10 Reasons I Hated Breastfeeding

621 Comments

hated-breastfeeding

I hated breastfeeding. HATED IT.

I hated it from the moment my son first painfully latched on until the moment, 57 long days later, when I’d decided I’d had enough and switched to the bottle. I hated every second of every feeding of every day. What a way to waste the first two months of my son’s life.

Breastfeeding has somehow become some sort of qualification for being a good – or even decent – mother. Forgiveness is given to those moms who attempt to breastfeed, but are unable…but the rest of us? Those who choose to feed our offspring factory produced milk rather than providing our own? We’re villainized for it. At least it feels that way.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


For me, motherhood only started being enjoyable once I stopped forcing something that, ironically, felt like the least natural thing in the world. Only then, did I start savoring the time rocking him to sleep, or appreciate the sound of his breathing, or study his thick eyelashes while he looked up at me.

Why did I hate it so much?

1. Breastfeeding consumed me. 24/7, it was pretty much all I thought about, all I planned for and all I did. How could it not be? I had to feed my son every two hours, each feeding took an hour, and by the time I was done, it was already almost time to feed him again.

2. I felt disgusting. I’d somehow though that gaining these porn star boobs would make me feel sexy and powerful. Instead, I felt like a cow. A leaky, stinky, weepy cow.

3. Holy God, it hurt! The feeling of having a tender part of me yanked on until it bleeds is not my idea of a good time. Sorry, Christian Grey.

4. My body was still not my own. By the ninth month of pregnancy, I longed to have my body back, and counted down the seconds until it once again was mine. But while I was breastfeeding, it still wasn’t my own. I was simply a flesh covered food delivery truck.

5. Pumping. No explanation needed.

6. Not knowing how much he was actually eating. My son ate around the clock, but I never actually know just how much he was eating. Did he get enough? Was I starving him? Was he sucking out nothing or milk? I had no clue.

7. My hormones went FUCKING CRAZY. It was like PMS on steroids.

8. I was on my own. I’m lucky to have a husband who wants to be as involved as possible, but as the sole milk factory, he couldn’t do all that much. My baby’s ability to thrive was 100% dependent on me. The pressure was just too much.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


9. I was self conscious. More power to the women who whip out a tit everywhere and anywhere, but I wasn’t one of them. Which meant that the minute anyone came to visit, I dashed off to find privacy. Not the best thing for a lonely new mom.

10. The guilt. Every feeding made me feel like something was wrong with me: Why wasn’t I connecting with him? Why wasn’t I loving providing for him? What was wrong with me? It’s taken me a while to realize that I wasn’t a bad mother, I just didn’t excel at that one part of motherhood. Fortunately for him, and me, I do at others. My role as a mother wasn’t and isn’t defined by how I chose to feed my baby. Hardly.

And neither is yours.

Breastfeeding Is No Fairytale

186 Comments

breastfeeding-pain

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


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.

Breastfeeding.

“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…

It didn’t.

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


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
  • Smile
  • Remember that our children are the future and try not to mess them up too badly

For now, this checklist is fine with me.

Breastfeeding, Formula Feeding, Who Cares?

115 Comments

It’s “World Breastfeeding Week” and “National Breastfeeding Month”; a time to celebrate nursing, eradicate shame over breastfeeding in public and educate the world on the benefits of breastfeeding.

And that’s all well, good and important. For sure.

But as a mother who wasn’t able to breastfeed any of my children, this month has always brought back that familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach… The feeling of complete failure. Almost ten years after I struggled with feeding my first (and subsequent second and third,) there is still no other issue which brings me more shame or sadness, and Lord knows there have been plenty of parental fails since then.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


And that’s why I love the “I Support You” movement so much. Announced yesterday by Kim Simon from Mama by the Bay, Suzanne Barston from Fearless Formula Feeder, and Jamie-Lynne Grumet from I Am Not The Babysitter (and cover model from the infamous Time magazine article), it’s meant to bridge the gap between formula-feeding and breastfeeding mothers; spreading the notion that we’re all feeding our children with love; by breastfeeding, formula feeding, however. 

