I am a mother of a 3 1/2 month-old boy, and I do not breastfeed.  It took me about three months to be able to say that sentence without feeling like I need to crawl under a rock and hide afterwards.  Here is how I got to this point.

As a first-time mom, I did a lot of Internet reading before I had the baby and read up on countless tips on how to take care of a newborn, what kind of gear to pack in a diaper bag, what exactly a “receiving blanket” is, etc.  I didn’t read anything about breastfeeding because I thought that was going to be the easy part.  In all of my Internet browsing, nothing ever jumped out and said “Make sure you read up on nursing, because it is going to be harder than you think!”  That would have been tremendously helpful, because I had no idea how difficult it was going to be, both physically and emotionally.

Why wasn’t this like the pictures on all of those breastfeeding books with the tranquil woman nursing her baby with a serene look on her face?

I gave birth to my baby boy and nursed him while we were in the hospital without much instruction.  It seemed to be working okay, but it hurt.  A lot.  Sometimes it was difficult to get him to latch properly.  A couple of lactation consultants stopped in here and there but, like I said, there wasn’t a huge emphasis placed on education in this particular hospital.  We went home a couple of days later and things only got harder after that.  Breastfeeding continued to be extremely painful to the point where I would be biting down on the inside of my cheeks, curling my toes into a ball, tensing up, crying, the works.  Baby boy continued to have some problems latching, so we’d try over and over to get it right, but most times it just led to me feeling frustrated and very sad.  Why wasn’t this like the pictures on all of those breastfeeding books with the tranquil woman nursing her baby with a serene look on her face?  Why wasn’t SHE crying??

A day or two after being home, I was in even worse shape.  My boobs were a wreck (Earlier Internet reading had intimated that some nursing mothers may experience things like “dry, cracked, or bleeding nipples,” which always TERRIFIED me and was something I hoped to god I would not experience.  I did.); things like showering or just wearing a bra became painful.  We took baby boy for his first doctor’s appointment, where we found out that he had not put back on any of the weight he had lost in the hospital.  This is where I started to get really concerned.  Not only was this whole breastfeeding thing turning into a horrible experience – but now, I wasn’t even sure if the baby was getting enough of the nourishment he needed.

I finally broke down and gave him his first bottle of formula.

We went home and after another failed attempt at getting a good latch, I finally broke down and gave him his first bottle of formula.  I don’t know if you’ve done any Internet research on breastfeeding, but in case you haven’t: people feel VERY STRONGLY about its importance, and EQUALLY STRONGLY that FORMULA IS POISON.

So let’s recap.  I just had a baby.  I was an emotional wreck as it is.  I am a physical mess.  On top of that, I now felt like a complete failure as a mother and a woman in general.  Mothers are supposed to be able to feed their babies, and I could not do it.  Everywhere I turned for support, I was met with the “breast is best” mentality and was encouraged to keep it up, because it would get better.  This is not to say I did not appreciate the support and advice I received from friends and family.  I truly did want to breastfeed because I realize that, of course, there are antibodies, etc. in breastmilk that you can’t get in formula.


A day or so later, I admitted to myself that traditional breastfeeding was not going to be a viable option.  Just thinking about it kicked off all of these feelings of anxiety, which I knew would hinder any efforts I would make when we actually sat down to try it again.  I knew that if I kept it up, I would fall deeper into this depression that I could already feel forming inside me.  So, I pumped and I pumped.

I pumped every 2-3 hours for three weeks.  When I first started, baby boy was probably getting about 75% breastmilk and 25% formula.  As he got a little older, his intake went up, but my output stayed about the same (3oz max per pump).  So, the ratio started to shift a bit in favor of formula.  Then, another problem came up.  Instead of my milk supply going up with all of this pumping, it actually started to go down.  And yes, I did it all.  I ate oatmeal.  I took fenugreek.  I drank tons of water.  I ate a lot of calories even if I wasn’t hungry.  Nothing helped.  The only thing worse than the agony of breastfeeding was looking down at those bottles after pumping and seeing 1oz in each one.

It took me a while to give up on the pump.  I was still feeling pretty much like a failure and this was going to be the final nail in the coffin.  What ended up finally swaying me in the right direction was how much of a time suck it was.  Baby boy was eating every two hours – so, I would feed him, then put him down and pump.  And repeat.  And repeat.  When I added up all of the time that I was spending hooked up to the pump just to get a few measly ounces of breastmilk, it quickly accumulated to hours that I could be spending holding, cuddling, and bonding with my baby.

Three and a half weeks after having my baby, I ditched the pump and never looked back.  The guilt still remained for a while, but as my baby grew and became more awesome every day, it became less and less of a concern.  He is happy and healthy, and his mom and dad are happy, and that’s all that matters.

There were other people that gave their babies formula and–hey!–the world kept spinning.

