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Friday Advice Column for Wacky Mothers & Others

January 12th, 2007

This week I was asked three different questions by three different readers, none of whom went to the right person for advice:

1) Should I have a baby alone (with a sperm donor)? Yes or no? I feel like I will regret it if I don’t.

2) How do I find a great guy like Hockey God?

3) Why didn’t any of you (bleep-bleep) moms tell me how hard nursing would be?

Sure, those are easy enough questions. I’ll bite. Oh, that’s not me biting — that’s a nursing baby!

A disclaimer: This service is not meant to replace regular care and maintenance of your automobile, and is not intended… oh, wait. That’s the letter my auto club sent me weekly when I owned my Dodge Dart. What I meant was: This column is not meant to take the place of medical attention from a doctor, witch doctor, or mental health professional. Please seek professional attention when needed.

First of all, I believe I do tell everyone who is even remotely interested (ie — the mailman. The tax lady. The guy making my coffee, when he glances at my breasts) how miserable nursing can be. My youngest stopped nursing three years ago, but the wear and tear remains. The long answer to Question Three is: I tell all mamas-to-be the same pat answer: “Nursing isn’t the most natural thing in the world for a lot of us. It was hell for me for the first three weeks.” Then I recommend they buy Lansinoh, get fitted at Nordstrom or some other high-end shop for some decent bras (throughout the pregnancy and after bebe arrives), and to read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. (Stupid title. Great book.) Take a soft cotton sleep bra to the hospital, NOT AN UNDERWIRE. Underwires are NOT your friend when that milk is first coming in. And when people tell you, “It shouldn’t hurt! If something hurts, something is wrong!” Well, this might be a lie. Go to the lactation clinic if you need help. Take a head of cabbage with you.

Biting? Break the bite by gently putting your pinky finger in a corner of the barracuda’s mouth. I also plugged my babies’ nose to get them to let go when they wouldn’t detach. Believe me, they will let go IF THEY CAN’T BREATHE. (This also works with biting toddlers.) Don’t yell or overreact, because then it becomes A Game.

Say, gently but firmly, “No bite.” Take them off the breast and don’t let them nurse until they stop biting. (I’m talking minutes here, not hours or days.) They’re not out to get you, truly they’re not. It just seems like it.

Milk supply low? Drink tons of water. I mean, tons. And take your calcium citrate — my doc told me to aim for 1,500-2,000 milligrams a day.

Want to give up? Try not to give up. Because even if you’re only able to nurse twice a day (morning and night) and maybe a little extra on weekends… There is nothing like the tit to comfort your kid who has just had an upset, gotten shots, or needs some loving. When they’re teething, or have the flu, sometimes they’ll take the breast and nothing else. If you have questions I didn’t answer here, e me please. And talk to other moms who have had success at nursing.

The short answer: If we’d told you, we might have scared you off. Bon appetit, babies!

Question Two: Thank you — he is a great guy. I think I’ve quoted him here before, but when I was single, one of my former editors told me: “I keep telling you — don’t date the assholes, only date the nice ones. Who hard is that?” “Hmmm,” I thought, “Tricky. It just might work.”

Also, I was older (32) when my husband and I started dating, but I’d met him several years before that and had had Mad Crush on him since the first time I saw him. He was my neighbor. I was living with someone else at the time. And I would have dumped this other guy’s ass in about two seconds had I known that Hockey Guy was interested in me. Our first date was May 9th, 1997; we were engaged July first, I think?, same year. Less than two months later.

See? It pays to keep your options open. When I met him I was attracted to him because he shared some qualities with the type of guy I’d always liked, but they were only the good ones (played music — sax, guitar, piano — and sang, loved the outdoors, liked to write, was sweet). But he had none of the bad qualities of any of my ex’s (drug/alcohol problems, moodiness, an unwillingness to settle down, yadda yadda). Nice, and not an asshole!

Also, he had no ex-wives.

No kids.

Not even a dog or cat. He was just this super-cool, handsome, funny hippie guy from Iowa City, Iowa, who worked produce. Then after we met, he decided to go back to college. Then he became a software engineer, took up hockey, and bought me a mini-van. WTF? What you see is not always what you get, but it’s all good hemp, as my husband would have said. Back in the day.

Also, I told him, “I’m not living with anyone again until the ring is on the finger,” because why not be direct?

He told me, “Guess I better start shopping for rings, then.” This was our fourth date. But it worked for us.

Be open-minded, trust your instincts, and do a “three-tiered” approach to the whole thing — Look around (at church, parties, the grocery store — heh heh); do Match.com, send a note in to your college or high school alum magazines and sites, go to reunions, go to singles’ events; and ask friends, co-workers and neighbors, to keep you in mind. I always, always, always have been a believer in a big, ol’ happy ending. I knew what I wanted. OK, getting choked up now.

Question One: This is the trickiest question I’ve ever been asked, because I could possibly be advising someone that yeah, sure 65 hours of labor is cake! Go for it, girl! This is too much responsibility for me and my uterus to deal with. Therefore, this will be my shortest answer.

Have you always known you wanted to be a parent? Do you know, deep in your heart of hearts, that this is the direction you absolutely must go? Because I always knew from Day One that I wanted kids — even if I didn’t get married. But I still have horrible days, moments and (once in awhile) weeks of sheer chaos, misery and “Dear God, what was I thinking?” So if you’re on the fence: No. If you’re a little bit nervous and shy, and “What’s this I hear about back labor? That doesn’t really happen, does it?” that’s a different story.

My Wacky Girlfriend E and I were talking about this several years ago. One of her buddies has two girls (who must be teens by now), and some little brat was yammering, “What about your dad? Where’s your dad?” on the playground, and the oldest was all, “Don’t have one.” “But you have to have one!”

She says, “You ever hear of something called a TURKEY BASTER?”

Yeah, IN YOUR FACE, smart-ass kid. I’ve never met this girl, yet I love her. Anyway, artificial insemination is a whole different ballgame now, so to speak. Adoption can work. It’s nice to have enough of a cushion to support a kid. It’s even better to have the support of your family and friends. A decent job helps. You must remember that parenthood does not mean, Uh-oh, there goes my lovelife for 18 years. (This is true for singles and marrieds.)

But the most important thing is love, and I bet you have plenty of that to share, yes?

I say, Go for it, girl. If it’s right for you, go for it.

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