You are going to be 5 weeks old tomorrow and you are growing to be a beauty already. Your cheeks are starting to look like little peaches and your eye lashes are getting long. Just want you to know that you've been the most amazing baby. You eat really well, you make lovely big poops, and you even sleep at night for 4-5 hours straight! You and I have been chatting a lot about the whole feeding thing while sitting there on the blue couch trying to work things out. But I figure you probably won't remember any of our chats. That's why I am writing you this letter. One day, you'll be old enough to read it.
There is this altar we call motherhood. I think women's brains are hard-wired to bring sacrifices on it to ensure their babies grow up to be healthy, happy, and successful. We try to give you the best food, send you to the best school, make sure you end up going to Harvard, and settle for nothing but the best flower arrangements for your wedding. We obsess about these things as if they make all the difference, and if we settle for less than perfection, we think we've ruined your whole life and failed as mothers. The very first of these tests comes in the form of milk and the most important decision of our parenting career so far has been whether to breastfeed you or give you formula.
Yes, breastfeeding is the gold standard for baby nutrition. It's the most perfect food. Unfortunately, life is not always perfect and there is no such thing as a free lunch even when it's baby's lunch. The question we have to answer now is whether this perfection is worth the lofty price. Up until now, I was afraid to even pronounce the F word. I was determined to breastfeed you. When I heard that both of your grandmothers had a hard time with this oh-so-natural task, I decided to get as much education and help as necessary to make it happen. I took a breastfeeding class a few weeks before you were born, I saw 3 lactation consultants in the hospital during your first 2 days of life. I've joined a lactation support group for Moms like me who just weren't getting it right, and when all else failed I've seen one of the best lactation consultants in Boston from 3 private sessions. The most important thing everyone tried to teach me is that you absolutely must breastfeed even if your breasts fall off. The first thing they told us in the breastfeeding class is that you can't go into it with an attitude that you'll *try* to breastfeed. You have to think that you *will* breastfeed. Trust me, I really was going to breastfeed you until you were 1 years old. But after trying the ice, the heat, the tea bags, lanolin, nipple butter, prescription nipple ointment, and pumping, my breasts are still in bad shape. At first, we used to think it's the latch. We've made great progress on that since the beginning -- the left breast is doing pretty well, and the right breast is at least a little better now that I started using the prescription ointment. But the plugged ducts and pores aren't getting better no matter what. We also have the problem of the right breast squirting straight into your little mouth, which I am sure is not much fun. You usually start frowning and squirming whenever I give you that breast. The good news is that you are doing well and gaining weight, though Dr. Kerbel thinks you could be gaining a little more. Seems like I just barely have enough milk and it always makes me panic that you'll be hungry and I'll have nothing to give you.
The worst part of all this is that I've been hanging in there between the states of slight discomfort (on really good days) and pretty strong pain. As much as I try to handle all this gracefully, I've been one very stressed Mommy lately, and this has been hard on everyone. You get edgy when you feel that I am stressed, and Daddy found us both in tears a number of times when he got home from work. So the bottom line is that as wonderful as breastfeeding can be, it's making the mental health of our whole family go down the toilet. So for the first time, we are considering gradually switching you to formula. Whether we'll do it or not, I just want you to know that you are the most important person in our life and we only want what's best for you. We just figured that having a sane and cheerful Mommy is more important than a few more antibodies you could get from my milk.
I am starting to come to terms with the fact that I will not be a perfect parent. And that's ok. Your Dad always told me that no parents are perfect, and somehow kids turn out just fine. He is really wise your Dad. One day, you'll be able to talk to him, and you'll find out that he is the coolest guy ever! But this parenting imperfection is hard for me to accept. I am a perfectionist. I know that this is not the first decision I'll struggle with. I'll probably drive us all nuts about what school you should go to and which AP classes you should take. That's why kids get 2 parents -- to keep things balanced. I'll finish up now because you are about to wake up, and I'll get to hold you, cuddle you, and feed you.
With all my love, hugs, and kisses,