What To Expect..." when I was pregnant and it had some helpful info, but also scared me a bit when my pregnancy didn't align with where the book said it should be. So take all the advice with a boulder of salt. The best book I've read on parenting/motherhood, hands down, is Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions: A Journal Of My Son's First Year. Maybe it's because my experiences with motherhood were so similar to hers (single mom, son, broke), but I found it so helpful and pleasant to read, especially when I was feeling so freaked out and overwhelmed.
Are you excited? Are congratulations in order?

CrescentMelissa

@Cavendish Awww, congrats! It is a dated at this point but The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy really made me laugh. Also, be easy on yourself, eat the cupcake if you want it, and everything does go back somewhat to what it was, sometimes even better!

EpWs

@Cavendish I am really hoping I didn't jump the gun with the congrats! I figured the (Eeeeeeeeeeeee!) was indicative of excitement--if you are excited, it's very exciting! If not, lady, we are here for you regardless.

Katy

@Cavendish I love all the Baby 411 books and they now have a pregnancy 411. It's so concise and helpful and saved us from many late night phone calls to our moms about wtf we were supposed to do. Highly, highly recommend.

Cavendish

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Ha! :) Half of the Es are excited and half are terrified, so your congratulations were perfect. Thanks!

Cavendish

@Katy I haven't come across those yet. They sound perfect. Thanks!

sarah girl

@heyits I'm not a parent, but Operating Instructions is incredible, and I have heard similar feedback from people who are parents. She gets REALLY real in it about the frustrations and fears of parenting, but also writes beautifully about the joys in it.

Cavendish

@heyits I love Anne Lamott! Thanks for the rec. I'll check it out.

I'm pretty excited, but nervous about being a poor grad student with a baby. Plus our timing is awful, so it's due a month into the fall semester. I have had baby fever for ages though, so I'm super happy even though the logistics make me nervous! Luckily we have great insurance, including family coverage.

Nicole Cliffe

Congratulations! And, honestly, Because Evolution, even if the timing is shitty, you'll probably be incapable of imagining having put it off until Better Timing.

Cavendish

@Nicole Cliffe Thanks, Nicole! I'm so happy it's finally happening, even though it would have been even better to wait a couple of months. Oh well! Yay!

annepersand

@Cavendish OMG Congratulations!

joie

@Cavendish Congratulations! You will make it work, despite the timing, and amaze yourself at how strong and capable you are when faced with juggling school/work/motherhood. Babies are so wonderful. At the risk of sounding like my mom, they are a Blessing. I hope your pregnancy goes smoothly! Keep us all updated.

hallelujah

@Cavendish Ahhhh me too! & I'm the first one of any of my friends to get knocked up except for one (who is way crunchier than I am), so I don't even know where to start on the book/advice tip.

EpWs

@heyits @Cavendish @hallelujah Speaking of A Blessing, you guys need to dibs your Puritan Baby Names NOW.

drunkenbee

@Cavendish Congratulations! And thanks for the Tumblr plug! The comments to this post are just, in general, making me feel so happy about the state of non-judging womanhood, but also making me wonder why I didn't realize that this is what we're all about BEFORE my own breastfeeding nightmare (and accompanying shame spiraling). I hope that all this doesn't freak you out, @Cavendish, because, truly and honestly sometimes it *does* work, the way it's supposed to!....it's just that I really want to keep collecting women's stories so that when it isn't working, and it's 3:30 a.m., and you are alone with your iPhone and a baby and a pump, you have some voices to take you through it, that aren't telling you how to do it, just saying quietly: there are many ways to do it, and whatever you choose, it will be the right choice.

moonshine

@Cavendish Congrats! I too am a poor grad student who's having a baby...and a little freaked out. She's due in 5.5 weeks, and have this ONE semester of classes left and if I were to stop my schooling to have a baby I'd be a whole year behind-I couldn't make up classes over summer-I'd have to WAIT another year. So our timing wasn't so great either, and because of my classes I may not be able to breastfeed like I want (3 hour classes with only 10 min break in between classes-no time to pump).

So basically I'm saying I'm very thankful for this article and ALL the lovely commenters, they have made me feel so much better about doing whatever works best for my baby and I, even if it is not what every one says I should be doing (aka breastfeeding).

EpWs

@moonshine @Cavendish As a grad student who doesn't even have a dog right now, I just want to say that you ladies are ROCKSTARS and I am in awe of your badassery. Get it, soon-to-be-mamas. Congrats to all of you!

AniaGosia

@Cavendish The best are Ina May Garten's. I was so scared of giving birth and Spiritual Midwifery helped me SO much! All those pictures of happy hippie Mamas and all the birth stories - the best. Her techniques for opening up your cervix really worked. A lot of the books I was given were basically just scare-mongering. Don't listen to those!

AniaGosia

@Cavendish I'm a grad student too (philosophy) and I just had a baby last March. Any advice, chat, anything - let me know! We're here for you! It's going to be awesome!

AniaGosia

@moonshine Grad student 'pinner Mamas, unite!

MmeLibrarian

@Cavendish Congrats! I'm 26.5 weeks myself. So far, the only pregnancy book I've read is the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. It's a great book: it's well organized, keeps the shaming to a bare bare minimum, and has good information. Beyond that, my husband and I are both reading Penelope Leach's Your Baby and Child, which was given to us by a friend. He and his wife refer to it as the "don't worry" book, which is absolutely how it comes off. It gives reasonable, calmly worded advice about dealing with infants and children through the age of five.

AniaGosia

@AniaGosia duh, I mean Gaskin's ... I think I was thinking of Ina Garten ... I just made cinnamon rolls, so I blame it on the deliciousness.

HoneyWheeler

@Cavendish Congrats! I second the Ina May Garten books (esp Guide to...), whether or not a medication-free birth is something you're going for. I liked them for the positive birth stories and their non-fear mongering, matter of fact, "hey, you're going be fine!" attitudes. I like the Dr Sears Guide to Babies (or whatever it's called) for a general how-to for the first two years. Oh, and number one best book for any labor partner - Penny Simkin's The Birth Partner. My husband basically committed this book to memory, and he was a super amazing labor support partner. I was glad we didn't spend $1000 on a doula because he was all I needed. I also used the homestudy course of Hypnobabies, which I found really helpful. I mean, I didn't have a painless labor like some people claim to, but it helped me zone out a lot and keep calm.

makingtrouble

@drunkenbee oh boy what a nice thing to say. hearts hearts hearts.

Gwdihw

@Cavendish

I thoroughly enjoyed Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? by Jena Pincott; I heard an interview with the author on NPR and then found out later that week that I was pregnant! I'm 9 weeks along and have noticed that some pregnancy guidebooks are unnecessarily judgey.

And I just want to say to everyone that I am so glad to see that there are plenty of other mom 'Pinners. Being pregnant makes me feel all the more that I am so happy I found The Hairpin. This article and these comments have been wonderful!!!!

