The Bad Rebel Girl at Mommy and Me

I didn't want to go to Mommy and Me today, but Alexander did, so I bundled him up in his “Another Dissatisfied Customer of the United States of America” t-shirt (thanks Avram) and arrived a fashionable 20 minutes late. The class is held every Thursday at the hospital where I gave birth. It was standing room only today — more like sitting-room, as they make us women who have recently pushed babies through our sit-areas repose on the floor — so I stuck myself in the corner, saving the leader from having to do it.

The leader recognized me as the woman who runs her bathtub to calm down her baby (works great, so long as you don't pay for water). I chimed in when a woman voiced her concerns about not making enough milk. And then Alexander woke up from an hour-long nap, which is pretty much the longest he's slept in the past 24 hours, so I attempted to nurse him, then gave up when he lost interest and played with him instead. And we kept that up until a woman who'd been in my childbirth class mentioned that she'd parked her son in front of “Sesame Street” that morning, and he'd had an absolute ball.

From the reaction she got, you'd think she'd parked her son in front of a crack pipe and a copy of Screw.

The facilitator sprang into action, warning us against the devil box, which mesmerizes babies and lobotmizes their parents. A grandma visiting from out of town told us that her tv-free grandchildren play imaginative games with three sticks. Someone else told us that there are schools in the area that ban families from having TV in their homes.

This went on for half an hour. I shit you not. I held my tongue for as long as I could — longer than usual, perhaps, as I'm exhausted from baby's lack of sleep and the wall I was leaning against might as well have been made of goosedown — but predictably piped up as devil's advocate.

“I don't want to be devil's advocate,” I lied, “but I'm a big fan of TV. Big Bird taught me how to read when I was two.” Letting that one sink in, I continued, “I lived without TV for three years, and you know what? People who never watch TV are physically unable to take their eyes away when they are in the same room as one.”The leader concurred that “everything in moderation…” Score one, team Johnson!

I guess I should have left it at that, but at the end of the session I brought up the topic that's been weighing most heavily on my mind:

“I hate breastfeeding.”

I'm pretty sure I said it that way, rather than “I fucking hate breastfeeding,” but you couldn't tell from the looks on the faces of the breastfeeding moms. It was like I'd stolen the crack pipe from the Sesame Street-watching baby and plugged it into my own fat yap. Their scorn immediately turned to pity, though, and they offered pithy advice to call a $90 lactation consultant who “works wonders.” I was beginning to feel like the only non-Stepford mommy until a woman two babies down from me admitted, “my sister keeps going on about how special the mother-baby breastfeeding time is. I tell her, 'you know, for me, it's not.'” I smiled at her, delighted to learn that she lives in my town. There's hope for us yet in this leftist community.

On her way out of the conference room, the leader looked down at my again sleeping Alexander and said I was doing a good job.

I'd be doing a better job if maybe I could start my own Mommy and Me class, to be held at the Beer Can Museum and Tavern, where we could check our babies with the parking valet and sip champagne while bitching that this motherhood thing is the hardest job on the planet, for which no compensation is offered, and made no easier by those with impossible standards and the endless patience for infinte rounds of peekaboo.

Or maybe I just need a little more sleep. That's probably it. Because I woke up at three this morning and the baby was asleep on top of me and I had no memory of how he got there. But that's better than a one-night stand, I guess. At least, I bet my husband thinks so.

motherhood core dump

T'was two days after Christmas

And all through the house,

not a creature was stirring,

except baby Alexander,

and, by extension, his mother,

whose nipples have had more of a workout these past five weeks

than they ever did in college.

Ahhhh, parenthood.

They don't tell you about breastfeeding when you're pregnant. Well, they tell you how to do it, and that you should do it for at least a year, and that it “doesn't hurt,” and all that, but they don't tell you that where doggy and kitty mommies have successfully been offering the teat for thousands of years, human mommies sometimes have issues, wherein they must consult “lactation consultants,” which would be a great job for someone with a bit o' the letch to 'em, as it requires looking at boobies and the aforementioned nipples all day.

