My Milkshake Turns The Yard Into A Barren And Defeated Wasteland

Second babies have a big advantage in that parents have nine months to obsess over all of the mistakes they made with the first baby and develop a well-formed plan to ensure they don't screw it up like they did the first one.

One of the 67 things I have on my list of "Things Not To Screw Up With The Next Baby" is breastfeeding. I really had no idea what to expect when I tried to breastfeed Ellie and my pathetic attempts went down in a titty twisting blaze of glory.

So in preparation for Baby #2 I decided to burn a mulligan and re-took the hospital's breastfeeding class over the weekend. This time I came prepared with a list of real-life questions, case studies and character witnesses.

After the teacher finished reviewing the basics and showing a commie propaganda video of happy moms sitting in a circle talking about how wonderful breastfeeding is and how people who don't breastfeed are horrible parents who will spend eternity being licked by flames from Satan's tongue, she asked if there were any questions.

I glanced around the room at all of the other first-time Moms sitting blissfully unaware of the unimaginable frustration that awaited them and nare a hand was raised.

Of course there wasn't. She had just painted a picture that made it seem like magical fairies fly through your window and place your perfectly formed nipple into your baby's smiling mouth and then laugh and cheer you on as they press the 'dispense' button on the side of your tit.

Me: Well, I have some questions.

The Teacher: Oh, great!

Me: Ummm, I have a 15-month-old at home and I tried to breastfeed her but had to abandon ship because if she didn't latch on correctly the first time she launched into a horrific 30-minute screaming fit that made me want to slice my wrists. In your experience have you come across any other mothers who've experienced anything similar?

The Teacher: Oh yes, that's actually very common. And babies really pick up on the Mother's tension - I've found that the best thing you can do for that is just try to relax.

Oh, YEAH! What awesome advice! Why didn't I think of that? I mean, when your baby is screaming her balls off every time you unsnap your nursing bra because she thinks your boob is a poison-spewing butcher knife, I should have just tried harder to relax.

And let me remind you that this is a cry that has been genetically perfected over the last thousand years or so to raise your heart rate and blood pressure to a level that makes it very easy to visualize throwing your baby out of the car window. And then hitting reverse. Then drive. Then reverse. Then drive.

And not just me. I had lactation consultant after lactation consultant try to help me and each came to the conclusion that maybe I should just bottle feed. Then they quickly exited the room leaving me with the mind bending screaming because they were afraid they would do something that would land them in prison.

But you're right - I should have thought of that. I'll just relax. Thank you SO much. This has been well worth my $25.

I will be the first to admit that before I had Ellie I judged Moms who gave formula to their babies. Why wouldn't you want to give them the best start possible? Breast milk is best, right? And I had every intention of breast feeding my child until she turned one, started to develop a cognitive memory or teeth. Whichever came first.

But if it's one thing I've learned from this whole parenting experience it's not to ever, ever say that I'm definitely going to do something or judge other parents for doing anything. Except piercing a baby's ears. I just think it's so wrong to inflict non-vaccination pain on a baby.

For two weeks I tried everything. A plastic nipple thing that sucked my aerola up into it like a little mini-vacuum. I taped a tube to my boob hooked to my own pumped milk to try to whet her appetite.

Finally one day Nick walked in and saw me sobbing while sitting in a pool of milk trying to thread the tube through the plastic nipple thing and said what we both were thinking - this isn't working.
And so I quit trying. After many days of guilt-ridden crying and berating myself for being the world's most incompetent Mother, of course. My compromise to myself was to pump and give it to her in a bottle in addition to supplementing with formula.

I know there are Moms out there reading this right now who are judging me. And maybe giving up was taking the easy way out. But I had to weigh my sanity against the benefits of the antibodies in my milk. And my sanity kicked their little asses.

And guess what? She's a very healthy, happy 1-year-old. She didn't sprout horns or grow a beard because I gave her formula. And once I made the decision to let go of my guilt (that took another few weeks) I was able to actually enjoy being a Mom for the first time since she was born.

Would I like to breastfeed #2? Of course. And I feel like I'm way better prepared for the challenge. But I'm also prepared to be realistic and flexible.

I need my sanity. After what these babies have done to my body, my mind is the only thing I have left.


The Mommy said...

I've only been reading your blog for a couple of weeks, but LOVE it! We're totally BFFs (in my imagination)! Get this - I received info that said, "consider breast feeding your adopted infant." The whole "don't you want the best for your baby" guilt cult must be stopped! Best wishes on your little one!

Hannah said...

Thanks and EEEEW - was is fashioned like that fake boob in "Meet the Fockers"? Creepy!

kelpouche said...

I had the worst time breastfeeding Mary Caroline. I felt like a failure! My Doc assured me that it's OKAY not to breastfeed. I tried this time around and Mikey did well, but I never felt it was natural for me. And I was BLEEDING!
I was nervous and frustrated. I can't sit that long and have a baby on my boob! Plus, you will notice right away that there is another little baby watching and wants your attention. Case closed: I lost the breastfeeding fight again! And really I never been more happier about it!!

Hannah said...

You know, the thing is that you have to let go of the guilt and the feeling that you're a failure. Basically the same principles I employ when buying a case of Twinkies.