Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I've Decided to Formula Feed. Guess What the First Comment Was?

"You sound like a very selfish and detached mother.  Poor kid."

I can see where Anon is coming from.  When mothers post about their feeding journeys, they tend to be emotional.  Moms want to do what's best for their kids and routinely feel inadequate.  Stories about formula feeding usually start with trying to breastfeed, then there's a breakdown, then there's relief at a viable option and acceptance.  Often there's crying.  My post was not like that.  It was a cost-benefit analysis, and I called it that.  I made no mention of how excited I am to have a baby.  I didn't try to convey how badly I want to hold her in my arms right now.  I didn't write about how I was not a cuddly baby, but I really hope my daughter is because I love cuddles.  There's no difference in love between breast, combo, or formula feeding, so I left it out of my analysis.

(The analysis, if you didn't read the post, was for my family situation only, not to to tell anyone they shouldn't breastfeed.  Breastfeeding is also super cool and everyone deserves support and resources for their decisions.)

I came off as cold, I guess.  Because if I'm not crying over not breastfeeding, I must be a bad mom.  If I didn't start my analysis by gushing over how much I love my baby, then my analysis must be coming from a place of indifference toward her.  Though, "selfish" and "detached" seem like funny words to describe a woman who spent countless hours calculating where my energy will best suit my family.

Another comment wanted me to know that breastfeeding is not just about feeding.  It's about comfort and it's a beautiful biological function.  She expressed amazement at the capabilities of our bodies and thought that ignoring this aspect was "sad."  And I think that's just fine of her.  She's a wonderful mother and breastfeeding was something she loved even though it was really hard for her.  I will not discount that because that's wonderful.  But why does not breastfeeding equal not comforting my baby?  My baby can still be skin to skin with me.  I freaking love cuddling.  I will hold her when she's upset.  I will do everything to care for her needs because I love her.  But because I didn't say this in a cost-benefit analysis, it's assumed that I don't want to comfort my baby with my body?  My worth as a mother and my ability to comfort my baby have nothing to do with my status as a mammal.  To me, it's not sad.  Not one bit.

I cannot tell you the happiness I felt when I made the decision to not breastfeed.  It's not unique to me, though it does seem weird to some.  I love imagining being in the hospital and just being able to focus on her.  And imagining her cuddling with and being fed by her beautiful dad.  I imagine holding her to my chest and letting her hear my heartbeat and feel my warmth, and her dad doing the same.  I love that.  I'm gonna cry, now, are you happy?  Can my choices count now that I'm crying???

I want people to know that it's okay for me to be practical.  Babies need food, sleep, cuddles, play, hygiene, and safety.  Thanks to science and parents everywhere, we know the nuts and bolts of how to provide those adequately.  When we decided to try and become pregnant, that was a decision from love.  That was the same decision to feed and care for a baby.  After that decision, figuring out the ins and outs of providing for a baby became a practical issue for me.  I want to do it because of love.  I figure out how to do it by crunching numbers.  Sure, I'm going to have to rely on some amount of instinct, and every baby is different.  But if I can find some meta-analyses to read first, I'll do that.

And so I'll be formula feeding.  If my milk comes in, I'm gonna slap on some ice packs, pop some ibuprofen, and cuddle my gorgeous baby.  I'm going to do my best to plan ahead and delegate tasks so I can sleep enough and Hubs can study for finals.  I know that I will sacrifice for this child.  I already have and I love it.  But I think a friend put it best when she said, "Motherhood is taking care of your child, but that's only possible when you take care of yourself."

Because bodily autonomy and motherhood are not mutually exclusive.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Reasons Behind My Boob Choices.

I'm having a baby in a few months.  Infants need fed and they can eat two things: breast milk and formula.  The following is a personal cost-benefit analysis.

Situation Facts
When baby is three to four months old, I'll be taking classes again and Hubs will be primary care-giver until she's at least one year old.
In the first few weeks of life, infants need fed every few hours.  I cannot be awake every few hours for weeks and maintain my mental health.
We can afford bottles and formula (but, you know, that doesn't mean I want to spend the money).
There is not enough difference between breast milk and formula for me to care (see here).

First Plan
My original plan was created to maintain my own mental health and save the maximum amount of money.  It involved using formula so I can delegate feedings, still giving breastfeeding a go, but not pumping.  Pumping would benefit the breastfeeding, but I only care about breastfeeding if it will save money.  I work from home and any time spent pumping I can earn more than enough money for the same amount of formula.  Which means I can earn enough for formula and have a little extra time for cuddling baby instead of pumping.

