The Lactation Hotline Gone Wrong

baby-boy-breastfeeding Image via Shutterstock

It was just a few days after bringing Penelope home from the hospital when I found myself locked in the bathroom at 1:30 in the morning, trying not to wake my husband. I was crying out from the shooting pain while desperately dialing the number on the sheet of paper I was clutching. I knew breastfeeding would be tricky, but felt reassured when the nurse at the hospital told me there was a 24-hour “lactation hotline” for me to use as a resource. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, and I was at my limit.

Earlier that evening, I screamed so loud while feeding her that my husband got nervous. I considered begging him to run out and get formula, so I could give her something else during the middle-of-the-night feeding other than my poor, beat-up boobs. Instead, I powered through and figured I’d deal with the next feeding later on. Which led me to my 1:30 AM desperate dial.

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Finally, someone picked up.

Strike one: It was a man who answered the phone. A MAN. I considered hanging up, but one glance down at my bleeding, sore nipples and I figured I’d take a shot. I took a deep breath, cleared my throat, and asked to speak with a lactation consultant.

To my dismay, the man flatly explained that the lines were “backed up” and I would surely receive a call back from the lactation consultant in about four hours. FOUR HOURS.

I told him he didn’t understand, that I needed to speak with someone right away, but he assured me that he did in fact understand and would have someone get back to me just as soon as they could. I would have to feed Penelope again before that point, and would just have to suffer through it.

To the men out there, it may be tough to comprehend the predicament I was in. Let me explain it in a way that may help you put yourself in our shoes. Here goes:

Imagine you awaken in the middle of the night. You look down, and notice that your balls are on fire.

Before you have enough time to panic, you hear what appears to sound like a screaming piranha. You realize, to your horror, that the only way to get the piranha to stop screaming is to latch it on to your flaming balls. You are in quite the pickle.

You remember there is a phone number for you to call where you can speak to the only person who could help you put the fire out in your balls and calm the piranha, so, trembling in pain, you dial it. A woman answers.

WOMAN: “Hello, Flaming Balls Hotline! How may I help you?”


WOMAN: “I’m sorry to hear that, sir. But our call log is backed up at the moment. I do, however, understand your frustration.”

YOU: “Lady, are you serious?! You don’t even have balls!”

WOMAN: “Yes sir, that’s correct, I do not have balls. But I can assure you that someone with balls will get back to you within the next four hours to help you put that fire out. You just hang tight.”

YOU: “FOUR HOURS!? What do I do in the meantime about the piranha?!”

WOMAN: “Well sir, the piranha needs to eat. Why don’t you go ahead and attach it to your flaming balls, or it will starve. Your call is important to us and will be answered in the order in which it has been received.”

Gents, does this paint a better picture? It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

It was in that moment, after ending the call, that I wanted to light that piece of paper I was desperately clutching just minutes before on fire. I wished that, instead of that number, I had a single number to reach every other woman up at this ungodly hour fighting through this same battle.

I just knew if they too had heard there was a wait time of four hours that our collective energy and fury would bring us all together, a herd of sleep-deprived women to descend upon the office of the lactation hotline. We would bust down that door, nips blazin’, with a crazed look in our eyes and say, “Are you sure you don’t have an earlier opening?!”

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But then I also realized, that maybe they really were that backed up. Maybe they were doing all they could to help other women who, just like myself, were awake, alone, and crying on their bathroom floor right along with their babies. Helping them through this middle-of-the-night feeding that would make or break their commitment to breast feed. We couldn’t bind together like a herd of angry villagers, but knowing they were awake and going through the same thing made me feel just a little less alone.

And it wasn’t this guy’s fault that he accepted the unfortunate position of manning (no pun intended) the lactation hotline.

I do, however, have one request for the lactation hotline managers of the world: I’m all for equality in the workplace, but please, if that ever happens again, have a woman screening calls and delivering wait times. There are just some things that only we know how to say to one another.

And, I promise, I’ll never apply for a job at the “Flaming Balls Hotline.”


Related post: Why Men Can’t Have Babies

I’m Ready To Stop Breastfeeding

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My darling little boy, consider this an intervention of sorts.

I realize you have a problem. And perhaps I am an enabler. See, I would like to no longer breast feed, pump, produce milk, or otherwise engage in being the source of food for you, my darling little precious parasite. We have gotten to the point where you are sucking the life out of me. I mean that in a good way, and am proud and thankful I’m able to feed you and nourish you through breast milk. I’m just over it now. So let’s discuss.

You, at the ripe old age of six months, are what some would call a “boob snob.” You have only a taste for pure, fresh-off-the-farm breast milk. And this jersey cow has about had enough, and is ready to hang up her udders. I know you drink from a bottle too, when you have to. But we both know what your preference is. Direct from the source, especially at night.

