Bottle Battles (#236)

Baby D was born hungry. Maybe because he’d stretched his stomach swallowing amniotic fluid. Maybe it’s that he was overdue and over nine pounds. Maybe it was just genetic, courtesy of parents who love food.

That kid could eat. I’d nurse Baby D for almost an hour in the hospital, and send him back to the nursery to get a little sleep. Within an hour, a nurse would bring him back, saying, “He’s hungry!”

Me, wailing: “But I just fed him!”

Luckily, the hospital had plenty of little formula bottles we could use to as supplements. Andy took a whole bunch with us when we were discharged.

They lasted a day.

On the advice of Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister, I would nurse Baby D and then pump while Andy gave him a bottle, in order to a) make sure I was empty, and b) increase my milk supply.

Once Baby D figured out he could get more milk faster from a bottle, he refused to nurse, wailing until we gave in and gave him a bottle. Between raw nipples, my baby’s rejection, and feeling like an unwanted cow, I was a wreck.

“Maybe I should just give up breast feeding,” I sobbed to Dr. Sister on the phone.

Despite not being able to produce enough milk for her own ginormous daughter, Dr. Sis had strong opinions of breast feeding. And she’s definitely not a coddler. She hissed, “If you don’t breast feed, I will fucking kill you.”

“Okay,” I sniffled. The next 24 hours were miserable. Baby D kept demanding the bottle. I kept pumping and crying.

Then Baby D slept for 6 hours. When he woke up, still convinced he was starving, his Mommy Cow’s milk reservoir had built up enough that both supply and speed of discharge were acceptable. Baby D still insisted on a supplemental bottle after some feedings, but within a week of being born, he was sleeping through at least one nighttime feeding. Since I was not, I would get up and pump some supplemental milk in order to cut down on formula.

I thought we were now in a good place.

My pediatrician thought differently. Most babies lose weight after they are born. It’s expected. It takes a while for the mother’s milk to come in, and it takes a while for babies to get the hang of nursing.

Our pediatrician was older, a tiny little Persian dude with a wealth of experience. The only time I ever saw him shocked was when he weighed and measured my child a week after delivery.

“Your baby has gained 8 ounces! You are overfeeding him!” Dr. Y declared.

“But—but he’s also gained an inch in size!” I argued.

Dr. Y dismissed this with a wave of his hand, saying, “The initial measurements are always a little off. Babies curl up and can be hard to measure. Are you giving him a bottle?”

“After I nurse him, yes. But only when he cries! And he ONLY cries when he is hungry.”

“How much in in his bottle?”

“I don’t know. I feed him until he stops eating.” At this point, I was ready to cry myself, convinced of my maternal failures.

“At this age, he should only be eating one ounce!” Dr. Y insisted.

I mumbled some vague sort of agreement, hovering between tears and indignation. I knew I was right, but I needed more data points to prove it. When we got home, I sent Andy off to call his mother and ask about her nursing experience. Since I didn’t have a mom to call and I wasn’t up to being bitched out by a doctor again, I called Big Brother’s Wife instead of Dr. Sis.

Big Brother’s Wife is very organized. Not surprisingly, she kept excellent records of her two oldest children. She reported that Second Niece and Nephew had, like Baby D, gained inches and ounces during their first weeks.

Andy’s mother reported that Andy had been so hangry and awful to breastfeed that she’d had to switch to a bottle.

Instead of nursing Baby D that evening, I pumped and measured my milk production: not quite 2 ounces. Andy fed Baby D a bottle and reported that our child sucked down over 4 ounces before falling asleep.

“There’s no way our kid should be limited to just one ounce,” I huffed to Andy. “Clearly our tiny little Persian pediatrician has no experience with the giant Germanic-Chinese baby that’s born growth spurting!”

Baby D, already on the the high end of the baby height and weight charts, literally went off the charts for the next six months.

I was fully prepared to smack down Dr. Y if he came at me again over Baby D’s bottle. So of course he never did.

Maybe because his own measurements showed Baby D gaining height along with weight.

Maybe he finally realized Baby D’s parents were looming over him by a foot and he took genetics into account.

Or maybe it was because recognized the battle-ready glint in my eye.

Overfeeding, my ass.

