I love puppies, kittens & babies, not in that order. I still have not completely accepted that many grow up to be slobbery dogs, rude cats & old men with hanging, hairy balls.
Babies are my favorite part of the universe, despite shitty diapers & projectile vomiting.
The first time around, having a son was my only thought. I needed a son, a carbon copy of the father. And I got my wish, better than any lottery win.
I was 25, holding down two jobs, and I nursed him for 20 months. It was difficult but not impossible, probably my favorite part of being mommy. There is an unexplainable joy that comes with being able to totally and completely satisfy your infant; and great convenience when you can just whip it out in a mall or at the beach.
You know those crying babies you hear in restaurants? For the most part, those are bottle-fed babies. Nursing babies usually have a tit in their mouths and are quite happy about it.
I knew nothing about babies before having one. But all my natural beliefs were straight out of La Leche League: hippy-dippy family bed, feeding on demand, nursing even though it grossed out half the family. I made every attempt to keep it covered & had great success.
He was my only for 11 years, my perfect boy.
Before my daughter came along I often thought people might believe I was a potential kidnapper, cooing over their babies with obsessive infant lust! I had a boy, and then I had to have a girl. Greedy, right? I thought I might die without one. I pitied the woman next door with three boys. How could she live without trying just once more?
I nursed her until she was three.
And I would do it over again in a heartbeat. She loved her ba-ba. And I loved her too much to take it away. It was one of the greatest gifts of my life, that connection to both my children. I had no mentor, just the incredibly strong belief that this was what I was supposed to do.
On my 45th birthday I sobbed & sniffled while washing dishes, acknowledging that my own personal baby days were over. I was probably partly pissed that I was washing dishes on my birthday, but you know what I mean.
The idealistic piece of me wanted to move on to foster care; my husband refused. He says I would not be able to let the kid go back. I tell him he’s totally wrong.
But when I think about the times I began arguing with judges over kids I didn’t even know personally, while working in Family Court, I have to agree just a little bit.
I would no doubt get into a tiff with a DYFS worker and somehow end up in jail.
Today people are having babies later and later. I know women in their 40’s who are still trying to get pregnant. And I’m jealous.
My doctor scared me too much to even consider doing that after my second at age 38. I got the impression he had seen some very unhappy situations that gave unspoken credence to his advice, so I took it to heart.
We have acquaintances who recently gave birth to their second by way of in vitro fertilization. A girl and then a boy, at last. I could not have been more excited for them. When I heard the second was a boy, I jumped up and down in my kitchen, screaming. What can I say? He really wanted a boy.
When we walked into the hospital room after the first child was born I was shocked to see the infant wasn’t in someone’s arms. I knew then that this woman and I are as different as night and day.
I didn’t allow either of my children to spend time in the nursery, partially due to the huge kidnapping problem in American hospitals today. (This sentence makes me think of my friend Roxanne, who understands psychotic fear.)
Anyway, this other chick skipped natural childbirth and scheduled the events onto her calendar like any other appointment. She’s a busy woman, educated, makes a great salary. She is far more successful than I.
After a few months she went back to work, found a full-time nursery. The baby was sick, on and off, all year. I can completely accept that this was their family’s decision, that nurseries are sometimes necessary. And I know she didn’t really want to go back to work, it was that damned money thing.
Then they had number two.
At 1 a.m. last night my mostly silent husband rolled over and said, “I forgot to tell you, J.’s kid is 8 weeks old and he weighs less now than he did when he was born. They can’t get him to hold food down.”
For two hours I lay wide awake in bed, colostrum running through me like a river, wishing I could have convinced this baby’s mother to nurse him instead of bottle feed. She wouldn’t dream of it.
I cannot accept the decision to feed formula without even trying to nurse first. Formulas are made by the same types of companies that make plastic, tires & MSG. I can’t stand it.
The last conversation I had with this woman, before I could finish a sentence she would say, “Right, right, right.” Over and over again, “Right, right, right.”
I hope the baby survives her belief that she is “Right, right, right.”
On the other hand, last week I spent a day in the company of B., a breast-feeding mother extraordinaire. She plops her boobs out with abandon. She shows no shame. Her son toddles around like a happy little drunk.
I love that.
Right, right, right.