I discovered that this plan is probably not practical.  By not being committed to breastfeeding, I decrease its chance of success.  It's not imperative to me that I breastfeed, so any difficulty will probably outweigh monetary benefits and I'll stop.  Planning to skip feedings and not pump means I'll likely have supply issues.  It will also increase my risk for a mastitis infection (which you can still breastfeed through, but I would rather just not increase the risk).

I plan for things.  I plan for any possible situation.  I've read a ton about what problems can arise during breastfeeding and how to make it more successful.  So part of my original plan involves some start up costs for breastfeeding.  Nipple shields, nipple cream, breast pads, nursing bras.  If I breastfeed, I will have everything on hand for troubleshooting.  If I'm likely to stop breastfeeding early on via the original plan, then these start up costs are lost.  The only gain is that I would learn what would happen if I tried to breastfeed.

So my original plan was scrapped.  I now have two options I'm willing to consider.
1. Commit to breastfeeding and only add formula for supply issues.
2. Commit to formula, don't attempt to breastfeed.

Pros for breastfeeding
Possibility of saving money (see here).
Easy access to feeding when baby's with me.
Possibility for it being easy or me getting the hang of it.
Teeny tiny immunity benefits.
Possibly forego costs on bottles, etc.

Cons for breastfeeding
Possibility of not saving money.
I don't like things touching my nipples/soreness/all physical discomfort.
I'm gonna worry all the time about how much baby's getting/if I'm doing it right.
It's not predictable.
Judgment in public (f*** those people, but still).
Pumping (especially when I'm in school again).
Likely mental health drain.
Need vitamin D supplements.
Need iron supplements after six months.

Pros for formula
Predictability in cost and supply.
Zero things have to touch my nipples.
I know how much baby's getting.
Any feeding can be easily delegated/Hubs will get more experience before becoming primary.
Forego all up front costs for breastfeeding (supplies, the learning curve, etc.).
Includes vitamin D and iron.

Cons for formula
Higher monetary cost.
Bottles and maintenance of the beautiful invention.
Judgment in public and possibly in the hospital (again with the f***ing of those people).
Will likely become engorged and sore for a short time before I dry up.
I'll never know what breastfeeding would have been like.

All righty
So it's not just the number of items that matters, but how much each item weighs to me.  Pumping might not be a con to some people, but it is to me.  "Zero things have to touch my nipples" might not weigh very much to a lot of people, but it weighs a lot to me.  Those tiny immunity benefits mean a lot more to some people.  Some people would add things like "natural" and "skin-to-skin contact."

I will not be attempting breastfeeding.  For me, even the pros of breastfeeding come with too much uncertainty for them to weigh much.

I feel very comfortable with this decision.  After I push a baby out of my vagina, I don't have to suddenly try to learn a new skill on top of all the other new mom things.  I don't have to worry about my nipples getting cracked or sore or bloody.  I don't have to worry about all the uncertainty.  I'll be able to give 100% of that energy to my baby and myself.  Plus, I'm sure there will be plenty of other things for me to worry about.

If while you were reading this you thought, "Allie, I could help you with those problems you might have while breastfeeding," or "Allie, I think your opinion about this particular thing is wrong," rest assured that I don't care.  I'm grateful for your willingness to support me and help me troubleshoot, but I've simply made a different choice.  Please now support my formula feeding.

I didn't need to write this.  I don't owe anyone an explanation.  In fact, if this gets around, I'll be judged by a lot of people (like this misinformed ray of sunshine).  I want people to know that formula feeding is not just for people who can't breastfeed.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

In ten years, he won't be the man I fell in love with.

In 19 days, my marriage will begin.  I've got some expectations.

#1 I don't think the purpose of my marriage is to make me happy.

People are not bundles of goods and services to be measured with cost/benefit analyses.  If I was getting married because he makes me happy then I would divorce him when he stops making me happy. (Spoiler alert: People don't make me happy).  I think marriage commitment makes us better people if we let it, and I want to take that seriously.

What if the purpose of marriage is strengthen humanity?  To realize that I can be part of something bigger and more important than myself, my fleeting feelings, and my desires?

#2 I don't think my marriage is going to be easy.

Entering into a commitment that forces you to become better than you are doesn't sound easy, but it sounds like something I want.  I'm not signing up for a cohabiter until I find someone better.  Until he gets fat.  Until we can't pay the bills.  Until our sex life isn't exciting.  Until a million other things.  I'm signing up, in the temple of my Father, to be his wife and companion for time and all eternity.

