A Dad’s Opinion on Breastfeeding
Hello there! My name is James, and I fully support the breastfeeding mothers of the world.
“Ahhhh,” you say, “he must come from California.”
Nope. I live in New England.
“Well, then he must be one of those “dot edu” types: all lectures, tweed coats, and lettuce leaves all day.”
Wrong again! I drive an 18-wheeler across all 48 states, and my ever-expanding beltline gives sincere testimony to my love affair with bacon cheeseburgers.
I also have a serious love affair with my wife, which people sometimes find hard to believe. You know, with my being a truck driver, her being a breastfeeding mom, and with three kids to boot. There’s people out there who think it’s not possible for a woman to breastfeed her kids and still keep her man happy. Like Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of TLC’s Shalom in the Home, who in 2006 used God as a reason to advise a mother that by breastfeeding “she had committed the cardinal sin of marriage, which is to put someone else before her spouse, even if that someone is your child . . . her obsession had turned one of her most attractive body parts into a feeding station, an attractive cafeteria rather than a scintillating piece of flesh.”
Um, alright. Let me give the opinion of a real (satisfied) Dad with a real breastfeeding wife and real breastfed children.
My wife has fantastic boobs. I love them. I could fill up the rest of this post telling how I feel about them, but there’s not enough time or room to do the subject justice.
When I first met my wife, her boobs were mine.
She wore special bras to make them look a certain way . . . for me.
She would wear lacy things on them to make them a sultry sight . . . for me.
When she took them out she was taking them out . . . for me.
Then came the children.
At that time our roles changed, as well they should.
We were still awake at 4AM. But instead of a post -Karaoke and -beer gathering at Der Waffle House, it was tiptoeing away from a (please lord this time) lightly dozing bundle of noise. Our job as parents, above all else, is to provide the best start in life to our little adults-to-be. To this end it seems obvious to me that the best food for baby comes from its mother. Let’s review that one more time . . . the best vitamin-laced, antibody-rich, brain-growing-fat-having, pre-heated, sterile, portable nummy goodness comes from the MOTHER.
So back to the good Rabbi’s word . . . do you really think God (or whatever name you use), having created us in their image and oh by the way witnessing a few thousand millennia of successful child rearing, would suddenly turned around circa 1950 and pronounce . . .holy crap! . . . that whole mother’s milk thing was a mistake! . . . boobs are just scintillating pieces of flesh to keep men happy in marriage! what to do?? how do we feed the babies now?? . . . wait, wait, got it! . . . Dear Nestlé, please make some petrified dehydrated powdery stuff in a distant factory, get some doctors on board and sell, sell, sell. There, that ought to fix the problem.
Look, we’re parents now. My wife’s underwear drawer is still full of special bras.
But now they have funny trap doors on them . . . for Cooper.
She still gets her boobs out . . . but now it’s for Cooper (ever see a father and son drool simultaneously?!)
My “boobs” have become his “breasts”. And before Cooper they belonged to Willow, and before Willow they belonged to Patrick . . . . I still have a timeshare option that has become vested, but I haven’t had outright ownership since 2004. And that’s exactly the way it should be. It’s not the same as when it was just me and her, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.
Guys listen, the reason that the bedroom activity slows down after birth has nothing to do with boob allocation schedules (thanks for the input anyway, oh wise Rabbi). It has everything to do with hormone adjustments and lack of sleep. (Oh, and by the way fellas, as those lean weeks stretch into lean months, a maid service and a day spa is going to get you a lot further than whining about when is it going to be “your” turn). Give her your support and do not put pressure on her to stop. She and the baby will find their own way. The mother is the quarterback of Team Baby, you are the waterboy. Shut up and do your job.
Go buy a comfy couch – if you want to sleep you may be spending a lot of nights there.
I have spent more nights dragging my pillow out of the bedroom at 2:30 in the morning in the vague direction of the living room than I care to remember. But at least that way I can get some sleep, so can the now-free-to-spread-out-and-not-worry-about-disturbing-me mother, and the baby gets a midnight miracle-grow top up.
I don’t relish the split shift nights, but as a husband and father my job is to support my wife when she is obviously more knowledgeable and better equipped to make decisions about these things than I am. Common sense, really.
The comments from Rabbi Boteach, whilst probably drummed up to get attention, can still be dangerous and lead to the continued and unfair stigma attached to one of the natural cornerstones of parenthood.
Every day your child gets to breastfeed is a gift, a treasure that has longstanding physical and psychological benefits for both mother and baby.
Support them, encourage them, buy flowers and pretty shoes, put a spare sheet behind the sofa, relish the way your marriage has changed and grown instead of moaning about the way it used to be, and be a proud, proud breastfeeding Dad.