10 Reasons I Hated Breastfeeding

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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.

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.

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

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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.

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.

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.

Not Breastfeeding

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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.

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.

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.