During all of those hours I spent hooked up to the pump, I would often scour the Internet on my phone for any personal accounts of other women who opted to formula feed instead of breastfeed.  These types of blogs or articles are few and far between, but when I did find them, they made me feel so much better (FYI – you can’t just search “breastfeeding” or even “breastfeeding problems.”  You need to swallow your pride and search for terms like “I hate breastfeeding” or “I want to stop breastfeeding.”).  I just needed to know that there were other people out there in the same boat as me.  There were other people that gave their babies formula and–hey!–the world kept spinning.  And that’s why I came out of blog hibernation to write this.  I wanted to add this post to the small number of formula-feeding stories on the Internet that hopefully you will find hidden among all of the “breastfeed at all costs” stuff.  Again, I AM NOT KNOCKING BREASTFEEDING.  I think it’s great and I wish I could have done it.  I think what people need to understand is that it might not be meant for everyone.  So, if you’re like me, don’t let the negative stigma get you down.  Go with your gut because deep down, you know what’s best for you and your baby.

Further reading that helped me a lot:

The Case Against Breastfeeding (The Atlantic magazine)

The Ideal and the Real of Breastfeeding (New York Times)

10 Reasons I Hated Breastfeeding (Scarymommy.com)

As you may or may not have noticed, I haven’t been blogging very much lately.  There are two reasons for this.  One (1): I haven’t been baking as much, hence no baking posts.  Two (2): I haven’t been complaining as much, hence no rants and raves.  As a sort of pre-New Year’s resolution, I’ve been trying to be a better human being and to not complain about every little thing.  At least not publicly.

As a result, my posts have become few and far between, and will most likely cross over into the realm of the mundane.  Which brings me to today’s topic: My 2013 New Year’s Resolutions.  Usually, I don’t make resolutions because I think they’re stupid never followed through on them.  But, after dodging that huge bullet with the whole 2012 Apocolypse thing, I figured I’d give it a shot.  Why stop at complaining?  There must be other ways I can improve myself, right?  So, here we go:

2013 Goals

1.  Secure a full-time job.
2.  Stop cutting corners as they relate to food.  Spend more time on preparation to enjoy a more satisfying (or cost effective) end product.
            2a. Use our teapot instead of the microwave for making tea.
            2b. Peel and cut whole carrots instead of buying baby carrots for lunch.
            2c. Shred blocks of cheddar cheese instead of buying pre-shredded taco cheese.
3.  Buy at least one new pair of jeans.
4.  Begin a more comprehensive skin care regimen with the inclusion of some sort of pre-wrinkle or wrinkle-prevention cream.
5.  Continue to complain less.

I think that’s pretty much it.  Don’t want to get too crazy and overburden myself with too many resolutions.  But, I think if I accomplish these small things, I’ll be in good shape by next year.




Christmas Traditions

Every year around Christmastime, there are things that I traditionally watch, listen to, or read. This is one of them. It’s a little long, but if you can carve 15 minutes out of your day at some point between now and Christmas, I recommend a listen.

For further reading, check out David Sedaris’s essay, SantaLand Diaries, which chronicles his time spent working as an elf in Macy’s Herald Square. An excerpt:

Interpreters for the deaf came and taught us to sign “MERRY CHRISTMAS! I AM SANTA’S HELPER.” They told us to speak as we sign and to use bold, clear voices and bright facial expressions. They taught us to say “YOU ARE A VERY PRETTY BOY/GIRL! I LOVE YOU! DO YOU WANT A SURPRISE?”

My sister Amy lives above a deaf girl and has learned quite a bit of sign language. She taught some to me and so now I am able to say, “SANTA HAS A TUMOR IN HIS HEAD THE SIZE OF AN OLIVE. MAYBE IT WILL GO AWAY TOMORROW BUT I DON’T THINK SO.”

Merry Christmas!

This lovely ad just sprang up next to my Yahoo mail…

Is it because I blog so much about baked goods?

Hear me, Internet: I AM NOT FAT!! For your information, I am on Day Four of the Insanity workout!

Which, by the way, is definitely insane. I’m still getting used to it, so I’m not sure if I prefer it over P90X or not. It’s heavy on cardio while P90X was more of a combination of cardio and resistance training. Pro: the Insanity workouts are shorter. Con: Shaun T is not as entertaining as Tony Horton. Further investigation is needed for me to form a concrete opinion, but for now I’m getting insane in the membrane.

Anyway, Internet, let’s get back to the basics, shall we? Ads for shoes, clothing…I can handle that. Just please don’t call me fat again.

How to Store a Wedding Cake

Right before I got married, I learned about the best marriage tradition of all. We were to save a portion of the wedding cake, freeze it, and eat it on our first anniversary. As a huge cake fan, I was pretty psyched about this. I figured it would be a challenge to store a cake in the freezer and have it still taste good a year later, and I did not take the responsibility lightly. Moreover, The Primavera Regency did not simply give us a small sample of cake. We got the entire top—an 8-inch round. There was no way I was going to let this entire delectable cake get freezer burned or ruined in any way. So, I brought it home the morning after our wedding, and wrapped it up right before we hopped in a cab to the airport, Hawaii-bound.

