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My children have learned a lot this year about life by having a new baby in the house. They’ve seen diapers filled with yellow goo. They’ve learned that babies can be born in two different ways — either by cutting the mom open or “the other way”. But one of the more shocking things they have learned has to do with how some babies are fed.
When their new baby sister came home from the hospital, I had not prepared them for the news of how she would obtain her nourishment. I only had time to give them a brief explanation before she started crying.
“You’re going to do WHAT?!?” they exclaimed.
Since then, the kids have gotten used to this strange form of feeding her, sans the bottles they always see on television and in books. My 9-year-old still uses his hand to shield his eyes if he senses he might be coming into the general proximity of me nursing the baby. My 7-year-old son, on the other hand, loves to see the baby cuddled up next to me and listens for her cute sounds.
I’ve never had much success in getting my babies to drink from a bottle.
With my firstborn, I had a little hand pump and I used it dutifully to store up milk for him. As soon as he had dropped one of his early morning feedings, I would continue to get up at that dark, solitary hour to pump. I filled ziplock baggies with milk and stored them in the freezer.
My husband would then carefully heat the milk in bottles to the precise temperature and try to feed him. He would scream in torture at this insult. “How dare you try to feed me apart from my warm mommy!” he would wail in baby screams.
We moved from our apartment when he was 7 months old, and I cried as we tossed those frozen bags of milk in the garbage. All of those early mornings spent extracting my own milk like I was both a farmer and a cow had been for nothing.
I tried again producing bottles of milk for my other two children, but their reaction was much the same.
So, from the day Baby #4 was born, I swore that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, would be important enough for me to even attempt to pump.
And I held firmly to this view until a week ago when I hit the point of desperation. Baby #4 is a spitting machine. She spits up at least half of the milk she consumes. The doctor said we should try mixing her milk with cereal to help her keep more of it down.
And guess what? She actually will drink from a bottle! I’ve started supplementing her with formula, and a friend loaned me her fancy, electric pump to help.
I tried sneaking the machine into the house without any of the kids noticing. Oh, but nothing slips past my boys who spend all of their free time playing detective.
They demanded an explanation for this new piece of machinery that had entered our home.
“So, it’s sort of like a vacuum?” the 7-year-old decided.
A few days ago, he overheard me talking about a friend who had adopted a newborn and was looking for women to participate in a “milk sharing program”. I had not heard of this, and I was intrigued. He wanted a complete explanation for how this would work.
“So, they’ll use the vacuum?” he asked, very matter-of-factly.
Yep. The vacuum.
Well, I’m sure my son will be telling his friends about his mom’s new vacuum and news will soon spread about all of the cleaning that is happening over here. But please don’t be alarmed if you visit. The carpets are just as dirty as ever.