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“Are you breastfeeding?”
It’s a question I’ve been asked — just estimating here — four gajillion and seventy-two times since announcing I was pregnant. Coming from a family that primarily bottle-feeds our babies (explains why I later took so quickly to the beer bottle… and vodka bottle… and tequila… and…), I was taken aback by matter-of-factness of it all. Not only were the State of My Breasts apparently in the public domain, but the breastfeeding question was also completely rhetorical. Almost combative at times. More like, “You’re breastfeeding, aren’t you?”
And I wasn’t. Planning on breastfeeding, that is.
I liked the idea of allowing Mr. Candy to bond with Baby Girl during feedings. I’d also done my due diligence, poring over medical research merely suggesting breastfeeding could have protective benefits — research findings filled with “may”s and “could”s and some pretty major biases, including surveying affluent mothers who, yes, breastfed but also had access to superior health care that could account for their children’s seemingly better health. Popular literature routinely lays guilt trips on mothers who — GASP! — decide to bottle feed, ignoring the benefits of using formula, like avoiding the environmental toxins and allergies that we sometimes pass through our breast milk and offering Vitamin D, an important vitamin breast milk often lacks.
Having done my homework, I would respond to the question as any confident, knowledgeable mother-to-be would: By avoiding eye contact and mumbling, “Um, no, I’m not. ANYWAY… How ’bout those crazy Gosselins, huh?!”
A confrontational person, I am not. And it’s not that I was ever ANTI-breastfeeding, that would just be plain loco, but rather anti-BREASTFEEDING NAZIS. You know the kind of person I’m talking about, don’t you? The person who SCHA-REAAAAMS in all-caps, all the time, in mommy forums about how women who choose to bottle-feed should not be allowed to procreate, are lazy and, oh yeah, can leave their jacket behind when they die because they are GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL! The person who “tsk-tsks” when you dare to admit you have chosen to feed formula, the devil’s food, to your child. The person who, frankly, scares me so much that I would actually encourage a discussion about the Gosselins. Yes! The freakin’ Gosselins! ANYTHING but breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding. It’s a subject that riles up ladies on a level akin to the Angelina versus Jen debate. And I, simply being pro-feeding-your-baby, did not have the energy or passion required for that conversation.
So, yeah, color me surprised to find myself BREASTFEEDING.
Our second day at the hospital, I was enjoying some precious skin-to-skin time with Miss Skylar — bra on, no nipple in sight (after you experience birth, you don’t give words like “nipple” or “vagina” or “leaky” a second thought… much to my dad’s chagrin) — and she became so animated, like crazy animated, literally LIFTING her head and entire body to move toward my breast and chow down. I haven’t seen anyone that enamored with my boobs since my friend’s drunk dad held an hour-long conversation about Napa Valley with them — “Hello? Eyes up here!” — at his daughter’s wedding reception in 2001. Ew.
I was all, “Holy shit! Did you see that?!” Mr. Candy could only nod in amazement. Seeing my daughter’s instinctive, primal reaction to the milk my body was producing for HER tugged at my heartstrings. It really did. So then I was all, “Um, uh, maybe I should try breastfeeding?”
Now, I’d devoured a ton of books and television shows about pregnancy and baby-raisin’ the past nine months. But, obviously, I’d skipped the chapters on breastfeeding technique. So I did what ANY new mother would when it comes to the most natural thing in the world: Cheated and called the nurse for help.
“Help!” I cried when the nurse answered my call. By this point, Skylar was foaming at the mouth. I kid you not. Cujo ain’t got nothing on this kid when she’s hungry.
The nurse positioned Cujo in my arms and… she immediately latched on like a pro.
“Holy shit! Do you see this?!” Mr. Candy could only nod in amazement. Or perhaps he was speechless, as his dreams of bonding with baby during feedings and bonding with my (milk-free) breasts during sexy time, quickly flashed before his eyes.
Sorry, honey. Keep your receipt and come back in six months.
Cujo has been attached to my breast ever since. And to be honest…? I love it. The bonding time, that is, as well as the knowledge that I could be providing a healthier start for our little girl. Key word: could. Having talked to my friends who are breastfeeding mommies, I realize how lucky I am that Cujo breastfed so naturally, without the help of a lactation consultant, boobie coach or whatnot.
Bottom line: Cujo loves the boob!
Despite my unexpected and pleasant breastfeeding experience, however, I am STILL pro-feeding-your-baby-however-possible and anti-judging-other-mommies. We mothers should be banding together and respecting each others’ parenting decisions, not casting unfair aspersions.
Unless, of course, we’re talking about the Gosselins. Can you BELIEVE the way Jon is parading all of his skanks in front of the world and his kids? Yuck! (Watch: In ten years, he’ll be holding conversations with his daughter’s friend’s breasts…)