You use your charm well, to get what you want. Yes. You are the cutest little boy I’ve ever seen in my life. And that renders me a sucker (or maybe a suckee, as you are the literal “sucker.”)

Breastfeeding is no easy task. And pumping, because I work, is super delightful. I’ve even coined the lactation room at work, “The Dairy.”

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Right now, you’ve got it made in the shade, because these boobs will make 14oz. a pump (all a product of your doing, I’m sure.) And you nurse whenever you damn well please, when I’m at home, because you capitalize on the fact that I am tired and rendered lazy after a long day of work, as soon as I walk through the door. It’s just too easy to unsnap my janky nursing bra that has seen way better days, and latch you on.

The boob is the great silencer. But for goodness sake, man, it’s time to get with the formula program. Not to mention, you heartily welcome any and all baby food I stuff into your sweet little milk-hole. Oatmeal, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, apples, bananas. Do you really need to nurse through the night? At the very least, can we cut that out?

You really know how to work this very sweet little mother-son attachment to me. You always want to be by my side. Even now, as I write this blog entry, we are minutes removed from your 10pm snack, and you requested to “assist me” in my writing. Due to your snuggly factor, I happily oblige. After all, you are the cutest little boy in the world.

It’s been decided then; You win. I won’t wean. Yet. I’m glad we had this little talk.

Related post: The Joys of Weaning

The 5 Most Awkward Moments as a Nursing Mother



1. Your boobs are center stage… and not in a good way. The first days and weeks after your baby is born,  you will find that the only thing you talk about more than poop is your breasts— and not in a sexy way. Cracked nipples, clogged ducts, engorgement and leakiness will become main topics of discussion. And while your partner may enjoy your new DDD bust size, your boobs will have never felt less sexy. In fact, between the midwife, the lactation consultant and your baby… everyone BUT your husband will be fondling you.

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2. Your milk lets down at the most unfortunate times. In the early days of engorged, milk-filled boobs, I couldn’t even predict when my milk would let down and subsequently soak through my breast pads, bra and shirt. The most awkward times that come to mind are: in the middle of a graduate school class, during a job interview and while knocking boots with my husband.

3. You will end up having to nurse in front of someone you never thought would see your breasts. Even if you are totally comfortable nursing in public without a cover, there are those unexpected moments when you are caught boob-out and mortified. I was working on the weekend with my newborn at my empty office and my boss walked in during a nursing session. My daughter turned to look and milk sprayed all down my side. Other awkward instances for me have included male family members (brother, dad, grandpa) and skeevy strangers.

4. Your baby thinks your nipples are a toy. There will come a day when you baby will notice your nipples. They have always been aware of them, but their instincts kicked in and they just latched on and didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what the vehicle for milk distribution actually was. When this day comes, your baby will be in the middle of nursing and pull away, furrow his brow and just stare. Then ever-so-slowly he will bring his hand up and (here’s the real awkward moment) he will tweak, pinch or flick your nipple, and then, just to add insult to injury, he’ll giggle. Because obviously you’ve realized by now that your nipples are hilarious, right?

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5. Your baby becomes verbal and knows how to gain access. Eventually your baby will learn to say, and in my case sign, when he wants a drink. He will start demanding “milk” by yelling, signing with his hand (regretfully the sign for milk looks like you’re milking a cow udder) and burrowing his face in your cleavage. Beware of low-cut shirts, because you can count on your baby flashing the cashier at the supermarket when looking for a snack. Also, be sure to choose the word you use for nursing wisely, I’d much rather hear “milk” screamed in public than “boobies!”

15 Things That Suck About Breastfeeding

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I had a pretty hard time establishing breastfeeding. I feel like this gives me a pretty good reason to complain about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we’re still breastfeeding, but it hasn’t been easy. And yes, I’m sure there are probably 100 reasons why breastfeeding is so great and beneficial for the baby, but what people don’t tell you are the things that just plain suck about breastfeeding.

I was one of those naive first time moms that thought it was going to be simple. I mean, you just pop them on the boob and you’re good to go right? Wrong. It’s hard. If you feel like you’re the only one not enjoying it, here’s what I found to be the worst parts about it…

1. Tennis ball in a tube sock boobs. Pancake boobs. Call ‘em what you will, we’ve all got ‘em. And they are here to stay.

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2. Still. Getting up. In the Middle. Of the night.

3. Biting. I didn’t know it was possible to scream that loud when I was accidentally bitten. OUCH.

4. Mastitis or Blocked Ducts. You will consider amputating your boob. Don’t do it.

5. Trying to find a private place. Is your baby not the easiest to latch on without flashing the world? How about preferring not to have a blanket over his head? If you like to get some privacy like me, then you know it’s almost impossible to find a private place in a public area. You usually end up on a couch in the stinky bathroom. Ew.

