It’s been quite the transition to motherhood or, as I like to call it, Mom Eats Last. Some days it feels like SJ and I are killing it: We get enough sleep, we eat, we shower, the house gets cleaned, the bills get paid, and we leave the house and return to it, all without killing the baby. We imitate the baby’s faces to each other and laugh deliriously, and SJ makes the baby talk by opening his mouth with one finger on his chin so it looks like the baby is calling me “Mother” like Norman Bates in Psycho. Salad days!
Some days, however, it feels like SJ and I are on the verge of killing each other — for example, on the days it’s been so long since I’ve showered that my legs stick together and my armpits are full of lint. Or, for four meals in a row everyone else sits down to eat but since the baby has to nurse RIGHT NOW GOD MOM WHY ARE YOU TORTURING ME FEED ME FEED ME I sit in another room listening to cutlery clink. Or in the middle of the night one of us accuses the other of trying to kill the baby, and one of us replies that the other has irrational fears, especially since humankind has managed to replicate for millennia in spite of fathers “trying to kill babies,” and the first person asserts that this is because millennia of mothers have kept millennia of fathers from killing babies and then grabs the baby and shuts her or himself in the guest room for the rest of the night so everyone can live until morning.
For these times, we have baby books.
Before the baby came, I took one look at a gift copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting and threw it into a garbage can in a parking garage (ONE DROP OF ALCOHOL WILL KILL YOUR BABY AND IF YOU’RE FORTY YOUR PREGNANCY IS INHERENTLY HIGH-RISK NO MATTER WHAT YOUR PERSONAL HEALTH HISTORY IS FEAR FEAR FEAR).
But I’ve managed to spend some time flipping through the classic The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears, a married couple who had 10 kids and then had the audacity to write a book giving other people advice. My main concern these days is my main activity: breastfeeding.
From the start, I’ve been adamant about breastfeeding wherever I am, because although I may be whipping out a secondary sex characteristic, God knows it’s not being used for that right now! It’s being used to feed my baby (whom I affectionately call “the Barnacle”). It’s never made me uncomfortable to be half-clothed in public (see 1998–2007), and if it makes anyone else uncomfortable I just don’t care (even though I look like Peter Sellers and my breasts are vastly different sizes and, perhaps for these reasons, no one has ever asked me to get naked in public, I’ve just always felt that YOU NEED TO SEE THIS). The truth is I’ve spent the past seven weeks DYING for someone to challenge my public breastfeeding, even by giving me a questionable look. To that end, places I’ve breastfed:
- Two airports
- Four planes
- A ferry
- House of Air in the Presidio
- Fort Point at Crissy Field
- The pediatrician’s waiting room
- The OB’s waiting room
- An outdoor table at Absinthe in Hayes Valley
- On a riverbank
- On the side of a highway exit in a van
Actually, everywhere I’ve been I’ve fed the baby, so I can’t remember everywhere I’ve fed him. And so far I have been grievously disappointed with humankind: NO ONE has done ANYTHING except give me APPROVING LOOKS and say things like, “HOW OLD IS THE BABY? AWWWWW, HE’S SO CUTE!”
WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO.
But this week the baby had a growth spurt, and although I’ve managed to avoid any real problems with breastfeeding — seriously, this is the solid-gold baby — my nipples were getting sore as he literally (yes, literally) sucked the color off them. So I went looking for advice on breastfeeding, and this is what the Searses had to say on that topic:
Side-lying position. Think of this as the cradle hold, but with baby and mother lying on their sides facing each other. Place two pillows under your head,
JUST FOR FUN LET’S ASSUME I’M ALWAYS HOLDING THE BABY. SO FOR THIS STEP OK SURE IF I FIND TWO PILLOWS IN THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME AND I CAN STACK THEM WITH ONE HAND IN A WAY THAT’S COMFORTABLE FOR MY HEAD
a pillow behind your back,
UM. AM I ALREADY LYING DOWN ON THE TWO STACKED PILLOWS?
another under your top leg,
and a fifth pillow tucked behind your baby.
UNLESS MY HUSBAND’S JOB BECOMES PILLOW BOY OR WE MANAGE TO LEAVE THIS PILLOW CASTLE PERMANENTLY SET UP SOMEWHERE THIS SCENARIO WILL NEVER HAPPEN NEVER EVER
But my favorite part of the breastfeeding chapter is the subsection called “BREASTFEEDING FASHIONS.” OH YES.
Patterned fabric won’t reveal milk that might leak through; avoid solid colors and clinging materials.