Last week, I retrieved said cake from my parents’ freezer (it was taking up too much space in ours) and waited patiently for it to defrost. I didn’t really remember exactly how I wrapped it—I only remembered that there was a lot of foil and plastic wrap involved. And so, here are photos of each layer of wrapping, ending in the unveiling of the cake.

Layer 1: Plastic produce bag…for good measure, I guess?

Layer 2: Freezer paper, held together with…packing tape? I guess that’s all I had at the time.

Layer 3: Aluminum foil.

Layer 4: Plastic wrap. A lot of it. 10 sheets total. Wrapped and re-wrapped.
Uh oh, what is that brown thing? Apparently I left the flower on top. Either I thought it was fake, or I was too exhausted/excited for Hawaii to notice it.

Layer 5: THE CAKE! Once I took that gross flower off, it looked fine.
(The discoloration on the bottom half is my shadow)

Verdict: This year-old cake was just as good as it was on our wedding night. The cannoli filling was still delicious, and there was no residual, freezer-y taste.

Do you have a wedding coming up? Follow my steps—remembering to remove any live flora—and you’ll be good to go a year from now.

This is my first time ever participating in a fantasy football league. When it started, I was pumped. I was confident, although I don’t really know why. I am the only girl in the league, and Girl Power was coursing through my veins. “I’m going to join this league and kick ass and show all these guys that girls can play fantasy sports too!” I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!!!!

I am now 0-4, and I hate fantasy football. I don’t know what I was thinking. My team has been crippled by injuries, crybaby Quarterbacks (Jay Cutler, I HATE YOU!!), and bad decision-making on my part (I would be 2-2 right now if I had started and benched different players). Why didn’t anyone tell me that, instead of paying $100 to have a little fun and watch football, I would be paying $100 to have weekly bouts of uncontrolled rage and bitterness? As bad as I feel for myself, I feel worse for Michael, who has to listen to me complain and sulk every weekend. “I’m going to lose this week because my team STINKS. I hate fantasy football. Whatever, I don’t even care anymore. I give up.”

As a testament to my resilient spirit, the day after I claim to be giving up, I go back to the website to retool and try to pick up new players for my team. By Tuesday, I feel like I might have a shot at winning. Then, the weekend rolls around, and I inevitably suffer another crushing defeat. I don’t know how much longer I can keep bouncing back like this.

The worst part about being a fantasy football loser is that, instead of disproving a gender stereotype, I have reinforced it! I wanted to have a respectable showing in the hopes that the other guys in the league wouldn’t simply think, “Oh, I’m playing Rachel this week—that’s a guaranteed win.” Unfortunately, that is absolutely the case. I have failed women everywhere.

Sorry, ladies!

Defying Logic

In a couple of months, I’m going to turn 27, which means I’m closing in on 30. Grey hairs continue to sprout out of my head (and I continue to pull them out). I go to sleep early. As far as I’m concerned, I’m starting to get old. So why, then, does the phrase, “With age comes wisdom” NOT apply to me? Why do I continue to do things that defy logic?

Case in point: I woke up on the morning of September 14 and made the shocking realization that I might have missed my friend Nate’s birthday—something I have never done in the 15+ years we have been friends. The problem was, I wasn’t completely sure if I had missed it or not. Was his birthday on the 19th? Or maybe it’s on the 16th? I couldn’t remember. When I got out of bed, I went into a drawer in the office and retrieved a small spiral notebook that I’ve had for quite a while. Beneath the Simpsons cover, it was about half full of random information: directions to friends’ houses (from before GPS’s existed), phone numbers (in case I ever lost a phone), and random factoids. The name of the Japanese artist who painted The Great Wave—Katsushika Hokusai. A list of all the movies David Fincher had directed (as previously stated, this notebook goes back to much nerdier times). Most importantly, this notebook contains a list of friends’ and family members’ birthdays. Or, I should say, contained.

I opened the notebook that morning to find that all of the old pages had been torn out. All that remained were some notes from a book weeding project I had been doing at a previous job. Obviously, I didn’t think the notebook contained very relevant information anymore, and perhaps I wanted to start fresh with the second half of the book. But, much to my surprise, I had even torn out the page with all of the birthdays! WHY would I do this? Did I think that I would be able to remember all of them? Impossible. Did I tear the page out but file it away into my accordion folder? Perhaps in the “Miscellaneous” folder or the “Very Important Things” folder? Nope. Did I transcribe the list into a Word document and save it on my computer? Nuh-uh. I have no idea why I did what I did. I can’t imagine that I actually threw it out, but where the heck would I have put it?

I love to organize and re-organize, but sometimes I think I do more harm than good. Every once in a while, I’ll move an item to a location that I think is more logical, but wind up not being able to find it months later. Where should I keep this hat? Well, you wear a hat on your head, and ‘head’ rhymes with ‘bed,’ so I think I’ll keep it under the bed. Right next to the peanut butter, which goes on bread.

Time to start fresh, I guess. So, when is your birthday again?


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