The Babes and the Boobs

As mentioned in my previous posts, shortly before midnight on August 28th, my husband and I welcomed a daughter into our family.  We had kept the gender a surprise and were both prepared for another boy, so when she emerged a little girl there was much joyful weeping and disbelief, followed shortly by a staggering parade of pink cotton clothing.  YAY!

She is, of course, perfect.  Round head, little nose, all those tiny fingers and toes…and the simple fact that every night since her first at home she has slept at least one 5-6 hour stretch has us convinced that she is, in fact, made of sugar and spice and everything nice.  (Nevermind that really she smells faintly of sour milk.)

The past month has, as expected, been a total blur.  There are the standout joyful moments: my husband and I holding hands across the center console of the car while our two beautiful babes snooze peacefully in the back seat on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  And there are the less-perfect ones: my husband nearly throwing out his back in a desperate, blind attempt to locate a hysterical Babygirl’s pacifier in her carseat, Babyman shrieking “Maaa-meeee! Maaa-meeee! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”, all while I, at the wheel, careen across the Bay Bridge chanting “We just have to get home, we just have to get home, we just have to get home.”  For example.

But for me, the first month is chiefly characterized by one thing: nursing.

A rather large handful of close girlfriends from college are all pregnant right now, and breastfeeding has been a hot topic on our email exchanges.  It’s been amazing to me to hear friends in other parts of the country describe the way the neo-natal nurses tried to force formula on them in the first few days.  Because let me tell you, sister: I live in San Francisco and in the hallowed halls of the CPMC maternity ward, the word “formula” is like shouting “Voldemort” at Hogwarts.  It just isn’t done.  Having trouble with the latch?  The lactation consultant will be along shortly.  Chaffed, bleeding, suffering, cringing in pain?  Here’s some Motrin and a lanolin ointment and again, the lactation consultant will be along.  Just stick with it.  It gets easier.

And it does.  In many ways.

Babygirl’s incredible nighttime sleep is made possible by her tendency to cluster feed during the day.  She is also a boob-snoozer, which means our feedings come about 90 minutes apart and last an inefficient 45 minutes or so of combined eating and sleeping.  In short, I spend the majority of the day topless on the couch, pinned down by the Brest Friend (such a clever play on words!), which has been quite the anatomy lesson for Babyman.

It began with his amazed observation that “Mommy, you have TWO MILKERS!”  Now, of course, he is an expert and readily regales friends and family with tales of how Mommy makes milk come out of her belly — sometimes helpfully pulling up his own shirt and pointing to his own “feeding things” to clarify his point.  The other day we had friends over for breakfast and Babyman inquired as to why I was wearing a shirt.  “Because when friends come over I wear clothes,” was my lame response, with a sheepish glance at my (childless) girlfriend and her husband.

When I pulled out the breast pump for the first time, you would have thought it was the NASA moon landing.  Babyman literally climbed onto my lap to get a closer look at the mechanics of the operation, until my husband walked into the room (thank God), took one look at my abject horror (my life has come to this???) and lured Babyman into the kitchen.  I now pump alone at 3am.  Which is super-fun.

But as you move past the pain of the early days, and if you stick a little pin in how much time it takes, and embrace the fact that you were basically designed for this, there is no denying the unparalleled sweetness of a milk-drunk newborn, all lazy eyes rolling up at you and soft coos of contentment.  During our long maternity-leave days of endless eating, as I pat Babygirl on her back and help the little gas bubbles out, I whisper to her: I congratulate her on being such a good burper, tell her she is special and beautiful, tell her I love her and I love her brother and I always will, even if it seems, lately, like I yell at him a lot, but he’s three and going through a phase, and life is full of phases, as she will come to know someday, when she is all grown up and nursing her own babies, and then she will also know about the love, the love, the love…and anyway, what should we make for dinner tonight, and would she like to sit in her bouncy chair or lie on the play mat?

Of course she understands nothing of my delirious, post-partum monologues.  But I believe she knows that when she is hungry (again), I will take her in my arms and feed her.  And for now that’s enough.


  1. Hey, just stopped by to see if you had by any chance managed to blog about the first month, so glad you have. Enjoyed catching up with your life. KP & I used to watch Countdown, topless, in our separate houses, at 4 or 5 AM. Strange blurry days and very hard to imagine once they're gone. Enjoy the good of it. xx

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