Saturday, January 28, 2012


From the novel description of  Milkshake:

"When she tries to feed her baby in an art museum, new mother Lauren Bruce suffers a wardrobe malfunction -- and becomes a poster child for the breastfeeding wars. A sexy politician, running for Massachusetts governor, enlists Lauren to help her win the women's vote. Breastfeeding advocates, who call themselves the BOOBs, want to make her a true believer. And a group called the MOMs -- for "Mothers on Modesty" -- wants everyone to cover up. Now, Lauren has to decide where she stands, all while dealing with political rallies, breast pumps, talk show hosts, perfect-mommy friends, and post-baby sex. "

So you can imagine my surprise, while I was in the middle of reading this book, when a friend on facebook shared a link to Breastfeeding Arrest Near Gingrich Home.

It's a spoof site, but for a the briefest of moments, I thought Joanna Weiss had divined the future platform for the 2012 election! 

She hasn't of course, but it turns out that women across America really do run into the kind of situation that the main character Lauren does.  And there really are boycotts and sit-ins as a result.

Mostly while I was reading this book, I remembered my own experiences with nursing my boys.  It was almost decade ago-- and not nearly as commonly practiced as it is now.

The first night, I had to ask my nurse to please not give my newborn baby sugar water.  That I appreciated that she was trying to let me sleep, but I needed to nurse him so that 1. he and I could learn how to do it and 2. my milk would come in.  She looked at me like I was a little crazy, but she did it.

I also remember all the discouraging comments I got from people who had never breastfed.

"You know, a baby who drinks from a bottle sleeps 8 hours through the night."

"That must hurt."

"Formula has all the vitamins and nutrients a baby needs."

But the one I heard most often, the one that was -most- discouraging was, "I don't see how that baby can possibly be getting enough to eat."

Part of why I didn't want to use formula was that this was during a time that there were a LOT of recalls going on for bad formula.  Part of the reason was that formula was expensive and breast milk is free.  And part of it was that I remember my mother's horror stories of when I was a baby who had constant screaming colic, most likely from my formula and  I'd heard that breast milk is easier to digest and less likely to cause colic.

Yes, I was tired waking up every hour in the night.

Yes, it was a lot uncomfortable and a little painful at first, but I got used to it and it stopped hurting.

And all my research had suggested that breast milk had all the vitamins and nutrients a baby needed as well.

But that last one...that last one would make me cry.  I was seriously about to give up.

But two things happened:  1.  My boy was gaining weight.  and 2.  I was getting ready to go back to work and I started pumping.

That second was actually -very- discouraging and seemed to support what everyone was saying, as my pump let me know that I made a measly 2 ounces.  After I sat there having a good cry over what a terrible mother I was and how all the nay-sayers had to be right, reason returned and I did the math.

Yes, my boy was only getting 2 ounces at a time.  But he was getting it every hour.  So in that same 8 hour period with a single 8 ounces of formula-- my boy was getting -16- ounces of breast milk.  Of course he was gaining weight!  He was eating twice as much!

And when I started taking him to daycare, I had to educate them on what to expect-- because that diaper is pretty scary if you're used to formula fed babies.  "Don't be alarmed.  It's -supposed- to look like yellow cottage cheese with mustard seeds."

And how to thaw/warm the baggies of milk.  "Please don't microwave these.  Just put them in this cup and run it under hot water."

And I was so very thankful for how friendly they were to my requests-- especially when I was the only breastfeeding mother they had/ had ever had.  In later years, I was even thanked, as nursing mothers became more common and they already knew how to accommodate them.

All in all, I still believe that breast feeding was the right choice for my boys and me.  But I can also accept that formula is exactly the right choice for someone else.

I won a free copy of Joanna Weiss's Milkshake through first-reads contest.  All of my opinions are my own.

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