Valley Girl

@moonshine @Cavendish Congrats to you both!!!

To those of you who are grad student mommas or mommas-to-be, as an older than average undergrad sometimes I get really scared when I feel a little biological tick-tock. Just hearing that they don't have to be mutually exclusive really means a lot to me, so thanks. ~Curdled BFFship~

Cavendish

@heyits Thank you! What a lovely thing to say. :)

Cavendish

@drunkenbee And now I'm crying. That was so wonderful. Thanks, Sarah! I'm going to have to remember this.

I'm so happy to be a part of such a great community of women. I love you all, Hairpinners!

Rugs

@Cavendish - I have to say, I kind of hated The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy. She was sooooo obsessed with her weight and also soooo demeaning of her husband. Personally, I loved the Mayo Clinic Guide to Pregnancy. Totally practical, no judgement at all, describes every possible symptom and scenario and what to do about it.

scully

@Cavendish The Panic Free Pregnancy by Michael S Broder. It's like a hairpinner wrote it. Will totally dispell all irrational fears and treats you like an adult capable of evaluating data and making decisions.

Hey,Lookit!

After a YEAR of stupid lurking, I am logging in because I am so grateful for this post, Nicole. The judgers are so, so mean! And the worst part is the shame of having once been one!
Thank you hairpin for serving us ladies in all of our life-stages-- not just the single and sexytimes ones.

joie

Whatever works for you, Nicole, because ultimately it's your child and your body and fuck anyone who would try to make you feel bad for not doing it the way that is deemed THE BEST. Because what the best is consists of your baby being fed. That baby! So cute! The eyes. So adorbs.

Also, I had an absolute nightmare with breastfeeding. It was this dogpile of postpartum depression and cracked, bloody nipples and double mastitis. I ended up pumping exclusively for 3 months until my nipples were healed. It was so incredibly hard, and if I had to do it over again, I'm not sure if I would. Hang in there, lady!

Craftastrophies

@heyits My boss came in to visit with her baby the other day. We were discussing how it was going. Everyone there is either pregnant or a mother, except me and one other woman. My boss said 'yeah, my nipples are kind of messed up right now'. The other woman's jaw dropped. She had never even thought about it.

Personally, I sometimes get eczma on my nipples, which is so awesome I can't even, so praise be to nipple shields and pads.

Jon Custer

OK, I know nobody really wants a dude's take on natural childbirth, but here goes anyway: yes, "because evolution," but there is a reason why infant mortality was so high historically, and still is in developing countries... Before Evil Western Medicine, people kind of expected a large proportion of their breastfed, natural-birth babies (and their mothers) to, um, die. Natural birth and breastfeeding are great, but if those don't work out, having mommy & baby alive and healthy is still a pretty good outcome!

Das Rad

YES A THOUSAND TIMES.

I completely understand that at one time there was a need to push breastfeeding as best for a baby, after formula became the norm. But a very vocal minority has now gone off the deep end promoting dubious health benefits of breastfeeding and using bad science to do so. This bad science is now showing up in La Leche League books and Dr. Sears books. And the unintended consequence is that it is making alot of new mothers feel like failures when it doesn't work.

Mothers, tell me if this sounds familiar: Your baby has trouble latching, so you have to use the shields. Baby knocks off the shields while fussing because she can't get enough milk from you. You pump prior to feeding your baby to get things moving, and you pump after so you can supplement from a bottle later when your baby doesn't get enough from sucking on the shields. Your baby falls asleep 2 minutes after finally latching, because it is so much work for her. The entire ordeal takes over an hour, and you're supposed to do this every two hours, so back on the horse in a half hour. Also, one boob is out of commission because your kid sucked on it wrong and made it bleed for days.

Then, after your breakdown, you switch to formula. You feel shitty, but your baby gains weight and is fine.

This happened to my wife and I, and the more we discussed it, the more we found out that it happens to almost everybody, but no one talks about it for fear of being judged by the lactivists.

Fuck that noise. Fight back.

CrescentMelissa

@Das Rad THIS. Thanks so much for sharing, no one talks about it because there is so much judgement.

Bebe

@Das Rad My mom had my sister and me when formula was the norm (early 70s. I am old). She got retroactively judged by a neighbor who discovered that my sister and I (by then healthy, happy, thriving, grade schoolers) were bottle fed. My mom just pointed out that formula was what everyone told her was best then, so she did it, and it worked for her. The neighbor told her she just "got lucky." Like, the chances of a formula fed baby even surviving that dreadful ordeal of you know, eating, was miraculous.

Nutmeg

Yessss, I am so excited for this article! I was just having a discussion last night with my gentleman caller about how sometimes breastfeeding is just hard and/or not an option for some women, and he could not understand it at all ("But... evolution!").

cheeseandcrackers

@Nutmeg Oh man, that's just embarrassing. Wet nurses? High infant mortality rates? Testament from generations and generations of moms? Evolution my left buttock.

tea for all

@Nutmeg evolution = not a perfect system, bro.

Craftastrophies

@tea for all Evolution: dealing with many conflicting demands.

dham

This shit isn't even new: I've been reading 18th century commentary this week on how wet-nurses are the origins of all social ills, because the natural relationship between a mother and a child ensures morality and the social order itself.

I mean, whatever. I am sure I was bottle fed, I definitely grew up breathing infinite second hand smoke in a house with the windows closed, I basically lived off of hashbrown-sourcream-campbell's casserole, I drank soda instead of water for many formative years, and I seem to be a basically functioning human, so fuck everyone.

I think the saddest thing might be the women on that forum who insist their mental and physical health is worth less than their babies'.

Tricia

Oh, your post! Oh the agony of it all! I breastfed for 8 months and all my personal journals in that time were about pumping and pumping and never pumping enough and all the reading about the situation and the unhappiness of it all. There is not a single journal about how beautiful my little girl was (and is). How do they put us up to this kind of guilt?
My little girl is 21 months now, and was always very healthy and doesn't have asthma and obesity and all the horrors. I am expecting another baby next month and I think I will breastfeed for my 6 week maternity leave and just see how it goes this time, and hope that it goes swimmingly, and try to avoid the guilt. But what if she is a pudgy little thing? And what if I feel like it is all my fault because I didn't breastfeed for a year . . .
I encourage everyone to breastfeed - but as beneficial as breastfeeding may be, I think enjoying your baby is a higher priority.

CrescentMelissa

Dear Nicole: This happened with my first darling Sydney. She was so sleepy! She was not interested in the breast. I lasted a few weeks but it was MISERABLE to go to the doctor and be told that you are starving your daughter. I gave her the f**cking formula, and she is a sassy, brilliant 8 year old. My second, my superchamp born naturally on the side of the road, was a master breast feeder from the minute he srpung forth from my uterus. Go figure. He is four now and is no smarter then his sister. Gah, I was heartbroken about Sydney not being able to breastfeed, especially going to Music Together and seeing all these beautiful hippie mothers nursing so serenely and there I was with my poison bottle and can of formula. F them!

