We had just brought our son home from the hospital. My wife and I, both exhausted — I’m guessing she way more than I because of the seven-pound human that she heroically pushed out of her unmentionables — settled in for our first night home alone with our new family member. As first time parents, we were constantly worrying if we were doing everything the right way…Is he breathing? What is that noise he’s making? Does he smell like a combination of almond butter and Windex to you, and if so, is that good? Is it me, or is it that every time I say, “Corinthian leather,” he tenses up?
In short, we were constantly learning, day-by-day, week-by-week. After a few weeks, my wife became relatively confident that she could care for an infant on her own, whereas I was merely confident that he was a relative. Most things were new to my wife, and pretty much everything was new to me — one of which was the process of breastfeeding, and specifically, the breast pump.
It happened, probably in the first day or two of being home with our newborn, when I asked my wife, “Um, what are those things on the coffee table that look like Grammys?” After initially laughing, a disappointed and melancholy look overtook her face, likely an outward expression of her brain thinking at that moment, How could I have married this idiot? Grammys? Are you freakin’ kidding me? She then schooled me, as she usually does in all worldly matters, on the granular details of breastfeeding, to include the device that is not used to award music industry professionals annually, known as the breast pump.
After absorbing her graduate-level teaching of breastfeeding for the better part of 30 minutes (I latched on quickly), I was both overwhelmed and in awe. Sure, I had heard of breastfeeding in the past and I had even seen a woman or two in public with what presumably was a baby attached to her breast under some sort of cloak (although, post 9/11, “If I saw something, I said something”, as who really knew what was under that cloak, you know? And let’s face it, cloaks in general are shady.). However, I had always assumed that it was sort of an on-demand type of thing (streaming only breast milk, not House of Cards, in this case), such that when the infant was hungry, the mother put the baby to her boob — end of story. What I didn’t realize, however, was that the mother needed to build up her supply via breast pumping so that she could not only have milk set aside for bottle feeding, but also so that she could supply her baby as needed and regulate her supply based on his needs and feeding schedule (i.e.: constantly) — or something like that — I wasn’t paying that close attention…
I had no idea that these poor women, after going through the physical and emotional trauma of childbirth, now had to stick these gramophone-type of contraptions onto their boobs while a small motorized box pumped the milk into attached miniature bottles (let’s just say that if I saw this device before my breast pump initiation laying around, attended or unattended in an airport, I would have “said something”). When coupled with the physical toll of the infant sucking on the breasts, breast pumping could be exhausting and overwhelming, to say the least.
Now that I was up to speed on the intricacies of breast pumping, something still didn’t sit right with me. Surely, we as a society had made progress in sucking technology over the last 130 years, such that the contraption didn’t have to resemble a record player speaker from the 1880’s. There are many modern things that suck: Dyson vacuums, Roombas, The Cleveland Browns, Donald Trump, etc. — none of these things look like a gramophone, the old-school device after which the Grammy Awards are modeled. Something was amiss, and I needed to find out what…
Upon performing my due diligence, as well as referencing my iTunes, it was clear to me that the music industry was in a death spiral. Gone were the days where the record labels called all of the shots and reaped large financial windfalls, as the modern day is ruled by streaming music, artist self-production, and social media promotion. I henceforth concluded that the music industry, in all of its wisdom, saw this day coming fifty years ago, and planned accordingly.
Their plan was simple, yet genius: develop additional, recurring revenue streams for the music industry by controlling a virtually recession-proof industry — breast pumps. They would do this, hidden in plain view, by aligning the industry’s top honor, The Grammy Award, with an innocent and unsuspecting industry — one which nobody would associate with music. Over the past half-century, the leadership within these two industries have been in cahoots, and laughing at the public’s expense all the way to the bank; well, that stops now, as I am about to expose the already badly-wounded music industry and strike the death knell for the Grammys — a meaningless, self-aggrandizing, and overrated award show.
For starters, as my initial impression exemplified, the breast pump device that attaches to the woman’s breast looks exactly like a Grammy Award. This is clearly by design to mock the uninformed; they might as well call the award “The Mammy” — but that would be too obvious of a move for these industry stalwarts, who seem to take pride in their five-decade-long inside joke. What they’ve woven here is a web of exclusive-access humor, to be shared only among the C-suite executives of the top firms in the music and breast pump industries.
Then, of course, there is the much less obvious association between the Grammy Awards and the breast pump industry. At face value and viewed separately, both entities seem incongruous and beyond reproach. However, if one peels a few layers of the proverbial onion back by looking at the four “General Field” categories of the Grammy Award — Album of the Year (AOY), Song of the Year (SOY), Record of the Year (ROY), and Best New Artist (BNA) — and compares the various years’ winners to the struggles and challenges of a breast pumping woman, they will clearly see how the music industry has been controlling the breast pump industry right under our noses for half of a century. By awarding each of these categories to songs, albums, and artists that pay direct or indirect tribute to the plight of the breastfeeder, in any form, the music industry is incentivizing its artists to produce pro-breastfeeding music, benefitting both the artists’ careers and the breast pump industry.
But what really gives my theory some legs, if you will, is when I simply reflect on the last 13 weeks of raising our child — particularly as it relates to my wife’s trials and tribulations with breastfeeding — and compare them to the aforementioned “General Field” Grammy winners since 1966; when I perform this exercise, it establishes the smoking gun which proves that the music industry, through its highest honor, has been in control of the breast pump industry for the past 50 years. However, I should let you, the reader, decide for yourself, as I wax poetic about our experiences…
In the first few days home with our son, my wife would yell things like, “I Need You Now“ (2010, SOY, Lady Antebellum). Being a good husband, and now father, I jumped to my feet and ran to assist her in any way that I could, whether it be to hold the baby while she adjusted some breastfeeding contraption or fetch a burp cloth, pacifier, swaddle blanket, etc. It was baptism by fire, and we both quickly realized doing this by oneself was not sustainable — in fact, we were thinking that we too could Use Somebody (2009, ROY, Kings of Leon) when collectively things got busy for us at work.
I was very good at the reactive side of newborn parenting (i.e.: quickly responding when my wife needed something); what I was awful at was being empathetic to my wife, particularly as it related to her challenges with breastfeeding and breast pumping. For instance, when my wife would justifiably complain about how painful or taxing breast feeding was, I would stupidly retort something like, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy (1988, SOY, Bobby McFerrin), we’ve got a beautiful baby boy” or, “Why don’t you call the lactation consultant — she did say if you just want to talk to her that You’ve Got a Friend (1971, SOY, James Taylor).”
I just didn’t get it. I needed to empathize with my struggling wife, who was fighting physical, emotional, and hormonal battles and she needed me now more than ever. But it took me a while to realize this, and I continued to make similar ill-advised comments, but now From a Distance (1990, SOY, Bette Midler), as my wife didn’t want me anywhere near her. In fact, I overheard her on the phone with one of her friends saying, “This guy is Killing Me Softly With His Song (1973, SOY, Roberta Flack). If he doesn’t change his tune, he’s going to be Somebody That I Used to Know (2012, ROY, Gotye and Kimbra).”
This was not some sort of false alarm, like a Braxton Hicks (1993, BNA, Toni Braxton) contraction; this was the real deal, and I needed to get it together. Not only would it take some significant time and effort for me to Get Lucky (2013, ROY, Daft Punk) with her again, but more importantly, if I didn’t start to really understand what she was going through with her breastfeeding and breast pumping, she was going to tell me to Beat It (1983, ROY, Michael Jackson), both literally and figuratively. I thought to myself, I need to do the right thing and empathize with her, and if I do that, surely our marital Love Will Keep Us Together (1975, ROY, Captain and Tennille). The bottom line was that I just wanted it to get back to normal, you know, like The Way We Were (1974, SOY, Barbara Streisand) before I was an insensitive jerk.
So, of course, I did the right thing and tried to empathize with what my wife was going through. I did this through intense internet research and closely observing her, and what I found was that breastfeeding and breast pumping were no joke. For instance, it could be a Beautiful Day (2000, SOY, U2), where a new mother feels like she could go out and Change the World (1996, SOY, Eric Clapton), but then the baby cries, and all bets are off. The mother thinks, Here We Go Again (2004, ROY, Norah Jones), this little monster needs to feed yet again. She thinks, I wish it was 1989 (2015, AOY, Taylor Swift), back when I was just a kid, where I didn’t have any major responsibilities…I didn’t have to always look at Clocks (2003, ROY, Coldplay) to see when I need to feed my baby next — breast feeding is just Always on My Mind (1982, SOY, Willie Nelson), and frankly, I hate it.
I came to find out that new breastfeeding mothers particularly hate the Morning Phase (2014, AOY, Beck), where it is like 3:30 AM and the breastfeeding is purely transactional; the mother just wants desperately to go to sleep and the baby just wants its precious milk — that’s it. The two are effectively like Strangers in the Night (1966, ROY, Frank Sinatra), exchanging glances and bodily fluids.
But the reality check comes for new mothers when they first start the breastfeeding process, I came to find out. Obviously, giving birth to a child is miraculous, wonderful, joyous, and beautiful — nothing in the world could be better. The mother believes that she has put the hard part, giving birth, behind her — which, in essence, she has, from a physical pain and stress standpoint. If she chooses to breastfeed, the mother presumably goes into it very optimistically, thinking that once she places the baby’s mouth on her breast it will feel like a Kiss From a Rose (1995, SOY, Seal), only to find out that the inside of the baby’s mouth feels like a Jagged Little Pill (1995, AOY, Alanis Morisette) due to clogged ducts, nipple blisters, etc. This is when the mother may or may not briefly regret going off of the pill, only to look at her infant and realize that it is all worth it.