( Driv? )

Beyond breastfeeding (sounds like a support group, no?), motherhood is pretty OK. Alexander was sleeping five hours at a clip at night, but that's been supplanted by two/three hours at a clip. I think he's growing, which is a good thing. His first two weeks he did a lot of screaming, basically because he wasn't getting enough to eat. Irony alert (OK, more like strange coincidence alert): Massachusetts is outlawing the distriubution of formula-company diaper bags to new mothers checking out of the hospital. They think it hinders the breastfeeding process. But the formula-company diaper bag I received contained the most helpful breastfeeding information I'd found anywhere (including La Leche League). Wish I'd read it the first two weeks, so that I could learn that “mothers who recieve an excess of IV fluids during labor often experience a delay in having their milk come in.” Sure could have used THAT information back then. Oh well. Now Alexander is gobbling boob and soy formula every few hours, in grossly exaggerated quantities, and his weight gain, which was slim to none his first few weeks, is skyrocketing. He was up to 10 pounds, 11.2 ounces at his one-month checkup, up from an all-time low of 8 pounds, four ounces (he dropped a pound after birth).

Here's how it played out:

Day(s) of labor and birth: Nope, can't tell you that, because pregnant women read this blog. Suffice it to say that nothing on my birth plan happened the way I'd hoped, and Spiritual Midwifery has been refiled to “fiction” in our home library. What a load of crap.

Week One: Home from the hospital on Nov. 20, after Katie comes by and grants him three wishes (we settle on: a keen wit with a gentle side, the ability to see the humor in everything, and a capacity for great joy). Dad and his fiancee arrive Nov. 22. My birthday Nov. 23. Thanksgiving Nov. 24 (Dad springs for the pre-cooked dinner from Whole Foods Market and it's great!).

Week Two: My mom leaves (having extended her visit by two weeks — what a Godsend). Baby is screaming — turns out for more food, though we think it's gas so I cut dairy from my diet, quelle horror! Baby isn't gaining weight. Baby goes to Bible Study and has his first BM in 10 days. We figure he was just moved by the spirit.

Week Three: Supplmenting with soy formula, after getting over the idea that I'm failing him as a mother. Left nipple is bleeding after bad advice from my postpartum nurse (you are NOT supposed to hold down the top of your breast so baby can breathe. This will screw up the baby's latch and make your nipples bleed. Trust me on this.). Clogged milk duct in left breast as a result, try pumping but it's like getting blood from a stone, so instead I nurse with him and it hurts so much I cry. Go to the herbalist for fenugreek, to stimulate my milk supply. It works. Use warm, moist heat to clear the clogged duct and it works! Take Alexander to see Santa in the mall — we arrive just as he's gone on break, so I nurse baby in the food court, which causes him to sleep through the entire Santa experience. The coordinator of my hospital's birth center calls me to tell me that she's filed a complaint on my behalf, having heard of my experience with the dumb-ass anesthesiologist. NOTE TO BIRTH PARTNERS: Before allowing the mommy-to-be to have an epidural, find out which doctor on call has the most experience, and DO NOT SETTLE FOR ANYONE LESS.

Week Four: Nipple is starting to heal, baby has finally started to gain weight, and is no longer screaming with hunger. I go back on dairy and enjoy copious quantities of eggnog. Monstro's folks arrive for Christmas and talk our ears off the first few days, but then settle down and are fabulous. Baby is smiling for real now, and cooing up a storm. He seems to know when to interject comments into conversation. Great fun.

Week Five: Starting to get into a routine — it's less about survival mode at this point. Still haven't written all my thank-you notes for baby gifts. Am considering waiting until Alexander is old enough to write them himself. Still having epidural flashbacks and am considering seeing a mental health professional to deal with it.

Fortunately, baby is completely adorable (a bit of acne aside), and we are very very glad he's here. And I can hardly remember what I used to do when I had free time. Oh yeah: update my blog. 🙂

New blog address

Well, for now you can bookmark me at I'll take advantage of the free 30-day trial, and then will probably migrate to somewhere that won't charge me $8.95/month. Whatever happened to freedom of the press? Oh yeah, freedom isn't free.

In other news, we made our first midnight trip to the emergency room last night, as the baby had been screaming for three hours, only to stop screaming the minute we walked through the doors of Cooley Dickinson Hospital. We were there until 2 a.m., only to be told that they can't do anything, and that I should keep my 8 a.m. appointment with his pediatrician. Which I did, after four hours of sleep.

And my mom left today and I'm bummed.

Guess it's time for a nap.