LeafySeaDragon

@CrescentMelissa i just wanted to pop in and say this, sometimes if i saw a bottle feeding mom with her hungry baby i would LITERALLY hurt, like my boobs would hurt and leak and i would just want to snatch that baby as she was making the bottle. no judgement, no thinking just OMG HORMONES! and sometimes it would make me and the said mom feel bad because she thought i was being judgey and i was hurt she thought that. and then i'd crrrryyyyyy. HORMONES! but i am sorry if anyone was being truly judgey at you!

CrescentMelissa

@LeafySeaDragon Oh babe! I am sure, ahem, they weren't (maybe? IDK). BUT! I was so so horribly sad at myself and this horrible fate that I was subjecting my non breast fed daughter too (obesity! asthma! big dummy at school!). I actually had this same thing when I was nursing my son (he nursed for 14th months!). I would hear any baby cry and I would literally start spraying. Also, as a side note, geez, some of these mothers you meet in new mom circles/music classes/starbucks are really for the birds, amirite?

LeafySeaDragon

@CrescentMelissa mommy socializing groups/baby classes are a level of HELL.

CrescentMelissa

@LeafySeaDragon TRUTH.

dokuchan

@CrescentMelissa OMG PLEASE can you write The Best Time I had A Baby On The Side Of The Road?

Because I would love to read that.

Rebecs

I once read an article about running. 2 men were discussing the theory that the physical pain of running a marathon is likely the closest they would ever get to experiencing childbirth. A woman overheard them and said that childbirth is nothing and that it is the breastfeeding that's the real bitch. I don't have kids but I will forever remember this as the best advice about parenting from a stranger.

beeline96

I think the only way a woman could be a failure as a mother (re: feeding) would be to willfully neglect and starve her baby.

Anyway, I was bottle-fed because I refused the boob (i was such a stubborn baby), and I turned out okay.

Goldenmole

I'm skulking out of the lurking closet for the first time, too, because I hate the idea of anybody feeling bad about not being The Breastfeeding Champion of the Universe. Whatever works best for you and YOUR baby is the best solution, isn't it? I couldn't breastfeed at all, but my kid turned out great anyway- 4.0 GPA and perfect health. She's not very helpful around the house, though... maybe THAT'S the longterm side effect of an all-formula diet in infancy?

Kneetoe

Nicole! If you are not going to start blaming everything on your kid now, when ARE YOU going to start. Spare the child etc.

Kneetoe

Also, I wasn't breast fed, and I turned out . . . . Oh, um, never mind.

Nicole Cliffe

You guys are so great, really. I was at a low ebb this morning because baby had a terrible nightmare at five am, and I picked her up, and I couldn't comfort her with my breasts because she's all "LOOK, I ONLY DO THAT TO MAKE YOU HAPPY, AND NOW I AM UPSET" so I had to give her a bottle, and I felt like The Worst. But now I don't.

CrescentMelissa

@Nicole Cliffe Never the worst Mama. You are truly THE BEST.

drunkenbee

@Nicole Cliffe Nicole. Nicole! We have to talk. After experiencing my own total breast feeding nightmare, I started an entire website to collect women's stories about Feeding Babies-- because realized how little information is really out there about all the (SO MANY DIFFERENT SO MANY WONDERFUL) ways we Feed Our Babies. I think you might like to read some of the stories-- b/c damn, ladies are getting it DONE, even from within the midst of all the awful ideological "breast is best" posturing. http://feedingthebaby.tumblr.com/about

Lisa_RedRowFarm

Nothing says motherhood like feeling like a failure. I'd say that part gets better, but I'd be lying.

CrescentMelissa

@Lisa_RedRowFarm I am always wrong, according to my 8 yrd old daughter.

Craftastrophies

@CrescentMelissa Are you ruining her life, yet? My friend's 8 yo is definitely having her life ruined at least once a week, she tells us.

Dusk

@CrescentMelissa Oh lord. I get that with my six year old son. It's like listening to a tiny, sturdy version of my mother... Who pees on the floor sometimes.

As an alternative view to successful breastfeeding, I made it to 8 months and gave up with a deep sense of relief. Not because I couldn't do it - no, I was super-nutrient-milk-woman - I just hated doing it.

DeDe Jacobs Komisar@facebook

I was all ready to breastfeed, and my boobs were ginormous and leaking, but the kid was not having it at all. I had back labor, meaning he was born facing up instead of down, and his tiny lil' face got all bruised up in the birth process. Yeah. So it hurt him to nurse. He'd get up against my nipple and then just start crying and crying (a Freudian field day). I went to two lactation consultants, to no avail. I gave him formula but was determined to keep pumping. Then I realized that each hour I was pumping meant an hour ignoring my kid or not getting sleep, so that was it. Oh well. He's a great kid and, at 2, seems to have thrived despite my horrible mothering. The end.

themegnapkin

Hannah Rosin had a wonderful article in the Atlantic in 2009: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/04/the-case-against-breast-feeding/7311/
I haven't read it lately, so what I remember (possibly inaccurate) is: (1) The benefits of breastfeeding are overrated. There may be some benefits, but we actually don't know for sure that these benefits are caused by breastfeeding itself. (2) The breastfeeding movement is a legit pushback against the formula industry, but it is now out of control. (3) Breastfeeding is only "free" if you assign no value to the mother's time.

themegnapkin

@themegnapkin Goodness gracious, I just re-read the article and the comments to the article. The article is essentially how I described it, the comments are nuts - a slightly toned-down version of the Mothering site. Oh brave new world.

Lisa_RedRowFarm

@themegnapkin Can I admit that i hated that article? Confession, I was a breastfeeder. That being said, I think this essay much more effectively portrays the difficulty and pressure to breastfeed than Rosin's. She just came across as "I made a decision and people are judging me so now I'm judging the people who are judging me right back." Boobs and bottles can get along. We only make it a mommy war when we pretend they can't, usually because we feel shitty about our own choices and not the actual judgement of others that we're reigning against.

themegnapkin

@Lisa_RedRowFarm Sure! I agree Rosin's article feeds into the mommy war. I thought her most interesting point, and not one I think the BF hardliners address adequately, is about the gender dynamics, which Rosin gets into towards the very end. That for all its (real or imagined) benefits, breastfeeding is also a cost that falls disproportionately harder on the mother than it does on the father, and it creates a dynamic - even in marriages that the participants consider to be equal partnerships - that can lead to the mother compromising her personal goals in favor of motherhood and the father's ability to pursue his goals.

moonshine

@themegnapkin "Breastfeeding is only "free" if you assign no value to the mother's time" THANK YOU.

