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Musings on Breast Milk, Formula and Placenta

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This is dedicated to all you new and almost new dads.

Needless to say, if your lady is on board with nourishing your child from the melons-of-life, count your blessings. Sure you may have to submit to a handful of keep-her-company 3AM feedings, just to show you really do care. But as the weeks slog by and you sense she needs you to tough it out with her one more time, you’ll do what we all do: roll over and go back to your date with Carmen Electra in Dreamland. If she’s smart, and she probably is, she’ll counter your man-ness by engaging in one of the most unsettling activities imaginable: Pumping.

Pumping was invented by an evil feminist in an attempt to deprive us hard-working men of our sleep. To rid us of this line of bull, “I’m sorry honey, I wish I could interrupt my peaceful sleep to feed the violently screaming baby. I’d do it for you if I could.” Well thanks to the pump, now you can. The reality is: feeding your baby is pretty cool. The second reality is: watching your wife pump is fairly disturbing. Warning! If you plan on lusting after her in the near future, don’t watch her play dairymaid. It’s a tough image to pry loose.

By this point in the procreation process you’ve already seen things that no man really needs to see. There’s a good reason we used to be exiled to the waiting room with our cigars. Witnessing a vagina reconfigure itself from it’s familiar…well…you know, into some bizarre, twenty-five times its normal size, science-fiction style, baby expeller is something that defies the boundaries of physics and logic. If you haven’t seen it, it’s really a waste of time trying to describe it. Trust me. And movies don’t do it justice. The only thing more mind-blowing is what I call the car-wreck of childbirth. The last thing you could ever expect. The thing that once you see, you can never forget.

A delicacy in some cultures…

I remember after our first baby was born. She was all cleaned up and swaddled like a perfect little burrito. She was dwarfed in my arms as tears streamed down my face. Then I glanced over to my wife as the doctor returned to what I call the Red Zone, or if you prefer, The Crease (pick you favorite sports metaphor). Either way, it’s the triangular air space between the stirrups. With my vision slightly blurred from the tears, I managed to focus on the – new – most indescribable thing I’ve ever seen. Those of you who have made my same mistake know I’m referring to the PLACENTA. Nobody tells you about the placenta, but they should.

Warning #2: Yucky description ahead. Imagine a gnarled up, four-pound, crimson and purple, veiny, London broil. Now imagine this gloppy blob come flying out of the same sacred canal that your baby just came from, along with pints of equally nasty fluids. And here’s the fun part. The doctor needs to essentially reconstruct the placenta to make sure it’s all accounted for. Kind of a vaginal “no child left behind,” policy. I was mesmerized.

The second time around, I had the presence-of-mind to take a photograph. I have a photo widget on my iMac that randomly frames pictures of the kids and stuff. Needless to say, MRS wasn’t too pleased when the placenta close-up rocked her world one day. She deleted it. Fortunately I have the photo on my laptop, too. I’d put it on the blog but I think she’d kill me.

Back on track

Considering I started out intending to write a Breast v. Formula essay, I suppose I should get to it.

Here’s the deal. Women get a lot of pressure to breastfeed. But there are plenty of reasons not too, such as: baby can’t clamp on, nipples are too big, mom’s just not down with it (more common than you would think), mom has to go back to work, adoption, various health situations, etc. Bottom line. Don’t sweat it. There is nothing wrong with formula. I don’t think I ever had a drop of breast milk and I turned out fairly normal…well, normal enough. And after one pumping session, my wife said, “screw this,” and we became a formula house. Our kids are fine. Sure, breast milk is nature’s smoothie, but don’t let the gangs of radical Earth Mamas scare you into thinking your baby will suffer without it. Just be prepared to drop some major dinero on the stuff. Make sure you hit up your pediatrician for as many free samples as you can finagle.

To summarize on Beast v. Formula: I’m pro-choice. Sorry. Didn’t mean to get all political.

And for you new guys heading into the delivery room for the first time, or you veterans who have yet to have the stones or court vision in prior deliveries: Go ahead and check out the placenta. I dare you!

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson October 5, 2007

    I am still recovering from the horror of The Pump. If you think it is bad for you, just think of what it feels like to be a human milker.

  • comment avatar Ashley October 5, 2007

    I am still reeling over the trauma of the placenta. Or those freaks who actually EAT it.

  • comment avatar kari October 5, 2007

    My husband HAS to read this. I think he is your kindred spirit.

  • comment avatar Lizzy October 6, 2007

    You think this isn’t sexy stuff? What is wrong with you? It may not be sexy having to watch it, but just how sexy do you think we feel after DOING it?

  • comment avatar Jamie October 6, 2007

    Mitch – you rock! Go Rockies!

  • comment avatar Nicki October 10, 2007

    Pro-choice. I like it. Formula lets new moms get some sleep if dad is willing. Breast may be best, but a new mom who is not sleeping is SCARY.

  • comment avatar d-town_dad October 10, 2007

    C-sections are traumatic to witness as well. Her belly is sliced wide, skin is flipped over, organs are resting outside the body, and you can see inside her body like a carved turkey.

    Pumping is definitely up there too. Nothing will switch you to a “leg man” like seeing her hooked up to the dairy equipment.

  • comment avatar d-town_dad October 10, 2007

    PS: Both our kids rejected formula and bottles very quickly, so my poor sweet wife had no way out:(

    And I’m know it’s infinitely worse to actually give birth, have a c-section, pump, breastfeed, etc. than it is to watch these things, but us paternal types need to talk about these things.

    Right?

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