6. Leaking boobs. You’ve taken the wet t-shirt contest to a whole new level.

7. Feeling like a cow. Did you ever think your nipples could stretch that far into a pump before?

8. Engorged boobs. Cabbage leaves are your new best friend.

9. The lies that you won’t get your period. You probably will.

10. The lies that the baby weight will just ‘melt off’It probably won’t.

11. Sore nipples.

12. Feeling like you can’t dress stylish any more. Because you are more concerned about access to your boobs than how you look.

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13. Porn star boobs. This may be a benefit to some, but to most it’s a can’t-fit-in-my-shirt or bra-doesn’t-come-in-that-size inconvenience.

14. Being the only food supply. It would be nice if Daddy could take over a feed too, you know? How about the one in the middle of the night?

15. Still not being able to drink after 9 months. You thought after 9 alcohol-free months you could finally enjoy a night out with your favorite wine bottle? Think again. Sure a glass here and there, but you’re really not wine-country-free yet.

Related post: 10 (Mildly Shallow) Reasons To Breastfeed

10 (Mildly Shallow) Reasons To Breastfeed


Reasons To Breastfeed

I breastfeed my kids. I’m passionate about it. I’m righteous about it. But I’m not entirely honest about it.

I advertise that I do it for the heartfelt and health-related reasons we’ve all heard from other moms and pediatricians a bazillion times. But come on. If there weren’t also some hardcore mama-centric reasons to let my kid nibble on my nips for a year, I’d never be able to endure the insane commitment. These are the reasons that see me through the worst breastfeeding days and get me to hang in there when I want to bail. They’re pretty damn shallow, but whatever. They get the job done. Need some reasons to breastfeed, too?

1. Milk boobs are awesome. Have you seen milk boobs? The new-mom, my-milk-just-came-in(!!) boobs? They’re glorious. They’re porn star glorious except they’re REAL. They’ll make even the staunchest feminist reconsider her rabid stance on breast augmentation. These fabulous tits were a fabulous surprise after my first child, and a highly anticipated perk (for both my husband and me) after my second.

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2. I don’t have to work out. My baby weight lost itself because breastfeeding burns 500-800 calories A DAY. Even my best workout when I was in my twenties and maintaining a hot college body to bring the boys to the yard didn’t burn 800 calories. How crazy would I be to opt out of something that burns a shitload of calories while I sit on my ass, snuggling my baby, in my thirties?

3. I don’t feel remotely guilty about what I eat. I need to replace the calories nursing burns otherwise my milk production decreases dramatically. So heeeelllllloooo, Smashburger. Thank you for contributing to the cause of better infantile nutrition. And yes, I would like a salted-caramel shake with that. It’s all in the name of milk production.

4. I can’t forget my breasts when I leave the house. I’ve forgotten diapers, clothes, blankets, binkies, the stroller, the entire diaper bag after spending 20 minutes packing it, and even the friggen baby, but I’ve never forgotten milk. If you don’t have kids, having one less thing to remember as you herd your family out the door may not seem significant. If you do have kids, you know how significant it is.

5. I get guaranteed breaks during crappy social functions. It is completely acceptable to excuse yourself from a party to nurse your child in private. Even though I don’t really care about privacy, I sometimes take advantage of this understanding to avoid awkward acquaintances and annoying relatives and go play Angry Birds or check Facebook for awhile.

6. Aunt Flo goes on sabbatical. Thanks to breastfeeding, I made it 50 weeks sans Aunt Flo after my daughter was born. My son just turned one and I’m still waiting for her return. If you count her absence during my pregnancy, I haven’t seen her in nearly 2 years. TWO YEARS. I don’t miss that bitch at all.

7. I can instantly comfort my screaming baby without having to troubleshoot the actual problem. Sometimes I’m too tired or busy to try to figure out what the baby is crying about, so I just nurse him. Nine times out of 10, shoving a boob in his mouth calms him down immediately. Note: This also works with his father.

8. I can have unprotected sex for 6 months. When done correctly, breastfeeding can be a (somewhat?) effective form of birth control up to the baby’s 6-month birthday. You have to do it right, though, or you end up with Irish twins. like my parents did. D’oh!

9. Breast milk poop smells a hell of a lot better than formula poop. I have to change a lot of disgusting poopy diapers, so if anything can make them less disgusting, I’m in. Breast milk poop smells, but it doesn’t stink. Not like formula shit. I found this out firsthand when changing a friend’s formula-fed baby. I thought something died in her diaper. I almost called Animal Control.

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10. When my kids have kids, I can hold it over their heads that when they were babies, I did everything right and know everything. The extreme commitment and effort of breastfeeding lends a lot of credibility to the future backseat parenting of my grandchildren.

Related post: 15 Things They Don’t Tell You About Breastfeeding