I'm Not Pro-Breastfeeding. I'm Not Pro-Bottle. I'm Pro-Mom.

I'm not Pro Breast - I'm Not Pro Bottle - I'm Pro Mom and you should be too

Last week I read about an initiative that’s spreading across the country which truly emanates a lack of support for some new moms.  Although I touched on my opinion on the subject in a recent post I called, “I don’t care about your parenting,” I thought I’d delve a little deeper into an issue that seems to spark so much controversy.  You know it as one of the major battles in the on-going mommy wars – breastfeeding.
These days simply putting the word breastfeeding into a blog post is like chumming the sea, and despite my first instinct being to yell “Get out of the water!” I want to believe that deep down, we all are operating under the assumption that we’re on the same team. That’s why I’m going to try to ride this one out; I just hope I don’t need a bigger boat.
Last week, in my homes state of Delaware, our hospitals announced that they’ve become the 3rd in the nation to ‘Ban the Bags.’  This initiative removes the samples of formula provided free of charge in gift bags that are given to new moms and baby when they are discharged from the hospital.  The reason given at a recent press conference was “When health care providers distribute formula, it is an implicit endorsement of formula even if that is not what was intended.
Formula, which is still part of the overall cost of your hospital stay after giving birth here in Delaware, will be provided if you request it.  You are just no longer permitted to receive the FREE formula that companies are willing to provide at no cost to the hospital, state, or new moms.
Do you know what does cost money?
Initiatives like ‘Ban the Bag.’
Instead of putting money into providing additional education for expecting mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding, or providing additional support for new moms after they leave the hospital, or even for providing employers the education and incentives to help working moms who are breastfeeding, Delaware, along with two others, have decided to put man hours and money behind an initiative to remove free of charge formulas to mothers who may or may not choose to bottle feed their babies.
Congratulations, Delaware!  You’re third in line to accomplish nothing!  This is a giant step nowhere!
When my oldest was born, ten years ago now, I had planned to nurse.  I received some help in the hospital from the nursing staff, and I also had a lactation specialist visit my room.  I was a nervous new mom, but breastfeeding wasn’t as hard as I had feared, and we settled in quite easily. In fact, breastfeeding was a breeze… until it wasn’t.
No, it’s not what you might think if you are a ‘Ban the Bag’ supporter; although I did receive free formula – a small can of powder formula from Enfamil and four small ready to feed bottles of Similac- that didn’t influence my breastfeeding decision.  I didn’t look in my free bag, and think that the hospital, which helped me start nursing, wanted me to stop and use this free formula.
No, I stopped because I returned to work.  I was working four days a week at the time for ten hours a day, and I was told by my employer that as a nursing mother, I was welcomed to pump while I was at work…in the bathroom.
I didn’t even like to pee in that bathroom, so it certainly was not up to my standards for infant meal prep, which forced me to continue to nurse as often as my body allowed while I was at home.  I tried to pump more in between feedings on my three days off, and I’d nurse as soon as I returned from my ten hour shift, but after a while my body couldn’t keep up with the schedule, and my son was on strictly formula by the time he was six months old.
Fast forward two years and my second son is born.  Since this isn’t my first rodeo, I’m not worried about nursing and plan on doing it as long as possible. Unfortunately, I’m still with the same employer working a Monday-Friday eight hour shift, but I’ll deal with that after my maternity leave. I’m confident and ready to nurse, but he doesn’t want to latch.  Every feeding is a struggle, and I’m worried he’s not getting any nutrients.  Nurses who are very attentive and patient, assist us the best they can, and a lactation specialist struggles to help me make progress.
We’re sent home having zero successful feedings under our belts.  I call several area breastfeeding support groups and speak to several lactation advisers who try to talk me through it – reminding me not so subtly that breast is best and I’ll be doing my baby a real detriment if I switch to formula.  I pay several hundred dollars for a hospital grade dual-breast pump and spend the next eight weeks not leaving the house, hooked up to a breast pump for every single feeding, and worried about the harm that will surely befall my new baby if I can’t keep up my supply.  No one from the hospital offers any breastfeeding support once I leave.  No one comes to my home or tells me to visit a healthcare facility for breastfeeding assistance. No one tells my employer that the bathrooms are still not suitable to pee, let alone to pump.  It’s just me, my new baby, my overwhelming anxiety, and the seemingly constant hum of the breast pump.  I switch to formula by 12 weeks.
Fast forward another two years.  I’ve quit my job to stay at home with my kids now, and my daughter is born.  I’m back to feeling nervous about nursing given the tremendous failure the last time, but she’s a natural and I spend the next nine months nursing until I decide to wean her.  There are several times where I’m stuck on a field trip, or she’s with a sitter and I’m at the doctor’s with a sick sibling and she receives formula – probably the free samples that were given when we left the hospital – but it doesn’t impact her nursing.
No mother should ever feel as bad as I did after I had my second child, and by ‘Banning the Bag,’ Delaware is the third to say, “We don’t support you!” to Moms who formula feed.
Every mother deserves our support, regardless of circumstance.
So instead of initiative like ‘Ban the Bag,’ which clearly cast a shadow on mothers who choose to bottle feed, perhaps our time, efforts and money are better spent elsewhere.
Where’s the additional education for expecting mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding?
Where’s the additional support when moms leave the hospital?
Where’s the support for mothers who need to return to work?
Equally disappointing as this initiative, was the truly hateful, hurtful comments that Moms on both sides of this “issue” were making to each other.  There were few voices calling for support for all moms, and we were back to battling it out in the comments sections of the internet’s subcategory, “The Mommy Wars.”
So before you call out another mom, ask yourself are your comments aimed at truly being helpful?  Is what you’re saying offering encouragement, or are you simply chastising, belittling or telling another mom, “You’re wrong!”
This doesn’t have to be an issue that divides anyone, and if babies are being loved and fed, I don’t see it as the issue at all.
We need more support.
We need more education.
We need real changes that will help new moms.
I’m not Pro-Breastfeeding and I’m not Pro-Bottle.  I’m Pro-Mom and you should be too.
Susan McLean is a mother, blogger, and humorist who writes at The Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva.com.  Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, Redbook.com, LA Time and more. She was also one of the contributing authors to the New York Times Best-Selling Humor Anthology, I Just Want to Pee Alone.  You can find Susan on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Please, Kids, Five More Minutes