Salute to Stupidity (#235)

Growing up in Washington, D.C. means no other Independence Day celebration will live up to your childhood memories. For a relentlessly political, cynical city, they throw a heck of a party.

Photo by Ron Engle

First, there’s the National Independence Day Parade. This ain’t no small, hometown parade where the local horses and fire trucks are the stars of the show. This is A Historical Spectacle. There are hundreds of Uncle Sams (some  in balloon form or on stilts). Bewigged Founding Fathers abound, as do Paul Revere impersonators. Military bands–past and present–are pressed into service, sweating in wool uniforms and 100 degree heat. My sisters and I once counted seventy-five Betsy Rosses. (We would’ve liked some Deborah Sampsons better, but we cheered what female historical figures we could get.)

From National Archives News

After the parade, tens of thousands of people descend on the National Mall. Some visit the National Archives, home of the Declaration of Independence, which has its own concert and historical impersonators.

When my dad worked on Capitol Hill (and had a parking space), we’d picnic on the hill below the Capitol building. Sometimes we’d watch the PBS “Capitol Fourth” concert (my younger sister was on TV once, even). Sometimes we walked to the Washington Monument for the best view of the fireworks, whining about the bugs and heat the whole way. When it was time for the big finale, Dad would race off to get the car. He’d have it waiting at the closest curb. We’d all pile in, trying to beat the traffic from the mass exodus.

From the IG of my direct opposite, a SoCal guy who moved to D.C.

After Dad lost his job and primo parking space, we picnicked at the Jefferson Memorial (less crowds, worse view of fireworks) or the Lincoln Memorial (more crowds, better fireworks view).

Every area that didn’t involve the fireworks display or wasn’t being restored was open to the public. Hippies with sparklers sang “Happy Birthday America.” Religious fanatics screamed that we were going to hell. Sunburned Midwesterners bought up flags and bug repellant. There were protestors of all kinds, but the celebration was open to all.

This is the first year I’m glad I’m not back home. Not because of the bugs, or the 100 degree heat, or 100% humidity. It’s not even because of crowds of willfully ignorant, drunk, white, flag-waving Americans confusing nationalism with patriotism.

It’s because Trump fucking ruins everything.

This year, Trump’s taking over the Lincoln Memorial and holding a political rally called “Salute to America.” You need a ticket to enter, and you won’t get one unless you’re a Republican friend, family, or political donor. If you support Trump, you can sit in the bleachers he’s erecting and have a perfect view of the fireworks display, which he moved to give himself the best seat in the house.

Trump insists on expensive flyovers by the Blue Angeles and bombers all the way from the midwest.

Trump’s diverting money desperately needed by our underfunded National Parks to pay for all this and tanks (technically “armored personnel carriers”).  Never mind that the National Park Service and everyone else has warned Trump that tanks may crack roads and do other damage.

The Orange Pustule doesn’t care. He has to have military trappings to prove his greatness. Just like Hitler.

Maybe you think the Hitler comparison is over the top. It’s not, but fine. Here’s a more obvious comparison.

There was one other President who did his best to turn the Independence Day celebration at the Lincoln Memorial into a conservative, pro-President, pro-military, nationalistic event. The “Honor America Day” was arranged by white, conservative, Christian men (Mormon J.W. Marriott and Evangelist Billy Graham). It began with Graham praying. Next up were acts by Hollywood C-listers (because the A & B list declined). Marriott and Graham called these acts a “Salute to America” (which should also sound familiar, as, yes, Trump’s team is actually using the EXACT SAME NAME because they have no original thoughts). The first “Salute to America” even had Jeannie C. Riley bashing anti-war protestors by singing:

If you don’t love it, leave it
Let this song that I’m singin’ be a warnin’
When you’re runnin’ down our country, hoss
You’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me.

In case you haven’t figured out which President ordered the first odious “Salute to America,” it was Nixon.* Seriously. I can’t make this shit up. Trump literally stole his celebration idea from disgraced President Nixon, who eventually resigned rather than be impeached.

May Trump’s era end in the same ignominious fashion.

*Unlike Trump, however, Nixon was smart enough not to attend his own “Salute to America.” He stayed home in San Clemente, far away from the heat, the bugs, the protestors, and the tear gas.