We’ve all heard the tales. There is a baby who poops only once every fourteen days because breast milk is so completely digested. There is a newborn who slept through the night at one week (OK, that was my second son). There is a four-year-old who admits to knowing less than his mother.
They are the parenting urban legends, stories that are whispered from one parent to another, tales that seem almost credible but not quite. Children will eat green beans if you introduce them early. Drinking a glass of wine before breastfeeding calms a colicky baby. If you let her go out without her mittens, she will get cold and eventually agree to wear them.
And, the mother of all urban legends, nipple confusion. This truism holds that breastfed babies who are given a bottle will fall in love with the ease of that artificial nipple and henceforth refuse the organic one. Before we have our first child, the lactivists accost us in parenting classes and in the aisles of Buy Buy Baby, warning us of the pitfalls of allowing a bottle within twenty feet of our newborn. Even seeing another child taking a bottle might corrupt our little ones.
Well, it is possible there are kids out there who find bottles so alluring they immediately give up the breast and turn to a life of bottle-feeding and crime. But, my kids are not confused in the slightest. They have all known exactly what they want. And it is right there in front of me, leaking through my shirt.
Another urban legend is that giving a bottle early will convince a breastfed baby to take an occasional “relief” bottle. I’m here to tell you that we’re a little short on that particular brand of relief in the Rosenbaum household. With Zach, I pumped and pumped and the child screamed and screamed every time that bottle came into the same room with him.
I had a hard time pumping. I let down beautifully for the baby, but I never really bonded with the pump. So, I would sit there at my little milking machine, making almost no progress, frustrated that I could be revising my dissertation instead of pumping out two scant ounces that the baby would promptly reject. We finally gave up, introducing a cup at four months instead.
With Benjamin, we gave up even sooner, having been so scarred by our experience with his older brother. But, with Lilah, I really wanted to try. I have two other kids, and it would be nice to be able to leave the baby for a little while so I can spend time with her brothers.
It all started out auspiciously. The pumping went swimmingly because I started while engorged and used a manual pump instead of the article of torture called the Pump in Style. I began freezing milk. J looked on in derision.
“I don’t know why you are bothering,” he said. “She’s not going to take it.”
“This one will,” I asserted, willing it to be true.
For the record, this one won’t.
And so, I pump and I freeze and we try, but we are getting nowhere. I keep pumping because I want to keep my supply up, yet I know the chances are this baby will never tap into the 200 ounces of breast milk already clogging my freezer. Yet, I hold to it, the thought that someday, sometime, I will leave her with our nanny without getting a desperate text message 45 minutes later, begging me to come home.
A girl has to have dreams.