When my wife Brandy had our first son Jackson, she transformed into a breastfeeding Bellagio fountain. Breast milk shot through the air in precisely orchestrated patterns that captivated onlookers.
But seriously, breast milk was everywhere. Even with our little man getting his fill, Brandy had to regularly fire up the time machine-ish breast pump (whirling discs and silly straw-like tubes inside an opaque plastic casing), and pump all the extra milk into small plastic bags. Our freezer was packed. I mean packed. Over time, we stopped enjoying ice cream and waffles and frozen pizzas just to accommodate the breast milk. To eliminate some of it, I put it on tongue depressors and sold “breastcicles” to the neighborhood kids on hot summer days. For us, supply never ever outweighed demand.
I was reminded of that breast-tastic period seven years ago when I read about the blog “Don’t Have a Cow, Man.” A new dad to a young daughter, “Curtis” (he did not disclose his real name) planned to live on his wife’s excess breast milk (at the time, they had a 22-cubic-foot freezer filled with it), and document his daily consumption. “The first day started at noon and I only drank 44 ounces, just over half of the 66 I need to reach the target 2,000 calories,” Curtis wrote in a post titled “Day 1 and Day 2.” “I didn’t feel hungry or overly full, just satisfied, and the next day I didn’t have that ‘give me food!’ feeling I usually get in the morning.
But once ABC News covered the story, and it trickled down to every parenting blog on the Interweb (check out our Show & Tell blog about it here), an angry tide rolled in. Curtis’s blog was hit with comment after disgusted, vitriolic comment about how wasteful and ignorant he and his wife were being with this precious liquid. Because of the heavy scrutiny, Curtis has shut down the blog. In fact, there is not a single mother-Googling sign of it anywhere. The excess breast milk was eventually donated to a mom with quadruplets. (In our case, the ratio was two boobs per infant. So a half boob per infant is cutting it a little close.) Today, Curtis is back on solids.
Yes, it’s great the breast milk found a home with a mom in need. But who are these people passing judgment on Curtis’s decision? How is it anyone’s business what they do with her breast milk? If they want to make a breast milk igloo, or build Breasty the Snowman in the front yard, they absolutely have that right. There’s a hint of “right to life” to the public reaction: We know what’s best for your family. Your family is making a mistake, and we know how to fix it.
Of course, that’s the price you pay for putting your social experiment out there for public consumption. And of course, "Curtis" had an inkling the beatdown was coming: He didn’t change his name because it worked for Prince.