I really never gave much thought to breastfeeding with my first son. I simply had the same approach I had to childbirth: no plan, trust the professionals, let it come…or not. I’ll deal either way. I made it 3 weeks before I asked our pediatrician, “how long do I have to keep torturing myself?” She looked at me in shock, and then uttered the most amazing phrase I’d heard in the last 10 months:
Loralei, the end game here is a healthy baby AND mama. He’s not losing weight, but he’s not gaining, and you’re miserable. I wouldn’t care if you had NEVER breastfed; we do not live in a 3rd world country where his sole survival depends on you. Formula has made amazing strides in even just the last few years, and don’t you trust that I would never recommend an option that DOESN’T get us that end game?
I did. I trusted her more with my new cherub’s sweet life than I trusted myself–she was the professional, I was the one screwing up. Or so I had thought, until she gave me the confidence booster I needed to finalize the decision.
For me, breast was not best.
It wasn’t because I wasn’t trying or that I was doing anything wrong. I just had a hungry baby with whom my body couldn’t keep up! Actually, let me rephrase that: hungry babies.
My second son is now here and a few weeks old, I originally wasn’t even going to TRY and breastfeed with him. Why stress myself out? Why feel like a failure and disappointment AGAIN? Alas, my motherly instinct kicked in, and I was able to feed him pretty wonderfully…for about a week. Again, we were back in the pediatrician’s office with a baby not gaining weight. Again, we had a hungry baby who refused to latch on to my right side. Again, she watched my face as she offered the supplementing option, and again, I cried.
Although her suggestion was something I was expecting and even HOPING for, it didn’t make me feel like any less of a failure. Yet, as the relief flooded over me as she (again) made me feel like less of a hot mess, I realized what I had been too afraid to admit aloud all along:
I. HATE. BREASTFEEDING.
Other than the bond I felt with my babies, I legit despise everything about breastfeeding. I don’t think that makes me selfish, or a bad mama in any way. In reality, I was more worried about others finding out and judging me, than I was about my own mental and emotional health on the topic. Cuing my inner Elsa, I decided to just Let. It. Go.
Once I admitted that truth to myself, the confidence within me grew again. My first born is a thriving, walking/talking/extremely intelligent toddler. Full of curiosity, with a temper like mine and strength like my husband’s, he has a large vocabulary and runs EVERYWHERE. He’s not obese and has only been sick 3 times, which is pretty awesome considering how much gross floats around daycare! He loves me and (other than bringing a new baby home) doesn’t resent me–our bond is tight.
I am well versed in the benefits of breastfeeding. I’ve read the studies, seen the documentaries and listened to fact upon fact from multiple lactation consultants. Shoot, I completely agree with them, and am no longer jealous of those moms who are able to breastfeed–I adore them! You go, mama!! It’s just not for me.
It was not worth it for me to delve further in to the PPD zone with my first son, by feeling chained to the house and terrified to leave, for fear of feeding time – a bottle and formula helped me become a functioning member of society again. With my second son, who ended up back in the hospital at 8 days old, the decision to go to bottle/formula (and forego any further pumping as well) was an easier decision, for the simple fact that I wanted my baby to EAT and regain his health–which was more important to me than keeping my pride.
Bottom line? There are many scenarios that enable a woman to breastfeed for as long as possible. Maybe they have no problems producing, qualms about feeding in public, or simply need to do it as a money saver for their family. I totally get that. But hear me on this mamas: if breastfeeding is not for you, please do not let anyone bully you in to feeling guilty about stopping–or never even starting. Just as there are so many reasons TO breastfeed, there are equally as many reasons as to why some of us cannot. Breastfeeding should be a personal choice for ALL mamas, regardless of anyone else’s opinion on it (mine included!!).
So latch and feed, or heat and shake, do what’s best for YOU. I promise that everyone around you will be happy just that YOU are happy. Take care of yourself, girl. After everything you just went through to bring this miracle in to the world…YOU DESERVE IT.