I saw one of those dumb inspirational quotes on the internet that said something like, "If you truly love someone, it's easy to stay faithful."  This makes no sense to me.  If this is true, then does that mean the moment it isn't easy, I have to start questioning whether I truly love him?  I do truly love him, so in those moments when it isn't easy, I'm going to stay anyway.  None of those moments have happened to me yet, and I don't know what's going to happen.  But I know what I'm going to choose because I'm choosing it right now.

#3 Years from now, I don't think he'll be the same man I fell in love with.

There's this idea out there of basically a consumer marriage.  Every five to seven years, the marriage is evaluated and the partners decide if they want to renew the marriage contract or discontinue it with little to no consequences.  Sometimes I see people explain their divorces in very nonchalant terms. "We just grew apart."  "It's nobody's fault."  "We want different things now."  If I divorce my husband, there will be kicking and screaming and crying on my part because I'm going into this all in.  I can't act so nonchalantly about things I give my whole self to.

#4 Keeping our marriage healthy is a major priority.

We plan and set goals together.  We understand numbers 1, 2, and 3 the best that we can right now. We know that there are going to be things we didn't expect about marriage.  And we're going to keep going and learning.


In case any of you were worried that I'm too focused on the possible bad things in the future.  Anyone who knows us knows that we're going to have exorbitant amounts of fun during this whole commitment thing.

Ethan is the most beautiful person I know.  I can share my whole self with him and I know he'll laugh with me and help me feel comfortable in my own skin.  We talk for hours.  We laugh at stupid jokes. We realize that comfortably cuddling is difficult sometimes and we just give up poke each other. Sometimes, I'm overwhelmed with how much I love him and I just have to jump up and down and squeal and OHMAHGOODNESS WE'RE GETTING MARRIED IN 19 DAYS!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


We hear it all the time.  "Everyone is different."  "Just be yourself."  When you're trying to sell makeup and clothes, you don't want to try to go into detail about how these statements affect the way you relate to the people around you.

"Wear Swanky-Swank product, and when you see someone else wearing Other Brand you can start talking about how your sister wore that brand one time and it made her face break out in hives and she went crazy, got fat, and DIED."

The flip side is, of course, you wear Other Brand and someone tells you about how their sister broke out in hives, went crazy, gained weight, and died.  You suddenly get very defensive because you've used Other Brand for years and you love it!  HAVE YOU EVER READ A COMMENT THREAD.

We do that.  We project.  We have valuable life experiences that help us grow and mature, but then we turn around and extrapolate them to the entire human population.  All the while telling ourselves that every person is special and different (specifically, that I am special and different).

Apart from our own valuable life experiences, we'll hear a story.  And then we'll hear that same story somewhere else.  Pretty soon you have a stereotype, a common story that many people share.  We heard several of them from people we know and trust and identify with, so it solidifies in our minds.

Then we hear a different story.  A story with a different ending, with a different middle, with a different beginning.  We feel that our selves, our friends, our loved ones, our intellects have been attacked.  We run to defend what we KNOW is right.  After all, I'm special and different, I'm the one who's going to explain my side because my special and different mind has all the right answers.  HAVE YOU EVER READ A COMMENT THREAD.

I think the problem here is that we don't see stories as stories.  We don't want stories, we want answers.  We want to know what to do.  We want to tell people what to do.  But all the while saying, "Everyone is different.  Be yourself.  Express yourself."

But express yourself in the way that I understand you need to express yourself.

Here's a TED Talk.  (Everybody loves a good TED Talk, right?)
The Danger of a Single Story

Some of you already understand why I'm writing this.  My fiancĂ© and I recently shared our story about our relationship and Ethan's same-sex attraction.

Here's that for you if you like:
Voices of Hope: Ethan and Allison

Comment threads happened.  Albeit, more respectful than typical internet threads, people have heated opinions.

When I started writing this post, I was writing to address some of the concerns that people who think we're making a mistake had.  Because my experiences and the stories I've heard lead to a different end than the experiences and stories others have.  I quickly realized that explaining my side of things isn't the only problem.  Everyone knows that no matter how much you explain yourself, people are not likely to change their opinion.  But there's this pent-up energy to defend what you know is right for you.