Summer vacation certainly seems luxurious and decadent for a stay-at-home mom.  Imagine no set alarms or real reason to rise early in the morning.  I live for non-busy weekends, holidays and vacations, so I can sleep in.  And yet, it rarely happens due to a major wrench in my dreamy plans…my kids.

Sleeping in is a treasured teenage pastime.  I loved snuggling in bed and not moving.  Of course, I never slept till noon because of my mom.  She’d drive me crazy by walking into my room at a “reasonable hour” and snapping up the shades.  Before that, through the mist of slumber, I could hear her (intentionally?) banging pots and pans together in the kitchen.  She just wanted us to enjoy the bright, glorious, sunshiny day! Throwing a pillow at her wasn’t an option.

Anatomy of Date Night

Any married couple with children knows how elusive time alone with one's spouse can be.  
Some days Hubby and I barely say three words to each other. When he comes home from work, I hardly have time to give him a peck and ask about his day before three little boys bombard him, all clamoring for his attention.  We can forget having a conversation at the dinner table.  While I feed the baby and try to get Lil C to eat anything, Hubby is trying to keep our older two at the table.

After dinner there are clean-up and bedtime routines and a baby to put to bed. By the time the chaos dies down and everyone is asleep, Hubby and I are both so tired, so desperate for a little quiet time in our own heads, we often retire to separate rooms of the house to watch t.v. or work on our computers.

When we were first married, we made pact that we would go out on a real date every month. One month he would plan, the next I would and so on. It worked for a while, until we got busy with our twins, and then we moved across the country.

And then we had more kids. And then cancer. And then we were grieving. And then I was pregnant, again. You get the gist.

There is never going to be more time Life is never going to slow down.  Hubby always says, "It's just going to keep getting harder." The past eight years have taught me this is true.
But, regardless, I knew we needed a night out. So, I secured a babysitter and planned a nice dinner for Hubby and me at a trendy restaurant in an up-and-coming part of town. I even wore a dress! We were both looking foward to that much-needed alone time.

What follows is a break-down of our evening.

Don't Pinch My Baby's Cheeks!

What is with strangers touching my kids? I don't mean touching-touching, because that's nothing to joke about. I mean people coming up and patting my son's head with their grubby mitts, pinching my daughter's chubby cheeks, or trying to hold one of their cute, irresistible hands.

Resist, I say. You're being weird.

Misophonia. Which Means OHMYGODPLEASESHUTUP!

My husband is eating a blackberry five inches from my face, and it’s as loud as fuck. I lean back and give him the evil eye, and he knows he needs to stop making the noise immediately or I am going to throw him down. He laughs, takes a step closer, crunches louder and in my ear, tells me I’m crazy. I run out of the room, my heart pounding. He’s the one capable of making a blackberry crunch at epic decibels. Clearly, the crazy one here is him!
I have been told I am not the most normal person in certain situations. When someone sneezes in a car, I roll down my window with the urgency of a crack addict looking for another hit. When we go to Costco to buy toilet paper in bulk, and some lazy asshole is dragging his feet on the concrete floor, I feel like I’m going to vomit. When we go to the movies and get trapped between mouth-stuffing popcorn eaters, I need to move my seat.

