I know, I know. It's a shock. I'm such a huge proponent of nursing your child that you'd think I was in love with it. But you'd be wrong. I'm not in love with it at all.
I suppose "hate" is a bit strong, though. Breastfeeding certainly has its benefits. I mean, I spend nothing on formula. And feeding him is easy. Sure, I haven't mastered the whole "feed him in public" thing, but it takes no more than 5 to 10 minutes in the car to get him fed.
It's not that it's difficult that troubles me. If you talk to most nursing moms, they'll go on and on about the closeness and the bonding they feel with their infant. They'll talk about how difficult it was to give up breastfeeding. How they felt they were losing something great. And then there's me.
This post is about to get VERY real. Just for a second.
I recently attended a board retreat for an organization I serve on. We advocate for all women to have a Doula if they so choose. And we really try to help Mommas establish a good breastfeeding relationship with their babies. And I am for all of that. But at this retreat, one of the founding members said that some of our clients have been sexually abused and that they struggle to breastfeed their children because they feel like they're doing something wrong. And our organization helps them get over that and allows them to find the comfort and joy in breastfeeding. I call bullshit.
I was sexually abused, and I know all too well what feeling she was referring to when she said woman that were abused feel they're doing something wrong. It was not an easy thing for me to get over. And there are times when I'm not over it.
I don't feel that all encompassing feeling of love, joy and attachment when I nurse my child. I just don't. I didn't with Ethan either. I can't wait to be done with it. So why do it then? If it causes me so many issues, why continue? After all, formula is just as good these days, isn't it? I've had people tell me it is, so it must be true.
But here's the thing. How can anything manufactured by man be better than what a woman's body produces for the baby she grew inside her body? Is human milk even comparable to cow's milk for feeding calves? No. So why would we think that milk derived from a cow is going to be as beneficial as human milk to a HUMAN baby? And have you ever read the labels of infant formula. It doesn't just say, "dried cow milk." I know it's chocked full of goodness with loads of vitamins and minerals that a growing baby needs, but it has no regional antibodies. It doesn't change its fat content and mineral content based on a changing infant's needs. And a thousand other things I'm not going into right now. I'm digressing quickly. My point is: Breast really is BEST.
I know I make a lot of mistakes in raising my children. We all do. But I also know that the second I found out I was pregnant with Ethan, I began sacrificing my wants and desires for him. I gave up things I wasn't ready to give up. I made decisions I didn't want to make that I felt were in the best interest of my growing child. I did these things because to me that's what a mother does.
And so when the idea of not nursing was mentioned, well, it was never mentioned. I always knew I would breastfeed. And the weeks following Ethan's birth proved that despite the pain, trouble, emotional issues, and all other obstacles, in this I would not fail. In this, I would persevere. And I would do it not because I felt it would create a stronger bond between my little one and me but because I knew it was the best thing for him. We both threw in the towel at 9 months.
Fast-forward to Dylan. Nursing him has been a breeze. He took to it instantly and hasn't looked back. I thought with how different things were with him that I might enjoy feeding my child. I still don't. I don't hate it, but it's not something I look forward to doing. In the same breath, I have no intention of letting anything other than Momma's milk touch his tiny little tummy until at least 6 months.
I do derive a certain amount of satisfaction in knowing that I'm able to give him such a strong, healthy start. I had to supplement Ethan at 5 months, and while I'm so thankful we made it that far, I am really feeling confident that I can make to 6 with Dylan. And then I will continue to feed him when I am with him until we both arrive at a stopping point.
No matter how uncomfortable it makes me to nurse, it isn't about me. It's about what right and what's best for my child. Period. There's no other way for me. No other choice. I've never viewed as such and won't start now.
And while I'm not the biggest fan of nursing in general, it's pumping that really does a number on me. I.Loathe.Pumping. Is there any other way to make yourself feel like a feeding machine? I mean, I hate having to close my door three times a day to hook myself up to this machine that pulls on me until it extracts every last ounce of milk I might have in there. And the pressure. I keep such close tabs on how many ounces I'm getting in a day. If I'm down a couple ounces, I start panicking and wondering what I can do to increase the output. Should I take ten Fenugreek pills every day that will no doubt make everyone around here come searching for the pancakes and maple syrup, just so I can say, "No, it's just me." Should I add yet another session to the mix? Should I this, should I that. Ugh. It's exhausting and stressful and I am SO OVER IT!
And that is why I set the 6 month goal. Six months of exclusively breastfeeding is the best start. Study and study proves this. And so I'll go until then. At that point, the pump is staying home. I'll continue to feed Dylan in the morning, evening, and at night, but my days of being hooked up to an extraction machine will be over!
A month and a half. That's all I have left. And I think of that every.single.day.