Lisa_RedRowFarm

@themegnapkin but that oversimplifies it. Honestly, it took me longer to heat up milk, bottle feed the baby and clean the bottle than it did breastfeed. Sure, it disproportionately fell to me, but most of the time bottle feeding/cleaning would too in many hetronormative arangments. And my husband stayed home with the baby when I went back to work (which yes, meant I lost almost two hours a day to pumping/cleaning the pump), so otherwise the gender inequity was largely reversed in my scenario. What it all comes down to is having babies is hard. Breast or bottle, cloth or disposable diaper, co-sleeping or feberizing. Someone has to do something and that feels unfair. Just you feel guilty because it's your kid and not just fighting over who unloaded the dishwasher last.

themegnapkin

@Lisa_RedRowFarm First, as I said above, I don't have kids. I don't feel like I have an entrenched position except that I tend to be irritated by people who take a hardline on anything. On this topic, I see breastfeeding hardliners, but I don't see non-BF hardliners - at most, bottle-feeders seem to be pleading with the BFers not to judge them.
Yes, I (rather, Rosin) oversimplify it, breastfeeding =/= woman taking backseat to man. But you also say "Sure, [feeding the baby] disproportionately fell to me, but most of the time bottle feeding/cleaning would too in many heteronormative arrangements." I'm not comfortable with this being the default. I'm not arguing that a woman who wants to BF shouldn't, I'm arguing that it's a legit choice for a couple to decide to split feeding tasks equally b/t H&W -- which likely means either no BF, or BF + formula.
It sounds like you & your H have an awesome arrangement.

Bebe

This is why I think all new mothers need a friend who likes babies, but is childfree by choice. Because those of us who have chosen not to have children know next to nothing about all this, so we are all like, "Oh, you're gonna breastfeed. That's cool. You wanna pump so we can have some wine?" and "Oh, you changed to formula? That's cool. Wanna have some wine?"

mczz

@Bebe haha I'm so like this. I always feel so bad for all my mama friends because of this stuff and do my best to create a supportive and non-judgmental zone for whatever it is that parents do.

Bebe

@mczz There's soooo much judgemental crap, and they're all so hard on themselves! I feel like it is totally my job to be the "safe space" for them to either gush or complain, depending on how they are feeling that day. The only advice I ever offer is to let me come and just hold the baby so they can nap/shower/eat/take a walk/whatever they need to do for themselves. And, of course, that if they drink their wine from a sippy cup, it won't spill if the baby is squirmy.

Craftastrophies

@Bebe This is me. I see myself as having a very useful social role. I will take your screaming teething baby to the other side of the house while you have a quick cry and shower, or you can come over to my baby-free house and we can talk about how hard it is, or not talk about babies at all! And when someone asks you if you should be having wine, in your condition, I will give them daggers and maybe a talking to.

Bebe

@Craftastrophies Yes! I should also add that, in addition to pouring the wine and holding the baby, I will also reply to all stories about the new mom getting judged by someone with "What? He/She is just an ass. Whatever. You're awesome at being a mom. Fuck him/her. More wine?"

packedsuitcase

@Bebe Yep. This is me to a T. "Your mommy friend judged you for what? What an ass. Here, your glass is only half full. Have more wine."

Craftastrophies

@packedsuitcase "OMG, I can't believe she said that out LOUD, who SAYS that! What a bitch. She's probably just projecting, because she's miserable. Here, let me top up your glass."

laurel

God, Hairpin, why can't you ever post stories on society's insidious expectations about women’s behavior?

redheaded&crazy

@laurel I think I see what Nicole did here!

elm
elm

Totally off-topic with breast feeding, but totally on topic re rearing little babies, my grandmother told me that she had all of her children potty trained by age 3 months. I said, "Heh. You must have spent a long time in the bathroom holding their little butts on the potty chair."
And breastfeeding is hard.

CrescentMelissa

@elm yes but also, they didn't have disposables, so they were stuck washing out all those diapers, of course babies were forced into potty training early. It is pretty common to do this in other countries also where it isn't economically viable to use disposables. Another reason for new mothers to feel guilty, all the trash we are creating! And you will always meet a mother in your baby yoga class that uses cloth and wears her kid and never uses a stroller and co sleeps and is just a much better person then you.

Megasus

I don't even know anything about babies, and even I know that sometimes breastfeeding doesn't work out the way you expect it to, and you do what you have to to make sure your baby gets the nutrition it needs. And people who get judgey about it kind of suck. Your baby is happy and healthy, that's really all that matters!

cheeseandcrackers

This is why I have a strict YOU ARE DOING REALLY WELL policy when I go to visit my friends who are moms. Some of them breastfeed, some supplement, and none of them are Hitlerian monsters bent on destroying their child's future good health.

Acertainromance

My mum never even tried to breastfeed me, as it hadn't worked out with my older sister and had actually just resulted in a lot of pain/stress. I was on formula since day one, and I write this now as someone who has never had serious health issues of any kind, has never suffered depression, and is at a seriously academic university, which I like to think suggests I'm not stupid? Anyway, this is just my personal experience, but it's important to know that despite all the terrifying (irresponsible) statistics and NaziMothers online, sometimes breastfeeding just doesn't work... and everything else works out fine. I think a mum who's not killing herself over milk is probably the better mum. Just a thought.

automaticdoor

I won't ever be able to breastfeed because if I have kids, I'll have to go right back on all my meds immediately after birth. So, lactivists can just fuck right off. You do what works for you and your baby. ♥

Yikes

Coming out of lurkerdom to say yay Nicole! You are a great mother, and your baby is adorable!

Although I'm not sure I'm entirely grateful to you for pointing out that mothering thread. There are some horrifying people on there, but I can't stop reading it! The one who says if you think you won't breastfeed, you shouldn't be allowed children!

I've never understood the "if you don't breastfeed, your baby will be sickly, stunted and stupid" argument, because surely everyone knows people who were adopted/who were babies in the days formula was de rigueur/whose parents chose to breastfeed because it was easier who are clever, funny, beautiful and healthy, and people who were bottlefed (like me!) who have health problems. Maybe those others are anomalies, or should have been even more fabulous?

Shannon Conover

I'm not a mother, but I like to play this game called Ask Me About My Uterus, Marital Status, or Lack Thereof, and I Will Punch You In The Face. It's a super fun game! You should definitely play whenever anyone tries to make you feel about having trouble breastfeeding. Even if you were not doing it by choice or had other obligations like work (which would be FINE, the same way that daycare has unexpected benefits) it would really douchey of other people to try and comment on how you're raising YOUR kid. But it's doubly awful that you've tried and had trouble and people are still assholes. Obviously you love your baby and are doing the best you can, and that's all that matters.Face-punchings for everyone!

EpWs

@Shannon Conover I like this game! I will be saving this game for when the boy and I get married and start getting the "When are you two having kids?" question. (Answer up until now: never. New answer: FACE PUNCH.) Many thanks.

packedsuitcase

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher It's a great game. I used to play it with "So when are you getting married?" I'll tell you what, cheerfully announcing to your boyfriend's extended family that you don't intend to buy the cow when you're getting the milk for free will ensure you never get asked that question again. Ever.