“We are standing together, and we’re asking you to stand up with us. You, at the La Leche League meeting. You, in the lactation consultant’s office, perfecting your newborn’s latch. You, in the Nordstrom’s dressing room, nursing quietly on the couch. You, at your older son’s baseball game, nursing openly in the bleachers. You, who have cried rivers of tears over your feeding choices, and you, who chose without fear.

I support you.

You, in your hospital gown, asking the nurses for formula. You, shaking a bottle with one arm while your baby snuggles close in the other. You, who have researched the healthiest, most tummy-friendly formulas. You, who pump and mix and combo-feed. You, who have cried rivers of tears over your feeding choices, and you, who chose without fear.

I support you.

You, with your partner, as you feed the baby that you are hoping to adopt. You, who had a mastectomy and are locking eyes with new life. You, who chose your mental health, or your physical health, or your freedom, or your lack of freedom, so that you could feed your baby in a way that protected both of you. You, the Daddy who is finger-feeding your infant. You, the Mommy who lovingly pours formula into a G-Tube. You, at the NICU, pumping your breasts by the light of the machines that are keeping your baby alive. You, with the foster child who you are loving back to health. We see you. You are a part of this conversation too.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


We support you.”

A-freaking-men.

We need all the support we can get; all of us.

Not Breastfeeding

147 Comments

Mother Feeding Her Baby

I am not breastfeeding. I did not, and I will not.

Period.

There, I said it. Hold your fire. I’m sure there are women (and probably some men) out there gasping and shaking their heads. You know what – I don’t care.

This is the first time I have said those four words with such finality. It’s usually said quickly, eyes down, flinching under the weight of judgment.

As Pumpkin approaches her first birthday, happy and healthy, I have finally reached the point where I am okay with our decision and I don’t owe anyone an explanation for that.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


Actually, let me back up. My first statement is not entirely true. I did breastfeed. For five weeks. I tried to breastfeed anyway. Pumpkin and I spent those first five weeks crying and staring at each other, bleary-eyed and confused. She was constantly hungry. I was constantly wondering if she was getting any nourishment at all. Hubby just sat by helplessly watching the two loves of his life get increasingly weaker, more miserable, and more hopeless.

But I wouldn’t give up. I had read all of the information out there from the AAP, the La Leche breastfeeding mother Nazis, and all the other internet gurus with the requisite qualifications to post on an anonymous blog. I was convinced that I was a terrible, selfish, unloving wench completely undeserving of a child if I did not sacrifice everything to breastfeed for at least the first year (if not two). I knew, somehow, that I was being judged as a mother just for the mere fact that I had googled the phrase “switching the formula.”

Eventually we surrendered. The way Pumpkin voraciously attacked the first formula bottle I offered and then proceeded to double her birth weight almost overnight, I knew that she was going to be okay. But was I?

For the last 50 or so weeks I have secretly beat myself up over this decision. I beat myself up despite the fact that I may actually have the healthiest and the happiest baby on Earth. This isn’t just my biased assessment – daycare workers, doctors, other family members and even strangers confirm this for me on an almost daily basis.

Although she is healthy and happy, she does still get ear infections, and lots of them. We have even had to get tubes and she still gets infections. In my obsessive google-polling of every idiot with a WiFi connection, I have “heard” that I could have prevented this suffering by breastfeeding. So the self-beatings continued. If there was any way I could have tried again, I probably would have, even though it probably still wouldn’t have been the right decision for us. Unfortunately, that well had run dry many weeks ago. I was all but convinced that I actually was that terrible selfish person that the boob-pushing moms thought I was.

