If you aren’t already convinced that I am the world’s worst mom…this should seal the deal. I’m addressing my point of view on the great debate of ‘Boob vs. Bottle’.
In my opinion, one of the greatest challenges of being a new mom (aside from attempting to dress a squirming newborn and NOT accidentally tear off one of their limbs) is trying to overcome the constant insecurities that make you think you are doing everything wrong and simply aren’t good enough. There are so many (unsolicited) opinions being thrown in your direction, and for every book you read that tells you to do one thing, you can find another one that says to do the exact opposite. It’s enough to drive a sane person MAD…let alone a hormonal, emotional, postpartum, first time mother.
All women have natural maternal instincts but, for me at least, it sometimes seems impossible to just listen to them and tune out all of the other noise.
Like so many other things…dancing, singing karaoke, telling jokes, performing brain surgery…somehow you feel as though you are MUCH better at them and more confident after tossing back a few drinks. For me, the same held true for taking care of my babe.
Once I re-introduced liquor back to my liver I thought to myself, “I GOT THIS! I AM GOING TO MOMMY THE SH*T OUT OF MOTHERHOOD!” Suddenly I knew EXACTLY what I was doing and was WAY more relaxed. I even grabbed one of the tiny 5-piece baby jigsaw puzzles we had been gifted, otherwise known as a layette, and was able to take control of dressing our fragile infant LIKE A BOSS.
I discovered the secret to parenting…if I remain intoxicated until Lilla turns 18, I’ll be golden.
However, the problem with drinking while nursing (other than being viewed as an alcoholic by the general public) is that your milk becomes eligible for its own alcohol proof…and if any of you are familiar with my alcohol consumption capabilities, you can assume that my milk would be the equivalent of Everclear. Therefore, if your little one is attached to your boob like a host-feeding mosquito, your postpartum diet is one million times more crucial and under scrutiny by every single person you come into contact with. So if you choose to imbibe on a few adult cocktails, you must “pump and dump” to make sure you don’t get slammed with a BUI (Breastfeeding Under the Influence).
And THIS was how I made a pretty important discovery.
After my first post-baby date night out on the town (aka a sushi joint in a strip mall) and a few too many sake bombs, I hooked myself up to the torturous mechanism known as the breast pump to drain myself of my 150 proof milk. However, once I became a working dairy farm, I realized that my girls were just a pair of rock hard and painfully engorged underachievers.
It made perfect sense that I wasn’t producing much in the way of milk as Lilla NEVER seemed full when I was breastfeeding. Unlike other moms who have enough milk pouring out of them to cure the hunger crisis with one boob tied behind their back, I was clearly not blessed with the gift of two all-you-can-eat buffets strapped to my chest. Mine were more like understocked convenience stores with a few lingering Hostess coffee cakes and maybe some Combos left on the shelf.
Because of this, I became paranoid and switched to bottle feeding my milk so I could monitor her intake. In an attempt to build up my supply, I would pump for HOURS until my battered nipples looked like Bugles chips and yet the amount I produced was still pretty unimpressive.
By the way, the CIA seriously needs to rethink their ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques. Forget waterboarding. I guarantee that if you strap the Medela Pump In Style onto a presumed terrorist and crank up the suction, THEY WILL TALK.
I probably should have listened to my instincts, dumped the pump and gave her formula earlier but I didn’t want to give up on my own breast milk, ruin any chances of my child having a high IQ, and risk being hung up in the center of town with a big Scarlet Letter “F” on my chest (F for failure or formula…you be the judge). So, I decided to stick with it and consulted with the internet for some tips.
As it turns out, the cruel irony of breastfeeding is that the following things will prohibit your ability to produce a healthy supply of milk: 1) Stress 2) Lack of nutrition 3) Lack of rest. I find this particularly interesting because ALL of these issues seem to go hand-in-hand with caring for a newborn who does not let you sleep or eat, and is always looking for their next meal which you are freaked out about not being able to provide for them.
That being said, every measly milliliter of breast milk that could be sucked out of me was now like LIQUID GOLD. One time I accidentally knocked over a bottle of freshly pumped (nonalcoholic) milk and I collapsed into a hysterical pile of hormones right there on the kitchen floor. I like to think that was rock bottom, but I’m sure my husband would tell you there were plenty of far worse moments.
Long story LONG, I ended up giving Lilla POWDER GOLD (aka Enfamil) relatively quickly and easily (thank God). After one month of struggling with my supply, clogged milk ducts, being stalked by the hospital lactation consultant, and feeling like I was starving my child, I decided to call it quits and switched over to formula. I couldn’t keep up with her appetite and I was literally losing my sh*t trying.
To all the moms out there who manage to breastfeed for an extended period of time (and as far as I’m concerned, anything longer than one day qualifies as ‘extended’), I APPLAUD YOU. It is NOT easy, takes a tremendous amount of dedication, and does not come naturally to everyone. For me, it was downright awkward. And guess what, that’s OK. I can bond with my daughter in plenty of ways that do not involve my boob being in her mouth. It does not make me any less of a mother. My husband and I were both formula fed babies and we’re only mildly screwed up, so I’m pretty sure Lilla will be just fine.
I know there are plenty of people who will claim I failed my child, gave up too quickly and believe “breast is best”. Maybe it is and they are more than welcome to have that opinion, but I would prefer that it be kept to themselves. Don’t judge. Unless someone is funneling gasoline into their child’s belly, nobody should ever be made to feel guilty about what they choose to feed THEIR child…regardless of whether it comes from a boob or a bottle.
Ultimately, each mom knows what works best for their baby and themselves. I think we just need to trust our guts and not feel forced to comply with what society or the pushy lactation consultant at the hospital says is right. Can’t we all just get along?
But, if anyone still feels the need to attack me with some condescending, “holier than thou” point of view, I’ll probably be too busy getting drunk and being a rock star mom to care what you say anyway. Try back again when I’m sober in 18 years.