ANYTHING I WEAR THESE DAYS BECOMES A CLINGING MATERIAL BECAUSE BOOB SWEAT WHICH, I JUST REALIZED UPON WRITING THIS SINCE I’M BREASTFEEDING WHILE WRITING THIS, IS A MIXTURE OF BOOB SWEAT AND LEAKY MILK HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW OKCUPID.
For discreet feeding, a patterned, loose sweater-type top that can be lifted from the waist is best. Your baby will cover your bare midriff during breastfeeding.
MY BABY COVERS 80 PERCENT OF MY BARE MIDRIFF BUT THE OTHER 20 PERCENT IS VISIBLE IN THE MANY SELFIES I TAKE AND THEN DELETE SINCE THAT 20 PERCENT LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN LEFT OUT IN THE SUN AND HAS MELTED BUT THEN CONGEALED BUT THEN MELTED AGAIN
Blouses especially designed for breastfeeding women have slits hidden with pleats over the breasts.
INTRIGUED, I GOOGLED “BREASTFEEDING BLOUSE SLIT” AND GOT SO MANY PICTURES OF YOUNG ASIAN MODELS COQUETTISHLY PULLING OPEN THEIR BLOUSE SLITS I THINK MAYBE THIS IS NOT ALL THIS SHIRT IS USED FOR
Front-buttoned blouses allow easy access;
THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID SORRY WE’RE ON SEASON 9 OF THE OFFICE
remember to unbutton the blouse from the bottom up, using the unbuttoned flap of the blouse to cover baby for modest feeding.
THEN HOW CAN EVERYONE SEE MY NIPPLE NEXT
To accent the limited designs available, drape an attractive shawl or scarf over your shoulder and use it to cover baby for discreet feeding.
FIRST IT WAS MODEST FEEDING NOW IT’S DISCREET FEEDING WHERE’S THE SECTION ON IMMODEST AND INDISCREET FEEDING FOR THOSE OF US WHO LIKE TO BE NAKED IN PUBLIC BUT FOR WHOM IT’S NO LONGER SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE SINCE WE’RE FORTY OH TO THROW OUR CLOTHES OFF ONE MORE TIME LIKE WE DID BEFORE CAMERAS ON PHONES AND THE INTERNET. ALSO “ATTRACTIVE SHAWL” IS AN OXYMORON.
Two-piece outfits and warm-up suits
I HAVEN’T HEARD OF A “WARM-UP SUIT” SINCE THE 1980S AND THEN IT MEANT MATCHING SWEATPANTS AND SWEATSHIRTS WHICH NO.
are practical, as are pullover sweaters.
I’M ALREADY NOT GETTING LAID BUT GO ON
The top should be loose and easily lifted from the waist.
OK I LIKE WHERE YOU’RE GOING WITH THIS AND SO DOES MY HUSBAND.
But my best breastfeeding moment so far came on a recent jaunt through SeaTac, the airport in Seattle. I was looking for our gate when I happened upon this shame buggy:
That’s right. That is a BREASTFEEDING POD. This is where the airport suggests you go when you want to — gasp — feed your baby, rather than sitting in, for example, one of the many chairs right outside it, next to other people.
OK: Somehow I’m sure the progressive people of Seattle had the best of intentions and meant this as an alternative to a bathroom stall for the shy among us, but I literally stopped in the middle of the hall, stunned at the idea of slinking into a POD only feet away from my fellow humans to shield myself (and, presumably, them) from the dirty, dirty work of feeding my baby. Because the only reason people feel shy or ashamed and want an alternative is that our culture makes them feel shy or ashamed and, instead of making public breastfeeding socially acceptable, comes up with this baloney. And I did walk into it to see WTF it looked like on the inside (spare, white, with a sign instructing mothers not to change their babies in the pod — news flash: A nursing mom in an airport is not going to nurse, pack up, and then scout out a second location to change her baby, so just go ahead and install a diaper genie in that bitch). And guess what? Although I didn’t feel shame walking around SeaTac breastfeeding, I literally felt shame — or maybe it was embarrassment? Who knows! — upon drawing attention to myself by walking into the breastfeeding pod. I even made a “Huh?” face so anyone watching would assume I was walking in just to look, not to breastfeed, even though I had a breastfeeding baby attached to me AT THE TIME.
But anyway. In addition to feeling indignant I also was tickled and relieved: Finally! Something to complain about!
For this chicken pot pie, you need a roommate-cousin to make it for you, using this recipe but also making her own broth by boiling the chicken and veggie scraps. Thanks, Kaila!