An Open Letter to My Sons About Peeing in the Toilet

To My Dear Sons,

I love you more than my own life. There’s probably not much I wouldn’t do for you, including giving you that last bite of my ice cream. I mean…if I’m stupid enough to eat something yummy in your presence instead of hiding behind the bathroom door like any sane mom would do, I figure its fair game and I should probably just give up and share.

I’m a good mom…mostly. I lied and told your father the cat knocked over his genuine made-in-Bavaria beer stein.

This Wasn't What I Ordered

Although all four of my children are now (FINALLY) toilet-trained, we didn’t arrive at this Everest of excretory management without some seriously shitty experiences. I never knew that motherhood would force me to tackle situations I would’ve shunned on a Fear Factor-type show even if they PAID ME to do them. I should add Waste Management to my LinkedIn profile. Anyways, whenever the filthy word “blowout” comes up, one situation from my diaper-changing days in particular comes to mind.

After dealing with the various explosions of four kids, that's quite a feat. I thought I had seen it all in the way of poopsplosions; a veteran mom of babies that couldn’t be affected by whatever they put out, gave off, or threw up. One hot afternoon, in the middle of July, I handled the most massive, disgusting diaper blowout of my life.

I Just Cannot Stop Being Awkwardly Naked in Front of Strangers

One would think that after four-ish decades in this skin I might have learned a few lessons about my ability to handle being naked in front of other people.

You would be wrong.

I mean, I do know that I don't like it. I can just about handle it when medically necessary, but I’ve never been one to comfortably change in front of my girlfriends or skinny dip—no matter how much tequila was involved.

Top 50 Things I Could Do Before I Had Kids

I made this list with the help of lots of parents who were asked to list just ONE thing they could do BEFORE they had kids. I was expecting a few responses, but I was overwhelmed with all the responses. I had to put together a list.

50.  Talk on the phone.
49.  Eat a snack alone.
48.  Wear a bikini.
47.  Shop for clothes for an adult.
46.  Read a book.
45.  Travel on short notice.
44.  Have a clean house.
43.  Laugh without peeing or crossing my legs.

The Angry Exerciser

I’ve always had a Love/Loathe relationship with exercise – mostly Loathe. But there have been times in my life that I have actually loved it, even though that love was an Angry Love. Let me explain. The first time I recall ever consistently exercising, I was 20 years old and in desperate need of an exercise regimen outside of lifting beer mugs and slices of pizza to my greasy lips. I was living and working in a college town, having been ousted from the college itself with a .8 grade point average.  My dad had promptly pulled the plug on financial support, but I stayed in town because I was dating a townie who worked at JC Penney. VERY promising. I got a job working as a drug store cashier to continue paying my rent, and my roommate happened to work at Pizza Hut, so her free pizza perks kept our grocery budget down. It didn’t, however, have the same effect on my weight. I gained thirty pounds in the span of a year and a half, and even though my ass was the size of Texas, I couldn’t get it up and motivated to do any exercise at all. Until I got dumped by Mr. JC Penney.

Fixed It

I know a few mamas who really deserve kudos. Every. Damn. Day. they plan their kids' meals, shop for locally-sourced produce, and create colorful Bento boxes that trick their children into believing poached Brussel sprouts are Olaf's green cousin.
There is zero chance I am going to join the ranks of these Pinterest-worthy mamas. I can barely toss a salad with kids underfoot, and my standard toddler menu comes from the frozen food aisle. So what do the rest of us do? Wallow in the shame of our culinary inadequacies?
No, I say!
I have a solution that requires nothing more than a few adjectives. Your menu? I fixed it. And your grocery cart looks exactly the same.
Formerly: Mac n Cheese with Hot Dog
Fixed it: Al dente pasta elbows with whole cheese and sliced all-beef sausage

Romance, Parent Style

 Few things tell you how far gone you are into parenthood as an attempt at romance.
1) Your attempt at being romantic starts with, “Are the kids sleeping?” “How long will they nap for?” or, “When is the playdate over?”

2) Forget romantic music. You need to be able to hear little footsteps approaching.

3) When planning to don lingerie, you also plan to keep a blanket handy at all times, so that you can do the Shuffle of Shame to your bedroom when someone unexpectedly shows up in the doorway. “Whatcha doing, Mommy?” “Scarring you for life, Kid. You're welcome.”

Which Mom Are You At Drop Off?

Now that I am several years into being a "school mom," I have observed that there are several categories (and subcategories) of moms who drop their kids off at school.

