As a mom who breastfed her first baby (cheerfully) and is breastfeeding her second baby (grudgingly since her determined hunger strikes completely unnerve me), I think it's important to ... feed your baby. Yup. That seems important. Regardless of how you do it, you've probably thought long and hard about it and I know Bre's words will speak to a mama who needs to hear that she is doing what is best for her baby by figuring out a system that works for them both.
Meet Bre. After being born and raised in Hawaii, Bre went to college in Indiana where she played soccer and got her degree in Communications and Public Relations. Now she enjoys organizing, Starbucks, and blogging about being a pastor’s wife and mom of two under two at Maintaining Me.
The Breastfeeding Struggle
I don’t want to start a #momwar right here and now but I do want to talk about breastfeeding. Actually, I want to talk about a topic even more controversial – deciding NOT to breastfeed. Breastfeeding and I have a love/hate relationship. I love that it’s free. I love that I finally look like a girl with the amazing pair of boobs I got. And I love that it’s a great way to bond with my baby! On the flip side, I hate spending weeks with a baby attached to my breast. I hate being the only one my baby needs. But mostly, I just hate that it doesn’t come easy for me.
I breastfed my son until he was 6 months old. One morning I got up to feed my son like I did every single morning and there was nothing. I was able to pump some milk but it looked blue and like there was no fat in it at all. (I know some of you already know exactly why this was happening but don’t ruin the story for the rest of them). It took us about three more weeks until we finally caught on and realized I was pregnant with our second child (hello morning sickness). At that point I was done trying to figure out what my body was doing and had given up breastfeeding. I will secretly admit that I was so relieved that I didn’t have the burden of making sure my child was getting enough food. I was able to get out of breastfeeding and no one could judge me because it was sort of like a medical reason, right?
Even though breastfeeding and I aren’t exactly BFFs, I was determined to make it work for my daughter. I was going to exclusively breastfeed until her first birthday even if it drove me crazy. Little did I know that breastfeeding could actually make someone go crazy. I wouldn’t let my husband give my daughter a bottle and I never went anywhere without my baby in case she needed to eat. I watched my freezer stash like a hawk. I was drinking 5 bottles of water a day and taking all the fancy herbs and supplements. I was even drinking the special teas and pumping extra in between my daughter nursing every two hours.
It seemed to be working until my daughter hit her 6 month growth spurt. That tiny baby somehow went from eating 4 ounces to guzzling down 8 ounce bottles! I tried taking even more supplements. I tried pumping more often and for longer, but nothing was working. I felt like a failure. Let me clarify that I have nothing against formula, besides it being so darn expensive. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Breastfeeding is so natural. It’s pretty much a mother’s most primal instinct and I couldn’t even do it. What kind of a mother can’t feed her own child? How can it be that I have failed not once, but twice now?
I suddenly knew something had to change. I was sitting in my bed, crying and wearing two day old pajamas, when I broke down and told my husband everything. I was stressed out. I was disappointed in myself. I was exhausted. I can still remember asking my husband if he was disappointed in me. To my surprise he was confused and had no idea why he should be disappointed. It turned out that he didn’t care at all that I had failed at breastfeeding, and our daughter didn’t seem to care that she was eating formula. If anything she seemed more content. The only person with the high expectations was me. I was the one driving myself crazy when I only pumped 3 ounces. I was the one making myself stressed out. So I decided right then and there that I was done. I was done pumping until it hurt too much to continue and I was done being a crazy mom. While I will never be completely stress free because, hello two kids under two, I will say that am so relieved.
However, the biggest change I noticed was with mine and my daughter’s relationship. For some crazy reason I will never understand, I think I had started to resent my daughter. Maybe I thought it was somehow her fault that it wasn’t working. I don’t really know. But after I stopped breastfeeding, I slowly started to bond with her again. I stopped handing her off to my husband as soon as he got home from work and I started to miss her when I was gone. I finally enjoyed being with her! Since then I’ve seen an amazing change in both our attitudes. We had both been craving that relationship only a mother and daughter can experience, and we were finally able to breathe when that connection formed. And while I am still slightly disappointed that I wasn’t able to meet my breastfeeding goal, I was finally able to give my daughter a bond we so desperately needed, and I will take that trade any day.
I know Bre would love to hear your thoughts and I would too!
Leave this mindful mombie some love and why not share her words?