This is clearly not a usual Baking and Math post (neither will show up here) but I owe a post and I’m not operating on a ton of sleep right now so here’s a real fast update. This baby was born last Tuesday, 10/7, at 7:11 a.m. and he’s great.
Some not so great things: he was a bit jaundiced-looking so we had to keep taking him back to get blood drawn to find out if we had to stick him under UV lights. It’s difficult to transport newborn babies, especially if you don’t own a car. But he’s fine now so that’s great. Other not so great thing: breastfeeding him hurt like hell, to the point where I’d be crying in pain. On Sunday, after doing our blood test, I thought I’d feed him before we got in the car and headed home. So I tried, and then I started screaming in pain (this pain was a slow ramp up over the course of the first week of his life). Luckily we were already in the hospital, so we thought the nurses/lactation consultant could help.
Some background if you have not had a child lately: something we call the Breastfeeding Propaganda Machine has been in full force for several years, with slogans like “Breast is best” and “A mother’s breast is where a baby belongs” printed on posters, and unhelpful breastfeeding classes where they say things like “breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt if you’re doing it right.” Also doctors, nurses, lactation consultants (that’s a full time job!), and other parents who are ready to pile on the guilt with said slogans and facts: mother’s milk gives baby necessary antibodies, promotes closeness, helps mom lose weight, is the correct choice.
I find the BPM incredibly insensitive to the many mothers out there who a) can’t for some physical/emotional reason breastfeed, b) don’t have the time to breastfeed because they need to work, or c) have their own reasons for not breastfeeding. Theoretically I have bodily autonomy and don’t need to justify my personal decisions as to what I do with my body to other people, but I guess that’s not true.
Things that were said during our conversation (keep in mind I am sobbing in pain at this point) (Sarcastic responses in parentheses):
“Hmmm this shouldn’t be hurting you this much.” (Thanks.)
“Breastmilk is the perfect mix for your baby.” (Great.)
After telling her we’d been supplementing because his weight had decreased too much the first week: “Oh, well, if it’s medically necessary then that’s a good reason to supplement.” (Oh, thanks for your judgment I really needed that. Because it’s your right to judge whether my reasons for supplementing are legitimate or not.)
My husband was boiling mad at this point. We left and the lactation consultant lady literally followed us down the hallway and kept saying unhelpful things to us. We wish that she and the nurses had been more patient/mother-friendly.
For the record, despite my acknowledgment of the BPM and us joking for weeks that if we didn’t breastfeed our baby would grow up stupid and ugly, I still protested when my husband very reasonably suggested supplementing with formula after I’d had another hour-long feeding session of our constantly screaming, not-sleeping, weight-losing baby. Because I’d internalized the BPM messages, I felt frustrated, guilty, and ashamed that I couldn’t provide my baby with the “best.” I wanted to keep trying to exclusively breastfeed him even though all signs pointed to it not working. Once we started supplementing, he slept! And didn’t constantly scream! And everything got better and was amazing! But it still took me days to get over my hang-ups (I’m still getting over them, honestly) that I wasn’t good enough for my baby. I wanted to push through the pain and do everything for my baby, feeling that if I didn’t breastfeed, I was a bad mother.
If you know me personally, that last paragraph should sound pretty out of character. I pride myself on being confident, not giving a damn what other people think of me, and also being quite difficult to offend/affect emotionally (unless you’re my husband or mom). But I’d listened to the BPM for too long, and it hurt my family. Thank goodness I have a reasonable husband who talked me down to supplementing and pumping until I was in less pain.
Anyways, these were some disjointed thoughts on what’s happened to me over the past week and a half or so. If I had more sleep/was operating at more of my usual intellectual level I’d add commentary to the following links, but I’ll just leave them here: