Breastfeeding Is No Fairytale
Sometimes, life is just harder than we expect it to be. Maybe we put too much pressure on ourselves? Maybe we buy in too early on romantic ideas about the future?
- Prince Charming
- Picket Fence
- Glass Slippers
Nobody tells you the truth. Prince Charming? How many frogs are you willing to meet first, Cinderelly? Picket Fence? Why? So you can be HOA compliant? Screw that shit. Glass Slippers? Someone just try to pry these UGGs off of me with a goddamn crowbar.
Nevertheless, when I was ten, I started plotting and coursing out my future. I was easily influenced by song lyrics and so I turned to the masters like Whitney for inspiration.
Age ten was also when I fell in love for the first time. His name was Jon and his family lived close to mine, in a blue-collar suburb of New Jersey. He was out of my league and his hair was prettier than mine, but that didn't matter when it came to matters of love.
Please excuse my check lists. They make me feel organized.
- Have kids
- Teach my kids well
- Let my kids lead the way
- Marry Jon Bon Jovi
Over time, I learned. My checklist needed some adjusting. But I still, you know, yearned. I imagined what a perfect wife I would be. I was going to have an amazing career. I was going to be the Indian Connie Chung. I dreamed about the perfect husband I would have. How I would look as I tossed my smiling children into the air, believing that the still developing Polaroid image matched what I envisioned. And so what if I took some poetic license? The future had a few great things in store for me.
Namely, "Pilates" and "Brazilian Blowouts."
In my hazy Polaroid picture, I was always a very giving, selfless mother (with great posture (Thanks, Pilates!) and even better hair (Thanks, Keratin! You sure make me shine!)). I just didn't realize how much more complicated my checklists would become.
- Can cook meals to keep the whole family happy. And healthy.
- Can still maintain killer gym workouts and a toned physique.
- Can work hard for the bacon, fry it up in a pan while still keeping things sizzling in bed.
- Raise balanced, well behaved and kind children without ever touching a remote control.
My checklists would even look perfect. I would make calligraphy check marks.
I guess, after a while, I just really didn't understand how MANY checklists there would be. Or how MANY new items I would add to that list myself. How many times I allowed someone to add new items to my checklists for me. Checklists which not only became unrealistic, but unachievable.
Look. I am not saying that marrying Jon Bon Jovi was ever achievable. But I was ten. As a grown woman, once I checked off the items, "Married," "Strong career" and "Make children, per instructions from Whitney," that list grew so fast, sometimes it was easier to just stay in bed and cry than try to tackle all of it. The boxes kept coming, and I could never keep up with my beat up Sharpie. Never mind calligraphy.
I don't even know how to DO calligraphy.
I think I hit an all time low at one point in my life when I could not accomplish what comes so naturally for so many women.
"Breast is best." I knew this. I know this. And I planned to. I really did. But things didn't quite work out how I expected. Rather than use this post to tell you why it didn't work, or how much I tried or how many tears were shed and how much pain I felt, let me just cut to the chase.
It didn't happen. It just…
And I can't always explain to everybody why it didn't work. And I don't have it in me to try to convince everyone how much I tried. And I will never be able to get over that feeling of initial judgment when someone asks not if I breastfed, but instead how long I did it for.
Note: I usually avoid having to answer by running away and saying, "Lo siento, no hablo Ingles," but this doesn't work well with friends and family, who know that the only Spanish thing about me is that my husband is the spitting image of Eric Estrada. And I like rice and beans. Que bueno!
I am proud of my friends who have successfully breastfed, appreciating it more because I knew how challenging it was. I hear my friends talk about their abundant milk supply and the feeling of bonding they shared with their children. As they talk and commiserate about things like chapped nipples, I applaud them. Trust me, I was so READY for chapped nipples.
Sometimes checklists have to be amended. I had to scratch off, "Handle chapped nipples."
I recall one time being on Facebook and seeing a friend's post about how one of the formula companies had sent her some Enfamil. I recall how ANGRY she was. She wanted everyone to know she was going to write them a scathing letter about sending that "poison" to her door. She got a LOT of likes.
I left a comment asking if she wouldn't mind leaving it on her porch since I was driving that way anyway.
Ok. Ok. I didn't. But the only reason was because my son was using a different formula. Otherwise, I would have been all up on that shit.
There are days where I still feel guilt about my lack of success with breastfeeding my children. And it bothers me. I sometimes wonder if it has impacted my children. There is always that nagging thought in the back of my head when my daughter gets an ear infection or my son gets a brutal cough. Or when my son thinks he's a pink cat and crawls around the house purring, "MEOW."
At times like that, I can't help but think, "Is this because I didn't breastfeed?"
I can play that game with myself, but it will just detract from all the things I am doing right as a parent. I have no idea why my son thinks he's a cat or if their colds are because of me or the snotty kid they played "Ring Around the Rosie" with the other day.
For now, my checklists seem to have shifted.
- Be happy
- Remember that our children are the future and try not to mess them up too badly
For now, this checklist is fine with me.