This week I really wanted to write about something less controversial than breastfeeding. Something like forced prayer in school. Or using gene splicing to make babies that have cat faces. But those ideas were shut down so I'm back to tackling breastfeeding. Buckle up, buttercup. This is probably gonna get bloody.
Remember when we were kids and everyone had those Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books and you'd hold your finger over the last page you went to so that if you died in the book you could be all "Oh, wait. No. I meant that I didn't want to open the casket. I meant to not choose that. Turn to page 8." And your teacher wouldn't let you do book reports on them because apparently a book report consisting of "According to the cover, this book was about a dragon but I never got there because I died on page 8. The-end" was just another example of "your continued failure to apply yourself"?
Well, you know what? Fuck you, Mrs. Johnson, because those books were a metaphor for life. Every day we make choices that take us further into our own adventure as we write our own stories and try not to get eaten by dragons. That last part is a metaphor too. Unless you live in a house filled with komodo dragons. In which case you should probably fumigate.
My point here though is that choosing whether to breastfeed or not is one of the many choices that people have to make in life and almost never does that decision result in dragon attacks. It does, however, often result in personal attacks as women who choose to breastfeed and women who don't both face harsh judgment and occasionally even battle each other gladiator-style. Except they do it metaphorically online rather than on a televised screen where the rest of us could actually enjoy it.
I'm slightly biased here because after months of agonizing pumping, lactation consultants, and medications that made me smell exactly like pancakes (true story), I finally gave up and instead used those agonizing pumping hours to bond with my daughter. I wished I'd had someone there to tell me that that was okay. Another friend struggled through valiantly and wished that she had someone there to tell her she was a saint for not quitting. Neither of us got what we needed because this column didn't exist then. But it does now. So get ready to choose your own adventure. If you have successfully breastfed your child, then go to section one. If you are giving up on breastfeeding, then go to section two. If you never had a choice on whether to breastfeed, go to section three.
Section 1: You choose to breastfeed. Congratulations! You are a bad-ass mother. Not only will your child have a stronger immune system and be healthier than non-breastfed kids but you'll also create a bond that will stay with you and your child forever. Plus, they'll be able to levitate and trap unicorns. I'm not sure about the last two but this is what my lactation consultant implied to me when I told her I was quitting. Breastfeeding is also a great form of entertainment and self-defense as my sister was so good at it she could hit the cat with her boob milk from across the living room. I could too but only with the bottles of breast milk that my sister had in her freezer. That cat hated me. Also, women who breastfeed have a lowered risk of breast cancer. True story. And supposedly you lose weight like mad when you breastfeed. It's like being bulimic but you don't have to throw up and no one threatens to send you to a mental institution. Plus, I've heard that formula has bugs in it. Like, not as many bugs as hot dogs have in them but probably close. You. Are. Awesome and I'm applauding you. Go have some chocolate cake. You deserve it.
Stop reading now.
Section 2: You tried to breastfeed but it just didn't take so you're quitting. Congratulations! You are a bad-ass mother. I know that's what I just told the moms who are still breastfeeding but that's because it's true either way. Whatever decision you make for your child is the right one ... because it's your decision. Unless your decision is to let a wild bear breastfeed your child. That's a terrible decision. I'm not even sure why we're having to clarify this. It is true that breastfed babies have some health advantages but you know who was breastfed? Hitler. Probably. I don't really know that for sure but it's possible. Also, my lactation consultant told me that women who breastfeed have a lowered risk of breast cancer which sounds awesome but I pointed out that it also kind of sounds like maybe you're feeding your baby breast cancer. This is when my lactation consultant got all huffy walked out. Then I yelled after her "That's probably why they call them ‘booby traps.'" She never came back. My point here is that this is one of many decisions that you will make (and be judged for) as a parent and that this one just feels worse because you're too sleep deprived to think straight. You. Are. Awesome and I'm applauding you. Go have several margaritas. You deserve it.
Stop reading now.
Section 3: You aren't breastfeeding because you adopted your child or you are a father or you don't have kids or you're on too much meth to breastfeed. Congratulations! You don't even have to think about this. Doesn't this all seem ridiculous and overblown from the outside looking in? Yes. Yes it does. You. Are. Awesome and I'm applauding you. Unless you're one of the people on meth. You have a problem and you need to get that shit worked out. For real. Meth-laced milk is terrible. Unless you're a meth addict, in which case it probably tastes delicious. I don't really know how meth works.
Stop reading now. Also, stop taking meth. That's probably the only valuable bit of advice I've given in this entire column.
Join me next week for Lesson Three: Your children's names are stupid. Stop doing that.