When our daughter was born, she only had one real task – to eat. For whatever reason, she just wasn’t that into it. She regarded my lovely wife’s boobs as really awesome pillows, instead of nutrient dispensers.
We were immediately bombarded with opinions, advice, suggestions, and schemes on how to get our uncooperative little nugget to effectively breastfeed. We soon enlisted the aid of a team of hospital nurses, a night nurse, a day doula, three lactation consultants, two breastfeeding classes, a state of the art breast pump, another military grade nuclear powered breast pump, small breast flanges, large breast flanges, fast-flow nipples, slow-flow nipples, two different contraptions that involve a formula-filled bottle worn as a necklace and attached to two thin tubes you tape to your nipples, syringes, cabbage leaves, and a daily regimen of something called Fenugreek and Goat’s Rue. Nothing worked.
My bullshit sensor started pinging about a week later, when we were told of a “solution” called Craniosacral Therapy, which as far as I can tell involves pressing on the child’s skull bones to regulate her cerebro-spinal rhythms and awaken her “inner physician” in order to cure everything from bad boob sucking to back pain. To learn more about the merits of CST – you can click here: www.quackwatch.org.
After about three weeks of being “educated” by a cadre of nurses and nudnicks, I seriously began considering the possibility that none of these folks knew what the fuck they were talking about. Don’t get me wrong, they were all very nice, and I’m quite sure they all meant well.
Unfortunately, not one of their suggestions had any positive lasting effect on Sleeping Booby’s feeding prowess. Yet that didn’t stop them from continuing to tell us everything we HAD to do. And, more often than not, the guidance we got depended entirely on which “expert” was currently in the room. For example:
- Our nurse told us we had to use spring water in the formula, the doula said tap water only.
- The doula said feeding her formula would eliminate any chance of breastfeeding. The nurses in the hospital gave her formula on day ONE, telling us she would end up in the NICU with an IV in her otherwise.
- The books all say to feed every two hours, the pediatrician said to let her sleep as long as she wants.
- The latest literature says babies who sleep on their side could suffer from a nasty condition known as death, while our nurse said it’s fine.
- Our nurse said Casey’s habit of sleeping on momma instead of breastfeeding was “good for bonding.” The lactation consultants said to splash water on her to wake her up if she dared take a boob snooze.
In situations like this, I use the WWACD method. What Would A Caveman Do? I asked my lovely wife, “Lovely Wife, if we were alone on a desert island without any of these people, pumps, organic formula, or Greek goat pills, what would we do?”
So my poor wife proceeded to try to breastfeed a screaming, uncooperative baby for nine hour stretches to no avail, turning our baby from a dream into a nightmare and my wife from a confident, intelligent, happy person into a self- doubting, depressed, confused one. On a desert island I guess this was just the way it had to be, but on the island of Manhattan, it just seemed silly.
One last visit to a breastfeeding clinic where, upon hearing our latest plight, the lactation consultant told my wife she now would need to INCREASE her pumping to make up for time we lost by following our parental instincts, and we’d had enough. After making the little one a warm batch of formula, I pulled out my abacus and did some maths, because things were not adding up. Below is breakdown schedule of breastfeeding an uncooperative baby by the numbers:
Baby needs to feed every three hours, 15-20 minutes on each boob. Then, because baby is not actually eating anything during these sessions, baby must be bottle fed, which involves mixing, feeding with a slow-flow nipple (to make the baby suck the actual nipple better) and mid-bottle burping which all takes about 20 minutes.
Then, because baby is not sucking any milk out, momma’s breasts must be artificially pumped to keep the milk supply up, and the pump parts must be cleaned and sterilized, taking an additional 20 minutes. Somewhere throughout this process the baby needs to be put down, and if you’re lucky enough for that to happen, it usually takes about 15 minutes. Of course because the baby is now actually eating formula, it will be peeing and pooping which requires around eight changes a day at about five minutes each barring cataclysmic volcanic expulsions.
BOOBS 8×30+ BOTTLE 8×20+ PUMP 8×20+ PUT DOWN 8×15+ CHANGING 8×5=
12 HOURS OF ESSENTIAL UNCOOPERATIVE BABY CARE PER DAY
Now you might say, “Twelve hours – that’s not bad, you still have 12 hours to do what you need to do. Welcome to parenting. Stop whining, suck it up, and take care of your kid.” Point taken.
I’d first point out that a baby who actually has figured out the breastfeeding thing gives mom an extra 5.3 hours a day, or as is known in parenting, an eternity. But here’s the real catch: Those 12 hours don’t happen IN A ROW. Not six or four or three or even two. You see, each breast/bottle/pump/put down/change cycle takes almost two hours. An hour later, it starts again.
Can someone please explain to me how my wife, without an army of assistants and three or four extra boobs, could possibly last, utilizing only 12 one-hour intervals per day to sustain herself as a human being? Do you sleep for one, eat for the other and use the bathroom in the third? I swear as much as these people pushed the merits of breastfeeding, I started to wonder if they were part of some dark Similacian conspiracy to force new moms to the formula.
I am a proponent of breastfeeding. The simplest, most natural solutions are usually the best in my opinion. In most cases, breastfeeding is probably better for the baby. But in our case, it was a matter of how much stress we wanted to put our family under in this all-new and completely daunting environment. At what point is THAT unhealthy?
Five years later, Casey is big, beautiful, and cool as shit. I’m not saying this is because we chose to formula feed. I’m not saying everyone, or anyone, necessarily should. Did we do the “right” thing? No way to know. All I’m saying to new parents is you are going to hear a LOT of advice and opinions from a LOT of places. There’s only one opinion that matters: yours. Follow it. You might be right. You might be wrong. You might end up with an awesome little monster like we did.