Alixana

I was born with a cleft palate and couldn't handle either the boob OR the bottle, so I was spoon-fed from the very beginning with formula and the help of a lovely woman from the March of Dimes. And I turned out marvelously, if I do say so myself!

Faintly Macabre

Aaahhh Nicole are you secretly a time-accelerated version of my cousin? She has a 2-month-old adorable baby, had trouble breastfeeding (she now uses formula), and has the exact same green thing for the baby! (Though her dog thinks it's a fancy dog bed that some furless creature keeps using.)

boxwino

Hell yeah breastfeeding is hard! and I say that a a "successful" bf'er. I wish that the information presented to new moms was a little more honest than it is, like that there is a learning curve for both of you and it might be uncomfortable and stuff. We can take it! This idea that it will be totally easy and natural is unhelpful. I tried to express this at my last WIC appointment and the lady. would. not. get. it.

AniaGosia

Can I post some latching-on advice, just in case anyone needs it? Ok, here goes: your little newborn's jaw isn't strong enough to really milk your nipples at first, so it helps to squeeze your nip flat into a triangle (like a piece of pizza) and hold it in their mouth while they nurse. This advice from a dear friend literally changed my life as a new Mama and stopped so much nipple pain!

Shannon Conover

Also, I was breast-fed and was asthmatic for most of my teenage years, and am kind of chubby. So, it'll be fine either way.

@CrescentMelissa, this is off-topic, but co-sleeps? I assume this means like, with the baby in your bed?? I am not trying to be a jerk, but how? What if the baby falls out? WHAT IF YOU ROLL ON THE BABY AND CRUSH IT?

sparrow303

@Shannon Conover Yeah, my mama hated breastfeeding and quit after like a month, and I'm fine. My brother is fine. We are not a manatee. We are fine. Nicole's adorable baby is also fine!

AniaGosia

@Shannon Conover I think that's a legitimate concern, but it's not super likely to happen unless you go to bed drunk/high/on heavy medication with your baby. Of course, it depends on how heavy of a sleeper you are too, etc. I've been co-sleeping with my baby since he was born (in March last year) and I never crushed him or rolled over on him. I always seem to be totally aware of him when asleep. The real problem is that now he won't sleep alone in his crib and I kind of want my bed back. So I don't know what we're going to do. I feel like I should have trained him to sleep by himself before he could sit up - now if I put him down in his crib, he stands up and cries. It is super cozy though and I love the extra cuddling time, especially now that he's constantly on the move when awake. And it spared me a LOT of lost sleep when he was nursing every couple of hours as a tiny guy. I never really experienced that super exhausted thing because he was always right there next to me when he wanted to nurse and I didn't have to get out of bed at night.

HoneyWheeler

Yeah, co-sleeping can be great, especially if you're nursing so you don't have to keep getting up. You have to take safety precautions - no pillow top mattress, no blankets, no sleep apnea/drinking/smoking etc. We did it for the first 6 months, then switched our kid to his own room when I realized that both the baby and I seemed to sleep better if we were apart. You never realize how LOUD the rustling of the sheets as you pull them over you is until you share a room with an infant.

@AniaGosia Of course, many of the ladies over on Mothering (a site which, I must admit, I read and find occasionally very useful but mostly read because I'm fascinated by back to the land types) would look at you blankly and ask why you'd even consider moving your baby to a crib (which everyone knows is just another word for a CAGE). "Oh we love our family bed where our 8 year old and 5 year old and 2 year old and now infant sleep with us! All one happy family on this king size bed although sometimes now my husband sleeps on the pull out couch in the living room. And, giggle giggle, we have a spare futon mattress in the closet under the stair that we sometimes use as our secret sex spot when the kids are off at their Waldorf-approved knitting class."

bocadelperro

@AniaGosia When I was living in AZ, where co-sleeping is apparently common among latin and native families (I dunno, I'm half cuban and I'm pretty sure I always slept in a crib), there was a huge push to get kids into cribs because the danger of rolling over on the baby or the baby getting strangled in the bedclothes is actually kind of a big deal, according to some studies. However, I'm not a parent, but I can see the advantages as well--I'd think being close to your baby at night would not only help with bonding but also with being able to monitor him/her. I think if I ever have a kid, I might get one of those co-sleeper bed deals, which sound like a nice compromise. A friend of mine had one and loved it http://www.amazon.com/Arms-Reach-Mini-Co-Sleeper-Bassinet/dp/B000HKY1GM

Nicole Cliffe

We have this! It's great. And I attached to the bed while still pregnant and used it as a bedside table, like a boss.

mayfly

Oh man, I'm not a parent, but I still think breastfeeding policers are the worst. I once overheard this hippie doula disdainfully telling her friend about a client of hers who claimed she couldn't breastfeed but obviously she just wasn't trying hard enough because it's like, the most natural, beautiful thing in the world.

Sometimes I find those crunchy birth-is-so-spiritual types weirdly similar to family-values conservatives- they both seem to think that women should completely subsume themselves in motherhood, and if you don't find it the most natural, wonderful, fulfilling experience of your life that totally completes you as a person, there's something wrong with you. God forbid you struggle with breastfeeding, or don't make your own organic macrobiotic baby food, or put your kid in daycare! You're clearly a defective woman and mother and should go pray to Jesus/Gaia to fix your terrible child-destroying ways.

bocadelperro

@mayfly Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. I grew up among them (my mother is a German Hippie, although not of the pushy variety, and I'm from the SF Bay area), and upon moving to the US south for college, I discovered that it's almost the same judgey-smug-superior-gossipy shit that goes down in Evangelical circles. The only differences I could see were the accents, the level of support undergarments and the things they chose to judge about.

theepiccek

that picture omggggg. I have no personal experiance with it, but whenever I see all the super intense BREAST IS BEST people online I get all eye-twitchy. like yeah, it is, but it's also hard and not for everyone and no matter what you choose, so long as you aren't like, STARVING your baby, you made the right choice!

especially when your baby turns out that cute!

Megan@twitter

I was formula fed and I have anxiety. It's not because my mother didn't breastfeed me. It's because she raised me for 18 years and she's an f-ing nutcase.

Cute kid, Nicole.

Mary-Lynn Bragg@twitter

I don't have babies, so I don't know much about them, but what I do know about is how messed up grown up people can be because of how they were treated as babies and it has very little to do with what they ate. I mean, sure, you can drop a baby or don't feed it or whatever but mostly you're going to make good choices and they are going to be physically JUST FINE. But you can super mess them up psychologically and that's much harder to fix. You know what the best way to avoid doing that is? If you yourself aren't messed up! If you're happy and a positive person and attentive and loving? And if you are (and it sounds like you are Nicole) then that's the kind of baby you're going to have. Driving yourself into misery to try to breast feed when there are perfectly fine alternatives is no good for anyone, baby included. I'd rather see people focus on that - enjoying their baby and the time they spend with them - than trying to make it fit some notion of what "perfect" motherhood is that just makes everyone miserable. Don't do it for your baby! Do it for the people who have to interact with the adult that baby is going become!

