my mom conundrum: breastfeeding

I can truthfully say I breastfed all my babies. And I can also truthfully say there is so much I disliked about it. Although every child was a different experience for me, not one of the three did I ever feel fully prepared for everything I endured.

My first baby never latched on and ended up rushed to the hospital with jaundice. While there, I learned that breastfeeding can lead to cracked, sore and bleeding nipples and I thought, “Bloody boobs? That’s what I’m trying so hard to achieve? No thanks.” So from then on I pumped and fed him breastmilk from a bottle. It started out a great idea, but quickly turned into a not so great one.

Around 4.5 months, when it felt like I had breastfed forever, I decided Mason was just going to have to learn to survive on formula like all those other neglected babies I’d heard about.

With baby two I prepared myself better. I did not want to repeat pumping and feeding, so I armed myself with creams and education and determination to breastfeed.

I remember it hurting really bad at the beginning, but getting better after a couple of weeks. But I never felt comfortable feeding in public (or even at someone’s house), so I progressively supplemented more and more until it seemed like a good idea to switch to 100% formula. Milo was about 6 months old, and I was super proud of myself for a new personal record.

With Arlo I was obviously so much older and wiser, and had this magical thing called Google to prepare me even more. Everyone said if it hurts you’re doing it wrong, so I figured this time around I’d just make sure it never hurt and I’d be set.

I’m convinced that the pain thing is all a lie. It hurt so bad I started feeling fearful when Arlo would cry because I knew how painful it’d be to nurse him. And although the constant, swear-inducing pain subsided after a couple weeks, at least every couple of months it’d come back in some form. Plus I pumped at work, the uttermost least favorite of things I’ve done in life. Through all the months I breastfed, I secretly wished I’d run out of milk while simultaneously worried I would run out of milk. We’ve been formula-only for about a month and it’s awesome.

Yet through all this hatred for breastfeeding, I somehow emerged as a mom who still champions breastfeeding for others. I LOVE that women feel more comfortable choosing bottle over breast if they want, but there’s a weird part of me (that I don’t really understand) that judges them a little for doing it.

Why is that? I know their kids are fine, I know plenty of people who decided not to breastfeed or couldn’t breastfeed. I mean, WTH, I didn’t even breastfeed all that successfully myself. And I never liked it! Why in my sane mind would I try to talk people into doing something I found ridiculously uncomfortable?

I mean, there were some pluses. At the newborn stage when I wasn’t sure what Arlo needed, I could try feeding him without wasting time and formula making a bottle he might not want. And the middle of the night feedings are infinitely easier with a boob (although not as easy as making a significant other make the bottle).

But overall, it’s not a plus. In fact, now that I’m not feeding him, it’s almost uncomfortable for me to think I once did. And so I am back to my same inner conundrum. Why do I still think it’s so great and all able moms should do it?

Does anyone else feel this way? If so, can you tell me, “It’s ok, I have confusing thoughts about this too because _____________.” Or, “If it helps your inner battle, you should know that __________________.” Or, “You sound crazy. It’s probably due to having pregnancy fatigue for 9 months, then baby fatigue for 9 months. Don’t worry, you’ll be normal again soon. In like 9 years, maybe.”

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One thought on “my mom conundrum: breastfeeding

  1. Well said. We tend to forget that breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally to everyone. Some women choose to breastfeed, some bottle feed. Choosing one or the other doesn’t make us bad moms. It makes us moms period.

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