Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy Hour at the Milk Bar

Let’s talk lactation. Just unbutton the topic… and put it all out there. I’ve got to tell you…it is an issue that evokes a squirt or two of passion out of people. I had no freaking idea the kind of rallying both sides of the booby issue were capable of. There are people for it and people against it. And both sides fiercely latch onto their positions, digging in their high heels to debate it. Honestly, until I reached the tender age of twenty-seven, the idea of using my boobs for anything other than attracting adult members of the opposite sex, never really occurred to me. I assumed nipples had no other value than simply being a reliable temperature gauge. I distinctly remember having dinner with a group of college friends at a TGI Friday’s back when everyone I knew, myself included, was young, single and flirtatious. One of the attractive guys casually pointed out an exhausted looking lady nearby, who was obviously wearing a starving five year old child underneath a small fabric camping tent. Junior was screaming aloud his intentions of “MILKEEEEEEEEEE” from under the wrap, his legs kicking wildly as she apparently fumbled for the trap door on her ginormous bra. The rest of us painfully avoided looking anywhere near that table, the same way you try not to stare at people who subconsciously pick their noses in public. I remember the guy saying something like, “Seeing that….makes me lose my appetite… for all kinds of things.” The whole table laughed in response. I paid no mind to the lady or to the comment, dismissing it all as something that didn’t really apply to me. If I had a form to fill out…under breastfeeding I would’ve written in N/A. Not applicable. Or maybe, no thanks. Or…perhaps, not yet. So instead, my mind effortlessly wandered into the realm of thinking about the kind of pins I would wear if I worked at a place like that. Maybe one that would even say N/A. I smiled at the thought. Yeah. That was me. I didn’t notice and I really didn’t care. If people did it – great. I didn’t have a problem looking away. If not, no big deal. Bottles worked. I was neutral.

Fast forward. I meet a hot sexy guy and steal his heart…and then his last name. Pretty soon it’s inevitable that everyone seems to be begging the question. And they start asking in a shrill, intruding voice, “When you two going to have a baby?” Everyone asks. Then I start asking myself. And of course, hot sexy guy who is madly in love with me, is game with whatever. So, we throw caution to the wind…and pretty soon a plus sign appears on the pee stick. Sick thing is I still have it. How’s that for being sentimental? Now I have no idea what I’m in for… so I search my memory for friends and relatives who have born offspring that I have had contact with in the last few years. And a repressed memory faintly appears. Picture an overjoyed, but tired looking mom holding a newborn with an open mouth. Then I see the nightmare nipples…ones that are dark and ominous and frighteningly large. It’s like seeing someone with a glass eye or something weird like that. And I am suddenly freaked out that my perky and proportionate breasts will morph into something hideous and grotesque. But then I think about how much I already am in love with this little person who I’ve never met. How I would do anything for this little heaven-sent gift, even if it means losing one of my greatest assets.

So my boobs got bigger. And then even bigger than I could have possibly hoped for. I bought a huge bra with trap doors and nursing pads to stick inside. FYI: those little circle pads can double for maxi’s if you line a few up and are seriously in a pinch after getting a surprise visit from Aunt Flo. Especially…when you haven’t seen her in over a year. But luckily for me, there was no freak-show nipple changing. The belly button thing didn’t happen either. Whew! What a relief. Then… the much anticipated baby pushed its way out into the world to be adored by all. And I decided to give breastfeeding a try. And I will admit that the idea of bottle washing and mixing of formula sounded like too much added work. How’s laziness for a motivating factor? See I had already increased the amount of laundry I was doing- tenfold. So I was in the market for efficiency.

In the hospital, a lactation specialist came by for a visit and a consultation. I tell myself half listening, it can’t be that hard. Plus, I have a very high opinion of my abilities when it comes to overachieving at things. Seriously… boob in mouth, right? Not exactly. Turns out there are special ways to hold the baby. Ways to hold the booby. Ways to get the baby to open its mouth. Ways to tickle the cheek. Ways to massage the milk out. And then there are remedies for getting what I called, “hotboob”, a painful reminder that when it fills up…get that milk out…even when you’re so tired, you forget who you are. They would fill up like water balloons, and as soon as my ears intercepted a cry, I would be leaking like a spigot. It really didn’t matter what kind of cry. It could be a TV commercial, a dog whimper, pretty much any kind of high-pitched cry and I was ready to serve drinks. I wanted the menu to sound impressive, but I only served one beverage, what I called the “milktini”. A drink that was created on the foundation of me eating everything organic and nothing overly spicy. The ultimate, gassy, BF killjoy turned out to be the evil vegetable known in grocery circles as broccoli. And my patron left me the biggest tips imaginable. I knew I had done my job well by the amount of Pampers we were flying thru.

If you think about it, thousands of trees have been utilized in the construction of books on this very subject. Knowledge is power, right? Maybe. In my experience…I got impatient and irritated at the rigid concepts being hurled at me. So I did what I do when I convince myself that stressing out is not the answer. I tossed expert opinions aside along with everything I felt was not working, and just decided to figure it out. Just me…and of course, the most adorable little milksucker I have ever seen. And every three hours we figured it out together. All it took was something I had lots to give. Patience and time. It’s the byproduct of leaving the fast-paced world of impatient strangers to slow down and appreciate what matters most in life. And in that start to parenting, I got to know every dimple, every expression, and every sound that accompanied what had once been “Not Applicable”. I had become the deliriously in love bartender and waitress that looked forward every day for a year and two months… to happy hour at the milk bar.


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supermom said...


Ana said...

I love this post! I was also there, always thought I would bottle feed the baby and would never let anyone see not even a peek of my boob, 1 1/2 years later I am still breastfeeding my kid, hoping I don't go over the necessary time and knowing that probably tomorrow someone else will take a peek at my now motherly boobs.

myletterstoemily said...

breastfeeding is a miraculous gift!

thanks for the hilarious viewpoint!

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prashant said...

breastfeeding is a miraculous gift!

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