Category 1: The Working Mom

I envy her but I don't envy her. I envy how put together she looks in her Ann Taylor clothes. I envy that her hair is actually blow-dried. I don't envy that I know she has been up since 4:30 am. And not like I have often been "up" since 4:30 am, with a screaming teething baby, half asleep in the rocking chair with baby snoozing on my chest, a small spittle of drool dripping down my chin. I mean that mom has been UP since 4:30. Running around, getting herself ready, her kids ready, hopefully not also her husband ready. But she looks amazing and I... do not.

To the Person Who Offended Me and My Mom Friends On the Internet

To the Person Who Offended Me and My Mom Friends On the Internet

Dear Offensive,

I saw your little joke on the internet. I bet you thought it was hilarious. Well, it’s time to wipe the smile off your winky emoji, sister.

What you obviously didn’t realize is that the words you chose (particularly the fifth and seventh ones, which I will not repeat here) have a coded and offensive meaning known only to me and moms who have experienced the same exact thing I have.

Dirty F'in Liars

When you become a parent at some point you will have an epiphany that your mom and dad were big fat liars when you were growing up. They made up stories about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and even concocted elaborate schemes to keep you from suspecting the truth. They told you too much TV will rot your brain when the truth is they just wanted you out of the house so they could have 5 minutes of peace.  They also said babies are made when 2 people love each other get married and leave out that it can also happen when there is too much booze involved to take the proper precautions, or when the condom breaks. 

All parents do this. It is a survival tactic. If you say you don’t lie to your kids then you are a dirty F’n liar; lying to yourself and everyone around you.

How to Sort Through Your Kid's Classroom Folder in 12 Easy Steps

Every afternoon when my kids come home from school, they barrel up the stairs, unzip their backpacks, pull out their half eaten lunches, and thrust their classroom folders in my general direction at precisely the same time.
It’s a pivotal moment. The contents of the dreaded classroom folder will dictate how the rest of my day and evening goes. In other words, there is a direct correlation between the cornucopia of shit that comes out of there and the amount of stress I’m going to have to endure.
But now that my oldest is in fifth grade, I’ve had a few years to figure out a sorting system that’s really made a difference. Believe me the last thing you want do is just open up the folder and go through it willy-nilly. That’s what the dumb moms do.

The Mediocre Mom's Guide to Surviving Kids

So you’ve got kids. Wishing someone had sufficiently warned you about just how much they can test your sanity? I understand. Life’s pretty tolerable when they’re at school, but when they’re not? Things can get hairy. (No, really. Why is there fucking hair all over the bathroom floor?) Look. As much as you’d like to keep them there, they have to come home once in a while, which means you have to suit up for battle.

The key to surviving this shit is in not giving a fuck. About pretty much anything. Okay with being the World’s Okayest Mom? Excellent. Then this is for you: The Mediocre Mom’s Guide to Surviving Kids. Take notes. (Or don’t. That shit’s for overachievers anyway.)

Mom Jealousy

Oh jealousy, you fickle fiend, always rearing your grumpy green head at the absolute worst moment.  As if I wasn’t stressed enough – planning my son’s first birthday and traveling back and forth between the Florida coasts to visit family – that familiar feeling decided to come creeping up recently.  Logically, I know it’s just my own insecurities making me feel like I’m losing some imaginary mom competition (Mompetition?), but that doesn’t seem to help me shake the feeling.

A Letter to the New Autism Parent

Dear Parent,

Welcome to Club Spectrum! You didn't want to be here. Don't feel bad about that. No one signs up for this gig. Think of it this way, at least you now know what the Hell is going on. Better than not knowing at all. Mama Fry ain't no expert but I do have some tips that help you from going bat shit crazy.

1)Pace yourself. You are about to start a never ending marathon.

Know when to take a break. Embrace the couch and some bad TV.

Or if you are one of those gym goers, do that. Avid reader?

Go fire up that kindle or go old school and buy a few books. You're going to have a lot of time in therapy waiting rooms. Might as well enjoy reading some check your brain at the door novels. Know it's okay to get absolutely nothing done on some days. Or weeks.

I Just Want to Pee at Home

It took a lot to gross me out.

I was a Pediatric GI nurse for years before I had my own babies. It was my job to deal with the foulest body fluids that exited people. I could describe diarrhea over lunch like it was the last movie I saw. I also lived in the city: urban life has grit, subway smells, homeless people walking around with “mystery stains” on their clothes, and a special kind of filth that you just don’t get in the suburbs. If you can have early pregnancy nausea in the city, working on a GI unit, you are made of some strong stuff.

But Motherhood has a way of changing you. And it wasn’t until I had my second child, that I hit the perfect storm of disgusting.

10 Things I Want to Say to My Gynecologist

1. Can we skip the weigh in? I’m bloated twenty days out of every month. I don’t need three glaring numbers reminding me to skip Burger King on the way home. Can we do a visual estimation and call it good? She looks larger than last time but is not quite ready for a Richard Simmons intervention works for me.