Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Superheroes and People without Breast Milk

That's me and about forty-nine percent of the planet, maybe less now because of all the popular and ubiquitous medications. It’s a little known fact that men have mammary glands, too, and they appear to be the target every new drug's side effects. Nipple shrinking, nipple sensitivity, engorgement, third nipples, you name it. If you want to feel better, don’t expect your man boobs to follow suit. Thanks to the pharmaceutical empire, we men may actually breastfeed our children in the future, while conveniently curing them of infant depression, anxiety, and erectile dysfunction. Warning: breastfeeding may cause dizziness, nipple bleeding, and chronic jealousy from Milk's Original Manufacturers (MOM's).

When we woke up from our first solid sleep in three days, Amari was swaddled up beside us, dreaming peacefully beneath a much too large hat. Carrie confided, “I feel abused and ill-equipped.” I listened quietly, I shared my own worries and doubts, and we both knew that time would be the only remedy for our fears. We turned our attention to Amari, marveling at her tiny little head, her fragile fingers, her thick, black hair, and her eyes struggling to focus on her giant, gawking, ill-equipped parents. Just six hours ago she’d been inside of Carrie where she’d floated peacefully for nine months, and now she was resting peacefully between us. It was amazing. In fact, it was so amazing that everything that used to be “amazing” had to find a new, less meaningful adjective. Looking into Amari’s eyes as they blinked our world into and out of existence, there was suddenly no room in my heart for fear.

The first few days were an education. Though I'm sure we’ll eventually heed people's advice to sleep when Amari's sleeping, it's tricky resetting biological clocks that have been set to "childless" for decades, and for the firs four days I suffered from major baby-lag. Monday, Carrie's milk came in which instantaneously changed the playing field. Where my sweatshirt or finger once sufficed momentarily in lieu of her high-nutrient, pre-milk colostrum, my soothing wardrobe and I have now taken a back seat to the all powerful boob. If Carrie were a superhero I would barely be a sidekick. While she would have a cool name like or The Provider or The Pacifier, I would be dubbed Nappy Boy or The Housecleaner or Only-Catches-Criminals-When-They’re-Sleeping-or-Nutritionally-Sated Man. In my defense, I can leap dirty diapers in a single bound and I’m faster than a speeding…well, I’m not really fast.

I imagine this is why some fathers end up feeling neglected, even jealous of the mother-child relationship in their first year of parenthood. The first two nights Carrie and I acted as co-workers sharing the graveyard shift, changing posts every few hours to provide each other with a brief respite and some sanity. Now that Amari is Coo Coo for Carrie-Puffs, I can actually sleep for solid blocks of time. Unfair? Maybe, but I think Carrie's feels pretty powerful right now, maybe even a little bit equipped.

Although Signmund Freud completely glossed over the phenomenon in his writings, there have been fleeting moments when I've suffered from Boob Envy. I see the way Amari looks up lovingly at Carrie, the eye contact coupled with hormones creating an irreproducible bond. What makes sustenance so great, I thought? I asked Carrie if we could paste photos of me on her upper breasts every other feeding. I started by asking for tattoos, then worked my way down. It's an old sales technique. She didn't bite, so I had to take matters into my own hands. One useful technique I've discovered - delusion. I pretend I'm driving Amari to the Boob Mall, my treat. Tit J Max, Eddie Boober, the sky's the limit - nothing's too good for my little girl. The next time Amari began fussing, "rooting" for milk as they say, I lifted her in front of my face, looked deep into her occasionally crossing eyes and said, "Are you hungry Amari? Look at me. I can help you." Then I passed her to Carrie, being very careful not to let them make eye contact.

Tomorrow will be my first day back at work, and Amari's one week birthday. I will miss the luxury of lying in bed as she takes her waking slow, reflexively punching and kicking the air, contorting her face in all sorts of curious poses, ambiguously smiling or passing gas, every little development in her life. She's changing so fast that it breaks my heart to think I'll miss any of it.

1 comment:

  1. That is beautiful and, again, so funny. I love the superhero names!

    Just think of all the bonding moments that you'll have with Amari when daddy is the love of her life with or without a milk producing boob!