On getting back what you give

Listen, I knew there was going to be poop involved when I had a baby. Sure enough, I’ve been pooped on directly a couple times since Baby E was born, and I haven’t bothered keeping track of how many times I actually got poop on my person, but I know that number is “a lot.” I have also been peed on a few times since this little bundle of joy came along, which is surprising, since her anatomy suggests it should be quite a difficult task.

I am not upset by these bodily functions. They are natural and normal, and they indicate a healthy baby who is doing what she is supposed to do. You go, Baby E!

I did, however, overlook another bodily function that has proven to be more problematic to my sense of dignity.  It turns out I am pretty offended by being thrown up on with my own breast milk.

Here’s the thing; breastfeeding is hard. Most women end up in lots of pain and with nipples that chafe, crack, and bleed (I somehow managed to avoid this). It is also surprisingly common for breastfeeding women to get disgusting infections and give them to their babies, who in turn give it right back as soon as the women are on the healing track (thank goodness, I also avoided this).  Even if you (like me) avoid all the really nasty stuff, you can still expect to plant your rear end on an extremely comfortable surface for most of your waking hours.

Admittedly, that on its own sounds incredible.

But pair it with a tiny creature routinely sucking the life out of you in a pattern that is anything but routine, your hands being tied up by holding the tiny creature in place (since she is still unable to do even the simplest of tasks by herself), and being desperately thirsty no matter how many glasses of water your husband dutifully delivers to you (thanks, Mr. B), and things quickly become more challenging.

If you read most resources, they will tell you that exclusively breastfeeding women need about 500 calories in food per day over their usual intake. Every website I found just cited every other website, and that number seemed kind of high to me (it would take me nearly an hour of doing vigorous jumping jacks to burn this much energy), so I decided to try to find an actual study. I did, and it turns out that number is a little off. A 1997 study concluded that exclusively breastfeeding women actually need 670 calories per day – the 500 calories touted everywhere is to allow for gradual weight loss.

Wow. Obviously, producing breast milk (or boob juice, as it has so eloquently become known in our house) takes a lot of effort.

And that’s why, when I’ve just spent a full hour with my baby latched onto my chest, and I soothingly rub her back in an effort to gently coerce lingering gas bubbles out of her torso, and my efforts are instead rewarded with a volume of vomit equivalent to several minutes’ worth of vigorous jumping jacks, I’m a little put out.

“I worked hard for that meal, and that’s how you treat it?” is what one might indignantly ask.

But it’s okay. She’s just a baby.

I’m sure once she’s old enough to realize that I’ve put effort into making her dinner, she’ll gobble down every bite with enthusiasm and gratitude.


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