Phantom Scribbler@twitter

I have two super-mega awesome genius kids. One was supplemented; the other was exclusively breastfed. They are both equally super-mega awesome geniuses. Guess which one has asthma? Right. The exclusively breastfed one. Because what's statistically significant at the population level means bupkes on an individual level.

Kisses from teh internets to your super-mega awesome genius adorable film critic baby, who is lucky to have such a kick-ass, caring mom.

EHarmony

I didn't make enough. It was dark to day the least. Thanks for putting this out there, because while breast is obviously best, formula is second best, goddamn it. Also, in traditional cultures your neighbors or family would have pitched in to feed her. Also, it's nobody's business. How dare those harpies judge you. I actually felt I would not fully be her mother if I failed to breastfeed. That is pathetic and I fully blame breastfeeding propaganda for brainwashing me.

Don'tcallmeJenny

Nicole, I'm generally a lurker in the comments, but I just wanted to assure you that every single parent feels that they have failed their child nearly every single day. Seriously. Today I cursed in front of my daughter because some guy cut me off and I had visions of her in juvie all teary eyed to the court ordered therapist about how my sailor mouth turned her into a delinquent. Its a sign of what a great mom you are that you actually care about this to the point of freaking out. And as an adopted kid I'll tell you that as far as I can tell formula never did me any harm.

southwer

@Don'tcallmeJenny yup, one of my 16 month old twins repeated me the other day when I cursed in front of her. whoops! it was actually kind of adorable, she toddled off on her fat little legs and said "shiiit."

EpWs

@southwer Ummmmmm, so can we talk about how kids cursing is maybe the funniest thing ever?

sparrow303

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I was a curly-haired, blue-eyed toddler who proudly declared "son of a bitch!" to all and sundry for a month straight. My poor mother was too embarrassed to take me out of the house for weeks.

EpWs

@fishiefishfish Fantastic, I love it. I would have taken you out EVERYWHERE. This is maybe another reason I shouldn't have kids?

Dusk

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I am here to say that "just ignore it" doesn't always work. On the other hand, a 2 year old can have the body language down pat when he says "Fuuuck."

I'm totally getting all the bad parent stuff out of the way early, right? RIGHT??

Gilgongo

a) Your baby is ADORABLE! b) I had the opposite problem. I made a TON, but after a couple of bad latches... the sores & bruises made it SO PAINFUL. I would breastfeed & sob at the same time. I saw 3 lactation consultants who would get me comfortably feeding after 2 hours, but that initial latch was SO PAINFUL! I started seeing my baby as a little monster who wanted to feed 24/7 and cause me pain. I gave up after 2 weeks and ended up exclusively pumping for 8 months and then supplementing. The pumping was also incredibly painful. Ugh. I'm so jealous of all the "I just LOVE breastfeeding!" moms and I'd planned on being one of those "I breastfed until she was 2/3!". But what can you do?

amandadayle

The judging is not fair to families made by adoption. But maybe the judges are against that too, since it's not "natural." My anecdata is that I'm adopted and have never drank ANY lady milk, ONLY formula. But I only have one graduate degree, so you know, a formula dummy.

Nicole Cliffe

For the record, the consensus at Mothering is that adopting a baby/toddler is no excuse not to breastfeed, hence the off-label mail order drugs and the 24/7 pumping.

EpWs

@Nicole Cliffe THE HELL YOU SAY?

Texian

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Sadly, yes. I nursed both kids an inordinate number of months and that makes me go Ewwwww in an unpleasant way. THAT I cant even. Formula is perfectly fine in that situation, ya militant freaks!

area@twitter

@Nicole Cliffe what the fuck I can't even?!

Megoon

@amandadayle @Nicole Cliffe I assume you read Bossypants? I love love loved that part where Tina Fey talks about baby formula and countering the Teat Nazis with Adoptive Mommies (bigger sacrifice... cannot compute...). Although this development re: nursing adopted children is troubling in this regard.

EpWs

@Shannon Conover I like this game! I will be saving this game for when the boy and I get married and start getting the "When are you two having kids?" question. (Answer up until now: never. New answer: FACE PUNCH.) Many thanks.

Party Falcon

@Craftastrophies Pregnancy, motherhood, humanhood, our bodies will always disappoint us, no matter how we care for them, no matter what we need from them. If not today, one day. And all we can do is accept and move on. Fuckers.

(Further mangling your ideal of the Party Falcon. Party Falcon has lupus and she knows from body betrayal.)

EpWs

@Party Falcon Party Falcon is deep. I am sorry about her lupus.

Craftastrophies

@Party Falcon I am also sorry about lupus. In general and in particular.

I very strongly feel that shame and guilt at 'failure' is the opposite of helpful. Even if you HAVE really failed, it's still not helpful. It just gets you caught up in a reality that will never be, instead of dealing with this one well.

iceberg

Well probably it's too late for anyone to read this but just thought about another thing. Some of us have our babies too premature, and those babies cannot breastfeed because they are too undeveloped. They literally aren't able to coordinate the actions needed to feed and have to be fed via tubes. They can't wait for your milk to come in, which if only pumping, takes a couple days, and they have a better chance of survival by being fed special high-calorie formulas that help them grow and develop quickly. No doubt these Motherhood nutjobs would prefer we let such babies die rather than give them formula so they can survive.

Not to mention mothers who have to take medication that precludes breastfeeding, mothers who've had double mastectomies or otherwise don't have the necessary body parts, or widower/single fathers FFS!!!

Anji

@iceberg Great point! I wonder if any of these women who are so adamant that breastfeeding is THE ONLY WAY AND YOU ARE AWFUL IF YOU DON'T DO IT have even thought about that.

...probably not.

Mary Connor

For a historical perspective on we-know-what's best-for-women extravaganza, check out The Group by Mary McCarthy, which takes place in the 1930s. In one grueling chapter, Priss Hartshorn is forced by her pediatrician husband to breastfeed her baby on a strict schedule because breastfeeding is the newest thing and he's trying to make a name for himself. Meanwhile, she has to listen to her baby scream because he's hungry and not getting enough from breast milk alone. When she finally starts supplementing with a bottle, she is judged and made to feel like a failure. I've reread that book a bunch of times, but I always skip over that chapter because it's too brutal.

saywhatnow?

Breastfeeding be hard y'all! My son was born tounge-tied and NO ONE AT THE HOSPITAL NOTICED! Something like a hundred (ok it just felt that way) lactation consultants came in and tried to squish and squash my boobs every which way to make him latch (WHICH HE PHYSICALLY COULD NOT.)
I was FIERCELY PRO-BREASTFEEDING and when then insisted he needed formula, just to LEAVE the hospital, I wigged out. Thankfully they brought me a breast pump also and that is how we made it through the first two years. We did have to supplement for a short while and I felt like a terrible mother but I believe you have to do whatever you can so your kid can SURVIVE. I pumped enough breastmilk, (LOL I pumped everywhere and anywhere) to get him to two years so I feel ok about it in the end. But, I was devastated when it didn't just work naturally like I had been led to believe it would.

