While I was pregnant, breastfeeding seemed like a pretty cool thing. I didn’t really think much about it, except to plan on doing it for about a year. I wasn’t going to be one of those crazy people who do it until the kid is taller than boob height, but I wanted to give my kid as much of the good stuff as possible.
A year sounds hilarious to me now.
I hear women say how beautiful/wonderful/magical breastfeeding is. I hear the words coming out of their mouths, but I don’t understand them. For me, breastfeeding is just a thing. It’s no more magical than changing his diaper. Actually, it’s less, because he can’t smile when his mouth is full. And he loves getting on that changing table.
Let’s run down my situation:
- I haven’t had plugged ducts or mastitis. Breastfeeding is not a painful experience for me.
- Mixon has had no trouble latching on (this was the only thing I was worried about pre-baby).
- I work from home.
Those all add up to a perfect, lovely breastfeeding situation. But my boobs had other ideas. Milk production. That’s my issue. My B-sized boobs can’t keep up with a dude who frequently enjoys 9 oz. meals.
It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that he needed more, but after multiple tear-stained pediatrician visits and a downward trajectory on the growth chart, I’m happy to be supplementing with formula and pumped milk.
Breastfeeding is a sacrifice. It’s another three, six, 12, 24 months of someone else using your body. So many liberal mamas are pro-choice, but militant about breastfeeding, and I think there’s a contradiction there.
I tried everything to increase my milk supply. The forums and the LLL and the Kellymom.coms made it sound so easy. I fed on demand, spent my life pumping, bought the expensive herbal pills, and ate the oatmeal (I’m still doing all of the above, by the way). When I’d think about supplementing, I’d see the NO, DANGER, DO NOT ENTER posts about how it would kill my milk supply completely. When Mixon’s ex-pediatrician looked at me condescendingly and said “formula isn’t poison, you know,” I wanted to punch her in the face. OBVIOUSLY it isn’t poison, lady, but it tasted like failure.
The truth is, the supplementing has been liberating for me. I can actually go out without stressing that I need to be there to feed him or get home to pump as soon as I can or my milk supply willgoawayandnevercomebackandmybabywillhatemeforeverand…
I still have some stupid hope. I’m wondering if he’ll want less when he starts solids – maybe then I’ll be enough for him. (SEE this language? I’m like a scorned woman.) I’m wondering if he’s just catching up on growth spurts he missed and will even out at some point.
The other part of me sees him freaking out with joy every time he sees a bottle and screaming at my boob, dreams of enjoying more than one glass of wine, and really loves the idea of never seeing the pump again. This part of me thinks that maybe six months is a good time to stop the madness. At least I won’t have any issues with weaning…
There are bajillions of women like me, and I think the tide is starting to shift. I’m hoping we’ll fall somewhere between the ’80s formula-heads and the present-day breastfeed-or-die crowd. I’m calling it third-wave mothering.
Third-wave feminism is less about fighting against something and more about empowering women to make their own choices without limitations (made possible with the work of the first- and second-wavers, of course). I think we’re there with breastfeeding. Third-wave mothers don’t have to shout about how amazing breastfeeding is, we know. Now we can make our own decisions based on that knowledge. Yes, there are still battles to be fought on the breastfeeding front – nursing in public, for one (I’m looking at you, Delta) – but I think it’s time to take a step and make sure we’re not shaming women for making the choice that’s best for them. I understand the need for ‘breast is best’, but we need to remember that there is, often, a person attached to that breast.
Third-wave mothering, third-wave parenting, is parenting free from judgement. Just because something is right for my baby doesn’t mean it’s right for yours. I’m writing this with one hand and Mixon is reading along as I feed him formula from a bottle.
Just like third-wave feminism pulled back from the second wave fear of women who stay at home, I hope third-wave parenting will pull back on the fear of formula. I’ll say it again – nursing is a sacrifice. You’re allowing someone else to control your body – the same someone who did it for 10 months, btw – and that should always be a choice.
Just because I am fulfilling my biological role (pushing out a kid) does not mean that I’m going to fulfill my Gender Role once the baby is born. This is obvious to everyone who knows me, but I figured I should let you all know (and by ‘you all’, I mean the dog who accidentally clicked over. Hey, Rex.)
A recent study from the Center for Advanced Studies in Madrid found that when men do more housework, a couple has less sex. Many articles have spun this as “women don’t like men who do girly stuff.” (for example)
In the press release, they talk about “the importance of socialized gender roles.” I should point out, this study only surveyed heterosexual couples. I would assume these stats go out the window when gender is neutralized. Sigh. Sometimes I wish I was gay.
Who knows why these couples are having less sex? I think:
1. Women are more willing to be coaxed into sex when they’re tired
2. Women are less willing to be the coaxer when the man is tired
3. Men are less willing to do anything when they are tired
Or maybe the couples that answered the study happened to have less sex in general.
Obviously, the reason this study is getting so much press is because it plays into the traditional gender roles that people are so anxious to keep going. My hubs and I have never fit those roles. He gets annoyed with mess before I do, I pay the bills. It’s not like we made a conscious effort to fight the norm, it’s just who we are. And that’s not going to change just because I did my womanly duty and endured 9 months of crazy followed by who-knows-how-long of torture. Though I do plan on holding that over his head when I’m really not wanting to change a dirty diaper.
The 30 Rock finale (spoilers if you haven’t watched it yet, Rex) addressed this in a great way (as it did most things, except for in a few of the later seasons, which were pretty bad). Liz and her man try to fit the norms and Liz stays home while her man goes off to work. By the end, they realize that they each happen to want the opposite. Of course, they couldn’t let the scene end without Liz saying something like “I’m the man.” No, you just LIKE TO WORK, Liz!
I should note that the study did not find any correlation between women working more/making more money and sex, so that’s interesting. Also of note: the articles I read didn’t really mention this.
I don’t think anyone should be expected to do something just because of their gender, and if that turns you off, Rex, I’m sorry. I hope we can still be friends. I just see so many mommy bloggers fall into the coded language: “Daddy helped out around the house today!” or “So grateful that my husband did the grocery shopping this week.” I know it’s easy to do that, and I want to state it for the Momifesta record: I Will Not.