For my wife, like I’m sure for other breastfeeding mothers, pain was an issue for various reasons. I would overhear her in one-way conversations with our little one during a breastfeeding session — she would say things to him like, “I find it hard to believe that you Can’t Slow Down (1984, AOY, Lionel Ritchie)…Every Breath You Take (1983, SOY, The Police) with my nipple in your mouth is quite painful; and I know you can’t help it, but right now, All I Wanna Do (1994, ROY, Sheryl Crow) is finish nursing you so this pain will hopefully stop…” Literally, this poor woman, like I’m sure many other new breastfeeding mothers, was experiencing Blood, Sweat, and Tears (1969, AOY, Blood, Sweat, and Tears), with every feeding, leaving me feeling terrible and helpless.
Which brings us to today…We are 13 weeks into raising our son and things have gotten much better for my wife on the breastfeeding and breast pumping front. While she still experiences fatigue and occasional supply-anxiety, we are starting to get the hang of it. It has been taxing for her, like any new mother, but nonetheless it has been a wonderful and Unforgettable (1991, SOY, Natalie Cole) experience for us as a family. My wife had some friends over the other day, most of whom were Single Ladies (2009, SOY, Beyonce); she was taking them through our first three months with a newborn, from how it took a while for her body to Rehab (2007, SOY, Amy Winehouse) after childbirth, to all of the clothing challenges during and after pregnancy — not that it is an issue for a breastfeeding woman, as for the most part there is No Jacket Required (1985, AOY, Phil Collins) when you have your boob in a baby’s mouth. What I really took away from her explanation of the last three months to her friends was that although challenging, frustrating, tiresome, and occasionally painful, it has been the greatest experience of her life — and I agree.
Finally, my Grammy research has revealed that there have been only two artists to win all four of the “General Field” categories, whether it be in the same year or over multiple years. Those two artists happen to be Adele and Christopher Cross. So what, you ask? Well, if you look at it through the lens of my conspiracy theory goggles, it gives my premise further credence. For starters, breast pumps are given, for now, to all new mothers for free through an Obamacare mandate. Interestingly enough, the name of the brand of breast pump that is given out, at least in our case (so it must be all-encompassing), is Medela. If you break down this word, Medela, from the perspective of a new mother, it is quite telling. Once she has the baby, the mother realizes that it is no longer about “me”, because, she is now a mother, or “Ma”. If you rearrange the first “e” and the “a” in the spelling of Medela, it becomes Madele. You don’t have to be an NSA codebreaker to realize that hidden within this new spelling is the name Adele, one of the two people to win a Grammy in all four of the “General Field” categories. Coincidence? Please.
What about Christopher Cross, the other artist to win all four “General Field” categories, you ask? (Or, if you are my wife, you ask, “Who the hell is Christopher Cross?”). Well, I’m sure that sometimes his close friends call him Chris, or even sometimes regular people refer to him as Chris Cross. When someone does this, he or she may then become confused with the hip-hop duo from the early nineties known as Kriss Kross. The two members of this group, The Mac Daddy and The Daddy Mac, aside from being unique for their fashion sense decision of wearing their clothes backwards, also had a smash hit with 1992’s Jump. The chorus of this song was simply, “The Mac Daddy will make you jump, jump…The Daddy Mac will make you jump, jump…Kris Kross will make you jump, jump…” Again, one doesn’t have to be Alan Turing to figure out that the Daddies Mac were imploring all mothers and prospective mothers, through a catchy lyric and a term I’ll dub “subliminal rhyme”, to do something that rhymes with jump — yup, you’ve guessed it: pump, pump. And as far as their clothing dyslexia — this is also an inside joke by the music and breast pump industry executives, as let’s face it, what breastfeeding woman hasn’t put their shirt on backwards after a 4:00 AM feeding session?
The facts are clear, ladies and gentlemen. The music and breast pump industries have been secretly working on this scheme since 1966, and we, the unwashed masses, sit naively by as they rake in the dollars. I Don’t Know Why (2002, SOY, Norah Jones), but this really bothers me, and I think it should bother you as well. Perhaps I’m wrong, because I am a life-long conspiracy theorist. Since I was a kid, I have always had these wacky theories on certain issues and maybe I’m just Still Crazy After All These Years (1975, AOY, Paul Simon). Maybe I’m just a person that thinks too much into situations and can’t accept things at face value…maybe what I’ve just detailed is all coincidence…maybe the Grammys don’t care about commercial success over critical acclaim and don’t have a controlling interest over the breast pump industry and the breastfeeding community at large…maybe the earth was created in six days, less than 10,000 years ago…maybe global warming is a hoax concocted by the Chinese government…maybe Trump can, “Make America Great Again”…oh, What a Fool Believes (1979, SOY, Doobie Brothers)…