But now, as we prepare to celebrate one year together, Pumpkin and I are both standing up for ourselves. Her literally, as she is just learning to walk; and me, figuratively, as I know I am not a bad or selfish mother and I also know that our decision was the right one for us. While I won’t presume to love my child more than any other mother, I will say that I absolutely love her as much as any other mother, regardless of whether they are human milk machines or not. I love her unconditionally, endlessly, and fiercely. I would spare no expense and would give any part of myself for her health and happiness. For us, that part of me just wasn’t providing those things for her.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


And I didn’t quit breastfeeding for selfish reasons. I didn’t do it so I could sip martinis or stay out (either at clubs or in the land of nod) all night. I was worried sick about her milk intake. Some of that was probably crazy-first-time-mommy-post-partum-sleep-deprived freaking, but it was freaking nonetheless and it was taking away from the joys of those first few weeks together. I wanted to breastfeed because people told me I should. She just wanted to be fed and loved. At that time in our lives, those two desires were just incompatible and she won. Our house became a different place with the very first sip from the bottle and I won’t apologize for that and I do not regret it.

None of this is not to say that if we have another baby in the future we won’t try again and, maybe, future baby and I will have a different take on the whole thing. But for me and my Pumpkin, it just wasn’t right and I refuse to spend any more time regretting it or blaming myself for the inevitable ails of her childhood. Either way, Pumpkin is never going to remember where her first milk came from, but she will always know that she is loved without question and she will never want for anything I can provide her.

And besides, it’s Hubby who had ear infections as a child so, obviously that is his fault.

7 Reasons to Forgive Yourself for Not Breastfeeding

26 Comments

depressed-woman

Breastfeeding ​is the most primal and first tangible way we can show our undying commitment to nurturing the little person we have brought into this world.

But how does it feel for a mom who has a health condition that requires a medication that may harm her baby through the breast milk? What about a mom who has gone back to work for long hours, struggling to keep up her milk supply and feeling overwhelming stress because of it? Or maybe a mom who’s baby has been diagnosed by the pediatrician as showing “failure to thrive” and advised to give the baby formula, despite all of her efforts to increase her milk production?

How do those moms feel when they ultimately decide to give their baby formula?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

There are many reasons a mom many choose to not breastfeed (or can’t), and these moms often feel judged by others, “not good enough,” or guilty for resorting to formula.

As a mom who has coped with this difficult issue myself, I know how important it is to accept and forgive yourself when giving your baby formula. Here are seven reasons to forgive yourself for not breastfeeding:

1. Letting feelings of guilt, shame, fear, and disappointment ruminate affects your baby and how he or she attaches to you. Babies are perceptive little beings and feel the energy you are bringing to the room, even if you think you’re covering it up with coos and kisses.

2. New parents often set their expectations too high. Other families may seem like they have it all together but as a society, we tend to not be open about our early struggles with parenthood.

3. Prioritizing your self-care ultimately benefits your baby because when you are healthy, physically and emotionally, you are better able to connect and attend to your baby’s needs.  When we are preoccupied with stress and helplessness, the brain is no longer working clearly and not able to respond to the present situation appropriately.

4. Even with formula, you can foster a deep attachment that lays the foundation for a lifetime. Breastfeeding is not THE determining factor of raising a well-adjusted, healthy happy child. Cuddling, talking, singing, getting down and doing tummy time together, dancing, going for walks, and many other meaningful moments do not rely on the breast.

5. What others think does not have to define you. Don’t let what might be perceived as other’s judgment negatively impact your enjoyment and attachment. To those family members and friends who you care to inform, let them know your reason for formula feeding and be prepared for them to echo the expectation in various forms of “breast is best.” I found myself lying to the hospital nurse when I delivered because I didn’t want to hear a speech. I already knew what she was taught to say, but I was clear about what was best for me and had previously discussed with my midwife about my decision making (which was hard, but necessary). You don’t have to explain to everyone, just those who matter to you.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


6. While it has been established that “breast is best,” this statement is not intended to mean “breast is best at all costs.” If you are overwhelmed with a sense of failure and feeling like you can’t enjoy your baby, please reach out for support and be honest about how you feel.

7. Your decision to be honest and let go of the shame and guilt can ultimately empower someone else. Those of us who don’t breastfeed are not bad moms. It is often a selfless decision that has resulted from a painful set of circumstances that have diminished a period that we would have liked to experience as pure joy. The mom may have felt like she tried everything to continue breastfeeding and the resulting sense of failure has developed a depressive cloud over the fragile mom-baby connection. However, it is often not discussed and therefore the stigma continues.

Related post: Breastfeeding Is No Fairytale