Of course I want people to change their minds and agree with me.  But I've realized that what I want and can actually have is for people to simply accept that my story is mine.  My first step in that has been accepting that their stories are valid.  That my story isn't the one and only reality.

Am I still going to write about my side of things?  Absolutely, that's part of my story and there are people with sincere questions that I'd love to answer.

But why do that when my story isn't the one and only reality?  Well, it's a part of reality.  And while everyone is different and special, people have many things in common also.  Just like there isn't one single story of a place or type of person, all the stories aren't unique, either.  There are intersections and loops and turns and crashes and confusing Yahoo! Maps directions.  People still need to hear the things that are similar.  People need to know that they aren't alone.

We didn't do Voices of Hope to tell all gay men to marry women—that's absurd.  We did Voices of Hope because we have made a decision and want to share our story.  We did it to connect with other people who want something similar.  Someone who listens to our story, sees one way it intersects with their story and knows that they aren't alone.  So we can share ideas and build on each other and figure out what the heck it is we want out of this life.

I am sorry about the not-so-good stories that have been shared with us.  Those are real, painful experiences that are completely valid.  But I see the similarities, and I see the differences.  Please don't try to shove it down my throat as the one reality for mixed-orientation marriages.  It's a part of the reality of mixed-orientation marriages, but it's not the whole reality.

My story will keep going and not just about this one topic.  I will keep exploring my relationship with a man who's into dudes.  I'll keep trying (and probably failing) at cooking.  I'll keep laughing and tripping and falling and hurting myself.  And I'll keep sharing.

I'm in Love. Part 2 (Actually this is a weird transition post)

Sometimes, people think of being in a relationship like this:

And they think that if the relationship is "meant to be" then you won't have problems.  If you have problems, it's taken as a sign that it just wasn't "meant to be".

I think that's utter nonsense.

Relationships are more like this:


This is what I had done for this post a couple of months ago.  This is also where I think this blog might become something different.  I'm still the derpy girl who can't bake and likes to draw and injures herself on a regular basis, freaking out and laughing all along the way, but I'm getting involved in things that I feel are very important.  I've tried to work on this post several times and it's just not happening, so I'm going to do something else with it.  It's my blog, I'm going to do whatever I want with it.  OKAY LET'S GOOOOO!!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I'm in Love. Part 1.

I never believed I'd end up alone.  I mean, dating is hard and totally sucks, but I figured I'd get married eventually.  Even so, I'm aware that I'm a weird person.

I always thought I'd have to give up an amount of my weirdness when I found someone I wanted to be with forever.  And I was okay with that!  After all, who could possibly keep up with me?  Who could enter the deep, incoherent recesses of my messed-up brain and come out to say something like, "Yeah, the way you personify inanimate objects and then laugh uncontrollably at them for no reason makes me think I want you to be the mother of my children."

If such a person did exist, I'd probably question their ability to function as a member of society. I figured I best keep my weirdness partially under wraps so as to appear attractive to those responsible men I deemed should fall in love with me.

Surprisingly, my strategy of hiding a part of myself for the purpose of establishing a connection with another human being failed.

These repeated failures sent me on a self-esteem adventure! (I got depressed.)

The last few posts on this blog are from this era, and I don't want to get into it, so, yeah.

The important part is that I found what I needed to do and emerged from the cocoon of blankets I wrapped myself in during Netflix-and-ice-cream binges ready to be happy and single for as long as necessary.

My mind was in a significantly healthier state, but I still didn't think I'd find a guy as weird as me.  I wasn't sure I wanted a guy as weird as ME.

"Challenge accepted," said the universe.

This is Ethan.  (He actually has a beard, and it's super hot, but I don't put forth that much effort in these drawings.)

Weirdness isn't his only quality.  After my terrible co-dependent relationship ended, I realized what I needed in a partner to have an actual healthy relationship.  And Ethan is all of that for me.  I didn't know how perfectly awesome he was when we first met.  It wasn't like this happened:


But not instantly!  Really!  Our first date was meh.  I was particularly NOT excited when he asked me out.

In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green writes that Hazel Grace fell in love the way you fall asleep, slowly, and then all at once.

I don't fall in love like that.  I fall in love the way you get a cold.

And then you're in denial about it.  Haha, as if you have a choice.

Then you panic because you feel it coming on.  You know you're not sick yet, but you also know there's nothing you can do about it.

I can't pinpoint the exact moment I realized I loved him.  There was just a period of time where I knew I was on my way there.  I knew it was happening, I just didn't know how fast I was headed toward it.