Make somebody happy today. Mind your own business.

You know what is no one’s business?

How a mother decides to feed her baby.

I feel silly even writing it, because it’s common sense, right?

Apparently not.

There are the (minority) extreme breastfeeding proponents who will unleash a barrage of disapproval or even hate at the mention of baby formula, yes. But what actually irks me more is the subtle digs at bottle feeding.

I see it a lot when women flaunt their successful breastfeeding. And I say flaunt, because while I completely understand their pride in this difficult task and their desire to share their happiness, I don’t appreciate sentiments such as “I wouldn’t feel this close to my baby if I weren’t breastfeeding”, or, “The inconvenience of bottle feeding would be terrible. We can feed anywhere we like!”

Breastfeeding organisations aren’t much better. Any pregnancy or parenting magazine you pick up will have at least one article on why breastfeeding is so much better for your baby. Every once in a while, you may find one that says, if you have to, formula feeding is ok.

This quote from a local newspaper was part of an article about a breastfeeding group, which did a very good job of making me feel both inadequate and cranky.

No matter what size or shape your breasts are, they are capable of producing all the nourishment your baby needs for the first six months of life.”

Because, see, mine weren’t.

The size and shape of breasts doesn’t determine their capability of breastfeeding, no, but merely having breasts does not mean that you will be able to breastfeed your baby.

We had trouble from the very beginning. I sought help from several nurses in the days and weeks after Devin’s birth, and while their suggestions made things slightly less difficult, they didn’t make it easy.

Armed with the information from a thousand books and magazines, I carried on, assuming that, as they all said, it would get better.

At the time, I thought it did. I thought that dreading every feed a little bit and holding awkward positions just to get the baby to stay on was normal. And, though Devin was average length but well under the curve for weight, he did keep gaining weight.

I’d reached the end of my rope after three months. I felt stressed and discontent, Devin was always fussy and still quite small, and I’d had enough of being stuck on the couch, struggling to just feed my baby.

Finally pushing my guilt aside and switching completely to formula was relieving. I was much happier and more relaxed, Devin settled down and steadily put on weight, and I’m sure Jene felt better by association. In the end, I don’t think I was producing enough milk. In less than a week, my boobs had forgotten they’d ever been involved in providing human sustenance.

SO.

Breastfeeding – great. We are all well aware of the benefits by now. If you can do it, good for you. I’ll stand up for your right to do it anywhere.

If you can and don’t want to, that’s fine, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you can’t do it, hey, that’s normal, too.

It might take a village to raise a child, but the village can mind its own goddamn business when it comes to how the parents nourish it, because it’s not the villages body, it’s not the villages mental health, and the village isn’t getting up at 3am in the freezing cold to feed the screaming baby.

Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Lots of things change when you have a baby.

Wait, wait. Don’t leave. I have other, less redundant things to add.

One major change is sleeping habits.

Before I got pregnant, I was an insomniac. Some nights, I wouldn’t bother going to bed at all because I just couldn’t handle the frustration of trying to fall asleep, and it meant I would be exhausted enough to drop off relatively quickly the following night.

While I was pregnant, I suddenly had little trouble sleeping. In the beginning I was so nauseous that sleeping was the only thing that felt ok, so I did it regularly.

Clutching the cardboard tube core of a roll of Christmas wrapping paper.

(Look, I still have no idea why. It made me feel better and that’s all that mattered.)

After Devin was born, I felt narcoleptic, but had to follow an insomniac schedule. I was asleep five minutes before my head hit the pillow.

Now, with Devin sleeping straight from 8pm to around 5am, it takes me about two minutes to fall asleep.

So that was my miracle insomnia cure.

Another change is emotional.

I have always been sensitive and easily moved. I cried in Lilo & Stitch. I cried with my youngest sister when she was upset during her first week of kindergarten. I cried while watching coverage of the 2008 China earthquake. I cried to my mother after I was made Dux of my primary school because her mum wasn’t around to see it.

When I was pregnant, I cried because a mouse had been caught in a trap in our kitchen but wasn’t killed. It was squealing and flipping all over the floor. Jene dealt with it while I sat on our bed in tears.

Since Devin was born… well, I just got a little choked up recounting that mouse story. I have deliberately avoided too much exposure to news of the Haiti earthquake. It’s not callous or uncaring. I just can’t handle that much tragedy, especially with it coming not long after the Samoa tsunami.

I’ve cried while reading birth stories, both happy and sad. And looking at photos.

I recently discovered this site, and initially couldn’t explain to Jene why I was upset, because when I started to talk I was suddenly overwhelmed and instead of speaking, I sobbed.

The rawest nerves are those close to pregnancy, birth and parenting. In the case of the above blog, I cried for the man who gained a daughter but lost a wife. I cried for the woman and the baby that she saw once but never touched, and I cried for the tiny little being who would never feel her mother.

I avoid mentally putting myself in these situations. It’s hard enough feeling the sadness of a stranger’s loss.

But I gather myself. I appreciate my normal, happy experiences. And I move on.

Which brings me to what may be a personal observation, or what may be a much wider, actual trend.

Since I became pregnant, everyone is having babies. Babies, babies, babies. I hardly ever saw (or took much notice of) pregnant women pre-pregnancy.

During my pregnancy, I noticed a few other incubators, but I was largely focused on the sudden explosion of people with babies and toddlers.

Prams, everywhere!

After my baby finally came out, holy sexy times, Batman! Pregnant bellies around every corner. Had there been an inexplicably long blackout? Was everyone sexing it up in the ensuing darkness?

Were people so desperate for five thousand dollars that they were willing to create a human being? Was the financial crisis that bad?

It was/is crazy. A friend of mine faced four months in a row of new arrivals last year – myself, her two sisters and another friend.

Facebook is seemingly flooded with new and expectant parents.

And the baby sections of my local department stores look as if everyone has received a disaster warning that I missed.

NORTHERN TABLELANDS – HIGH BONDS WONDERSUIT SHORTAGE DANGER. POSSIBLE INFANT VEST CRISIS. RESIDENTS ADVISED TO INITIATE EMERGENCY BABY SUPPLY PLANS. STOCK UP NOW.

I seriously cannot wait to find out what the birth rate was last year, because every fertile woman in my area alone had at least one baby. Every one. That’s the only explanation.

I guess in the end, all of those points were pretty redundant anyway.