Princess Gigglyfart

Ugh the breastmilk army at mothering.com can really be horrible. There's a wealth of information there, but I want to kick some of those judgey judgertons in the tit.

IGNORE, IGNORE, IGNORE. Smile and nod if it's someone you have to get along with, or tell them to fuck off if you feel like it. Just make whatever choice you need to to keep yourself sane- it's the best thing you can do for your kid. You already know that.

tmsteele2000

Sure, breastmilk is healthiest, but those ladies at mothering.com seem to think it is the single most important thing you will ever do in the course of raising your child. For the record, my mom stopped breastfeeding me after 6 weeks because she found it "embarrassing". Whatever. I have a high IQ. I have a kickass immune system and rarely get sick.

Also, this is great: Mompetitors

Megoon

@tmsteele2000 I was breastfed, as my mother enjoys frequently pointing out, but my best friend wasn't. Best friend got into way more colleges than I did. Point for formula.

OlivettiValentine

As someone who has to call the pediatrician's office today to set up a weight-check appointment for my 6 mo old exclusively breast-fed son who is not gaining well, thank you for this post. I spend half my day worry about how much he is getting to eat and the other half trying to get him to eat. Not to mention the mastitis, the blocked ducts, the cracked nipples, the elimination diets due to suspected allergies, and on and on. I look at my friends' fat little formula fed buddha babies and am mystified at the fact that somehow I feel like I am failing despite my constant efforts to keep breastfeeding at great costs to my own sanity and possibly my son's health. You are obviously a great mom, Nicole. And when the day comes that I mix up that first bottle of formula (as it is surely coming) I will think of you, and what a great mom you are, and that I am keeping company with you.

mc coolfriend

I wouldn't breastfeed b/c I saw an episode of Law and Order where a baby died from drinking the breastmilk of it's oxycodone addicted mother, and you know, epidural and the percocet they give you following childbirth. And the nurses and OB were all "it won't pass through to her, this one prescription will be fine" and I was all "THAT'S NOT WHAT JERRY ORBACH SAID. IF YOU WERE HARD BOILED AND SINCERE LIKE HIM AND NOT A LIAR YOU'D BE CALMING ME DOWN WITH A WISECRACK RIGHT NOW" and I'm still not convinced they were right and I was wrong. Well, I'm mostly not convinced b/c I made enough of a stand on it that's it's like I can't back down now no matter what the evidence suggests, but I guess my point is, breast feeding has very little to do with how well/how much you love and care for your baby.

Heidi

Yeah, it's not easy!

My baby is just a little older than Nicole's. We're still breastfeeding, and I've been cursed with an oversupply. Which, yes, actually is a thing that's a problem even though it sounds like I'm just bitchily turning a blessing into a problem. But, no, for real, there is pain, and is the baby getting any hindmilk, and why is his poop green (for real) and...etc.

Also, it HURTS. People don't tell you this, but it hurts so much. And not just at the beginning. Not always, but often enough. The biting, the pulling, the little nails grabbing into your breast, the pumping (if you work) etc. And it takes so much time, at all hours. The baby now sleeps well, thank god finally, but he still wakes up at 6am. And I have to be the one to get him up, because if he gets a bottle that means I have to pump another bottle and pumping is evil incarnate. And he wakes once in the night, most nights, so even though he's a "good sleeper" I haven't slept past 6am in 7 months. And I've only had 3 nights -- 3!--in the last 7 months where I didn't get out of my bed at least once to feed him. And I'm supposed to go on a trip for work in two months. An incredible opportunity. But, can I leave my nursling? If I do, when will I pump?

You might ask, why don't you just stop the craziness? Stop the constant worry about when to pump next, when to nurse next, is he eating enough? Because of the crazy people who make me think that would be a failure. Because these H cup nursing boobs should be good for something. Because engorgement hurts too. Because I had a c-section instead of the natural birth I wanted and GODDAMNIT SOMETHING IS GOING TO GO RIGHT WITH THIS THING.

And because he's only ever gotten nutrition that passed through my body first. And that's kinda rad. But you know what? It's hard.

BadWolf

Oh no! I bet no one is even reading this any more; I was too hypnotized by teh rampant dramz yesterday to even notice it then.

But! Aww. Nicole, your baby is ridiculous cute! And really, the only other thing I can say is, I was my mom's first baby, and she could not figure out the whole breastfeeding jazz, and so I was formula-fed from almost the very, very beginning. And I turned out okay! No more fucked up than anyone else. She got it to work with my little brother, and he never had formula ever. And he is also fine! Neither of us turned out a juvenile delinquent, and both of us are in grad school. Everything will be okay, is my point. Breastfeeding is freakin' hard! If it were actually easy and uncomplicated, we wouldn't have LLL ladies feeling unnecessarily superior all over the place. Baby is happy and healthy = fuck everyone else.

armadillo12

I'm not a mother and, at 21, probably at least a decade off from being one--but the comment thread at that mommy website made me so rage-y. Some people need an excuse to feel superior in every context.

momtoo

What a great post, thank you! So similar to our situation . . . latching well, milk "slow to come in," losing weight, then jaundice and back to the hospital, then not gaining weight, crying next to my tiny baby worried I was depriving him of IQ points, lots of tests and finding abnormal hormones that caused a low supply . . . and then using that damn supplemental feeding tube and pumping after every feed (including in the middle of the night!) for a MONTH. And in that sleep-deprived state, surrounded by pumps and tubes and formula and, yes, that off-label medication, reading those horrible posts about "not trying hard enough" and how "just one bottle" would ruin my baby. Who are those people?? (and why did I care what they said? I was so tired)

It has gotten so much easier. No stupid little tube. No pumping at night (never doing that again). I still make about 20 ounces a day (no longer on the off-label drug, which it turned out didn't really help). Our chubby little 6-month baby happily takes the breastmilk from me or from the bottle, loves the extra formula too, and flaps his arms enthusiastically with the new solids we give him. Oh, it's all so great! But not remotely perfect. And that's fine.

There's a mysterious strain of crazy breastfeeding advocacy, which tends to happen more in books and blog comments than in person-to-person contact, that we all should work to ignore and diminish. Most people have been wonderfully supportive about the breastfeeding challenges. My parents, sisters, mother-in-law, friends, colleagues, and even acquaintances, all reassured and supported me through those first agonizing weeks. Our family is full of tremendously healthy and successful people who were formula fed. And the respectable science (e.g., a Princeton neuroscientist) shows that the "breastmilk makes you smarter" thing is a bunch of hooey.

My husband is convinced there are superpowers lurking in formula. Superbaby on his way.

Thanks for your post.

