Friday, April 23, 2004

Nipple Confusion

doesn't taste like a nipple.bmp

I hadn't really thought much about how I was going to keep my baby alive prior to the baby's arrival. I recall discovering--sometime in my seventh month or so-- that babies eat for 15 minutes on each breast approximately every two hours.

"Wow!" I thought "That's six hours!" Or rather--"Oh my God," I thought in horror six fucking hours sitting there with this baby on my boob (at the time I had fantasies they sold hands-free baby slings and I could pop the critter in and go on with my life--but no such luck--newborn babies are not very do-it-yourself.)

But since then this rather esoteric fact that babies eat a lot and very frequently is the most vivid aspect of my current reality.

And let me tell you, six hours is a very low estimate. It's more like ten--but it's pretty much an all day affair.

You probably don't think about it much, do you? Babies, their need to eat, how much they eat and how often? If you did you would wonder: How in God's name did the human race evolve let alone proliferate to such a degree? How did these evolving early humans find the time, let alone the energy for all this suckling? Where did they sit when they were nursing? And why didn't predators pick them off easily, one by one as they sat there for hours and hours with one hand on the babe and one hand on the boob?

Your guess is as good as mine.

In the hospital I sort of lackadaisically fed the baby every three hours (when she could get the thing in her mouth) and then discovered she was losing too much weight. There is nothing like a baby who loses too much weight to focus the mind of a mother. Feeding her and making sure she gains weight and grows became my one obsession.

The economic metaphors helped, as well. I was told to remember "the law of supply and demand" (i.e., my boobs will increase milk supply upon use) and that babies "put in their orders for more milk" when they are going through a growth spurt--what's called cluster feeding.

The production and delivery of milk has taken over my life. I only have a very small consumer market. Make that a very, very small consumer market...but a captive audience.

According to Marx, the law of supply and demand is imperfect and worldwide economic collapse is the ultimate result and this is what will happen if I don't have a baby sucking on my boob on a very regular basis.

So let me break this down for you: Baby: Eats every one to three hours. Feeding baby requires taking off one's shirt and squeezing one's boob into a sandwich like form, inserting it into baby's mouth. Sometimes a number of times. Mother: Would like to leave the house, needs to take the baby with her...

And herein lies the problem. Because outside of the house there are other people...And where do you usually want to go? Restaurants, movies, cafes, etc. Which means that the 'insert boob into mouth' procedure must be performed in public. I also live in a city where parking lots do not exist, I have wicked post partum depression, I have to get outside, I have to walk--I can't run back to my car every time she cries.

And a hungry baby's cry is the kind of torture for me that the state would use to break me like they do in 1984.

You can see I'm already making excuses. And why, Miel, why even bother making excuses? After all, I am the woman who claimed she could not understand
why we can't go around naked in public.

Without even thinking about it, or pondering the implications I just started to do it...Mostly driven to such brazenness by hunger and the sad truth that eating delicious food is really the only fun I've got left these days. So far I've nursed in a sushi restaurant, a cafe with amazing hot chocolate, a Starbucks, a deli and an ice cream store.

Initially, I was also naive. I wasn't even embarrassed because I thought "this is the oh ohs" (can't wait for the 'tens' 'ohohs sounds so dumb). Surely women must breastfeed in public, right? I asked my husband: Do people do this? I haven't been paying attention. It's OK, isn't it? He was pretty sure it is.

But then he's a man. And when have men complained about a little titty flash here and there? Sincerely, that is--not just to keep their jobs as the head of the FCC.

(Come to think of it, since straight men rule the world, and love the sight of titties, why is it that titties must be covered up anyway? I suppose it's only their own wife/girlfriend/daughter they want covered. Hence, laws and social customs on bosom coverage and all the ensuing bother.)

Besides, who will notice? I walk around in a daze and barely notice other people and I'm hoping everyone else does as well.

But it was when I was sitting in a park, no blanket (note: breastfeeding takes two hands and often requires looking at the baby to see what she's doing so blanket placement is often not possible) and the look on this one young man's face suddenly alerted me to the possibility that public showing of the boob may be too much for some to handle.

Googling showed me that--yes, it's a bit more of an issue than I'd hoped.

In case you've been living in a cave, breast milk is better for babies. Much better. Ya think I'm going to give my baby an inferior source of nutrition (even though sometimes I feel like I am producing Slim Fast for my baby's all liquid diet)?

And 'nipple confusion' is a great name for a band. Or something that supposedly happens to babies and wreaks havoc on their young lives.


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