Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hey! Want to Talk About Boobs?

Specifically, my boobs and how they might not be food sources anymore. I know; I know-- they've been sustaining life for like 2 years practically in a row-- why stop now?

Well, for one thing, I want to get so drunk I puke and eat so much chocolate I also puke. Then, I want to sleep all goddamn night long somewhere far, far away from a hungry baby-- specifically, this hungry baby

No offense Jack.

Oh good. Looks like none taken.

Here's the thing: He only gained 2 ounces in the last month, and even though the doctor is not at all concerned, I am, because who likes a skinny baby?

Well, okay, I mean, this skinny baby is pretty awesome.

He even sits up like a little baby frog

The thing is, he seems hungry when he gets done eating, fussing and gnawing on his hands. Ben has been reluctant to agree with me about the hunger, I think because I was such a freaking psycho about breast milk with Harry. I acted so superior because I was breastfeeding, and I was determined that he would have zero formula because ew! Formula is rat poison. This time around, I don't feel that way at all. The other day, I fed Jack from both boobs and then offered him a 4 ounce bottle, and he sucked it down after every feeding. He still woke up a lot and nursed all damn night, but he was more content during daylight hours than he usually is.

Jack has been kind of cranky his whole darn life, and if bottles make him happy, then who am I to stand in his way?

The thing is, I am such a judgmental bitch that every time I see a baby with a bottle I have a visceral reaction. I think, "Why are you feeding him that? Do you want him to be stupid and have a cold all winter?" Even though I know that aggregate statistics cannot possibly play out at the level of the individual and that socioeconomic level has a lot to do with those supposed benefits of breastfeeding.

An occupational hazard, perhaps, but have read too much and written too much about the ways in which hierarchies of worthy mothers have been created and maintained and used to keep women in the home or at work for less money or to devalue the work that women do to take seriously all the public health guilt messages about nursing.

But I also am a woman who is steeped in this culture and wants very much to do the best thing for her babies who feels guilty about bottle feeding, just like I am supposed to feel.

We are, after all, coming up to cold and flu season-- a good time of year for extra immunities. And I love what nursing does for my body in terms of cleavage and weight loss. And also, if I don't nurse, what ever will I feel smug and superior about?

Mostly, though, I am worried about being judged. And not by him.

I don't want to hear, "Oh you did the best you could!" and "Five months is a long time-- good for you for giving him the best possible start!" and all the other stuff we say to women who have thrown in the nursing towel. I don't want the disapproving hmphfs and the I'm-sure-he'll-be-okays. Because really, I am aiming a lot higher than okay for these guys, you know?

Note that I am too weight conscious to give up the breast feeding diet, which totally rocks, and that I have been pumping in my office the whole time I wrote this.

I'm just saying breast feeding sucks-- pun intended.


  1. I understand the weight issue. AJU5 is falling down the growth chart it seems (although she does still have fat rolls). Maybe it is time to start solids and give your body a little break? It did seem to help some for us... but I am with you about ready to leave the little one for a few days and SLEEP!

    Glad he is smiling for the camera now - he does have a cute smile!

  2. Anonymous6:42 PM

    Sarah, when I nursed your mother, Boo and the twins, no one was even helpful, but I did get about 3 months for all of them and as you know they are all very healthy, wise and now rather old, so don't let your own guilt take over..Jack will be as exceptional as you and Harry and your sibs are (oh yes, Bedn Jedd too) Bomma

  3. I'm all for chocolate and beer and sleeping all night! Seriously, you can't go wrong. Jack has a loving family and that is all he needs. Well, that and SOME kind of food.

    I was exactly like you with Charlie until he was 10 months old and I would pump for hours a day just to give him the two bottles he needed for daycare. And I felt so guilty about giving him formula. But really? He needed more food than I could give him myself, so it was the only decision to be made.

  4. Anonymous8:31 PM

    You are so funny! I agree with the previous comments from ssu. When the baby acts unsatisfied after a feeding, it means he is ready to start solids! I think you're doing the perfect thing starting cereal. You know that you can still breast feed, too. Besides, Jackie is doing beautifully! They say that if the baby isn't fat, s/he won't be a fat adult! Ya know when you were little, it was cow's milk at 3 months! Don't you still feel like Elsie (the cow) is your foster mom?

  5. Anonymous8:45 PM

    someday, i'd really like to read your dissertation.

  6. Anonymous11:02 PM

    You can know in your head that formula feeding is perfectly fine for babies (except those who might live in China, of course) but I think every mother's heart hurts when breastfeeding is over. You could still continue to nurse, or nurse part time, or just go to formula and solids. Either way, your head knows that boobs don't make mommies. Many mothers who do breastfeed are bad moms, while many mommies who couldn't or didn't nurse are WONDERFUL moms. There's no right answer, and there's no need to patronize with the "way to go" remarks, as you'll make the right decision for yourself in the end. Just remember, though, once you're done feeling guilty about this particular thing, you'll find something else to feel guilty about. Welcome to motherhood. It's the way it goes for all of us! Don't pressure yourself too much...your boys love you because you're YOU! I think of quitting breastfeeding almost every day and we've just made it to 3 months!

    Good luck making such a big, personal decision. The good moms stress over crap like this while the bad ones just give up.

  7. Wise words here in the comments... doesn't matter how old they are when they stop nursing, it is a sad, emotional day!! Do you know much about the mechanics of breastfeeding, so far as the hormones required are concerned? I have a very basic understanding, and the synopsis is that right about 5-6 months after birth, these hormones level out, and if you don't have enough prolactin being produced in your body, you won't have milk. There are many things you can do to increase your supply, but the two biggest are drink water (lots and lots and lots of water until you think you might float away) and leave your pump (I'm assuming a double-electric pump, though a hospital grade would be better for boosting supply and can usually be rented monthly for a small fee) out and use it every time you walk past for about 5 minutes. That is, of course, assuming you want to increase your supply. :-) As someone else also said, you're going to make the best decision you can make for your family, no matter what you decide to do. Motherhood isn't for wimps!!