Rugs

@Cavendish - I have to say, I kind of hated The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy. She was sooooo obsessed with her weight and also soooo demeaning of her husband. Personally, I loved the Mayo Clinic Guide to Pregnancy. Totally practical, no judgement at all, describes every possible symptom and scenario and what to do about it.

jennyo

Nicole, your baby is hilariously cute. Congratulations! Also let me add my voice/anecdata to the chorus -- so many ways to feel judged, ugh, and so many actual ways to cope which are not in the books or on the crazy forums. I breastfed both my kids, mostly very easily with the 1st one, less so with the 2nd but still basically okay. This was, you know, mostly luck. (Just to confuse the natural motherhood patrol, I also had 2 emergency c-sections. Also chance!) But seriously, the best thing about breastfeeding (ssh) was the time to read (and watch Deadwood). I think it's totally possible that neither of my kids were actually getting optimum nutrition via my boobs, esp bc the older kid shot up in height and weight once she started eating lots of solid food. The younger one seriously weaned herself overnight at 17 months, like one day she realized "this is a CRAZY way to get liquid, ugh, lady, get that out of my face." This is just to reinforce (WORDILY, sorry) what everyone else has said, and also: parenting is all about unexpected discoveries about what you can do, and what is hard. This is just the first one, but bc it comes with sooo many hormones as well as crazy people who will tell you what to do, it's especially stressful. Be nice to yourself, everyone!

missB

This topic means so much to me that I created a Hairpin sign-in just to comment. I'm not a parent; my only experience in breastfeeding is being a labor & delivery nurse for 8 years and a lactation counselor. My L&D job isn't always the happyhappy joyjoy job that people assume it is; it has its low moments. You know what one of my biggest most dreaded moments in a delivery is?

That first attempt at breastfeeding. Seriously. Anecdotally, I can tell you that maybe two babies in ten just hop right on and latch perfectly. The tension in the air is palpable, and you can feel the panic rise with every second. The baby's been at the nipple for all of thirty seconds and I hear

"Whydoesn'thewantit?WhatamIdoingwrong?Doesn'thewantit?Isn'thehungry?What'swrongwithhim?What'swrongwithme?CanIhaveapumpnow?Maybeit'stheBoppy?Iknewmynippleswereflat! Honey,didn'tItellyouthiswasn'tgoingtowork?!ForgetitI'lltrylater."

Sometimes they do try later. Sometimes they don't. THey get discharged in two or three days and then all manner of hell breaks loose. The pressure to breastfeed is astonishing. It used to be all mothers had to hear was endless prattle from their own mothers, aunts and friends; now they've got dozens of online forums to chide them and make them feel like failures. It's insane. If mothers keep judging the everloving crap out of each other this way there's going to be a massive breastfeeding backlash that will cause breastfeeding rates to plummet like they did in the 30's. Look, breast milk is awesome, and if you can do it, great. If you can't, then reach for the formula. Kid needs feeding. There is no shame in feeding your baby (unless you're putting Cheetos in a blender and making them drink it. That would be bad.)

Women need to tune out the neurosis and the harsh judgement.

forensicRN

I too embraced LLL 25 years ago. Went to meetings before my daughter's birth and read every book possible on pregnancy, delivery, et al. Unfortunately, my child decided her birthday would be 8 weeks earlier than EDC, I was put on bedrest x 3 weeks and she still was born 5 weeks premature. Her birth weight was 6 lb 8 oz. I did everything I could to get her to nurse. I even went so far as to get the tubing in attempt to get her to nurse, an electric pump (heavy duty machine) and still no luck. It certainly didn't help that her birth father insisted on the nursing. She ended up in hospital after being home for four days with severe jaundice. I cried for days while I watched her with tiny eye patches on her tiny face, under the lamps to bring her bilirubin down. I'm still scarred by that experience. I felt like a failure and even though she was just fine after I gave up on the breastfeeding and she was on formula for the following year. I feel like I missed out on a very important bonding experience.

elizapixel

Just wanted to add to the gazillion comments - I had similar experience, and it feels like total shit. There is a serious serious problem with all the new baby/ new mama idealization projected fantasyland that makes us all crazy and depressed. Being pregnant, although big-picture awesome, is not fun for most people most of the time. Breastfeeding is torturous a lot of the time for a lot of people. Being a new mom, or an old mom, although big picture amazing, is often really hard and tiring. All of this would be so much easier if people were not fed tons of BS to expect Bliss, and then feel something's wrong with them when it is not bliss.

Marylyle McCue@twitter

This article made my heart twinge. I went through so many of the same things and it was anguish! Nurse, pump, supplement, repeat - constantly day after day for weeks. If I hadn't had such a supportive husband I may have quit altogether. Now I'm taking the "weird" non-FDA approved drug, Domperidone, and it is freaking awesome. I hardly have to give my four month old supplements at all anymore. Breastfeeding is hard work and most of us have little if any real support. It sounds like you are doing great, many people were never breastfed even a little and turned out perfectly fine. In other words, breast may be best, but keeping your child alive and healthy period is more important. Good luck.

dontannoyme

ditto to all of the above. Seriously. it was so hard and I thought it would be easy because I'm totally middle class and into that sort of thing...Please, breastfeeding campaigners, start telling people they might be hard so that they don't think it's their fault because they are just not trying hard enough. BTW just reading the biography of Dickens right now. His wife couldn't breastfeed either (presumably hence the ten children - no semi-reliable breastfeeding contraception). So these problems are not the result of demonic formula companies brainwashing us into forgetting our natural instincts. BF has always been hard, it seems. Good luck to all who give it a go - I persevered and got there in the end but it was bloody tough.

Cassy

I registered an account today so I could post here. My mom breastfed both me and my brother, me until I was about a year old and my brother until he was 8 months or so (at which point he weaned himself). No formula ever as far as I know. I was never intending to be a "granola mom" but I planned on breastfeeding exclusively; however, I was woefully underinformed about what breastfeeding is actually like before I had my kid in October 2010. We couldn't get him to latch for shit in the hospital, despite many helpful (and unhelpful) lactation assistants - the best person we actually had was actually the deafness tester lady, who was in training for La Leche League and said something about "you know, I'd love for you to breastfeed him, but honestly it's more important that you be happy as a mother, and if it's not working, it's not working."

When we got him home, with a few sample 2-oz bottles of Similac from the hospital, we tried, and tried, and it hurt like hell and he wouldn't latch. We gave him a Similac to get him to feed and to give my nipples a break. He chugged it and went happily to sleep. We ran out of the samples. I didn't want to buy any more, I felt so guilty. My husband came home from work with some more. I fought it and fought it and I tried pumping and just feeding him the pumped milk but he ate more and more formula and one night about 5 weeks in I was trying to feed him and it hurt so bad that I was screaming in pain and that's the point when my husband said "No more. I don't care. We are not doing this anymore. Formula will not kill him." And I cried and cried, and then I gave up. And it didn't hurt him, and he's a healthy, happy, slightly big-for-his age little stinker and he's the best kid anyone could ever ask for. I figure considering we spent all that money on a pump I'll give it another shot if we have another kid, but that shit was not worth it.

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