Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Big Breastfeeding Post

I've talked about breastfeeding here and there, but it is about time to talk about it for realz.

Max is 7-months-old. I never gave myself a limit, minimum or maximum, for how long I would breastfeed him. I figured, if I was able to do it, it would happen. If he still wanted it, and I could still do it, it would continue to happen. Now that we're on the other side of six months, we figure, let's make it to a year, right? Sounds like a good, round amount of time to be able to say, "I breastfed my son exclusively for the first year of his life."

Except, breastfeeding is really, really difficult for me, and maybe not in ways that other people have difficulty. Or maybe my experiences are common and people just don't want to talk about it because it's supposed to be all natural. But the truth is, I do not love to breastfeed a lot of the time. Since the beginning, I have had issues, be them oversupply (and a Max who isn't really hungry), undersupply, or most often (as in, every other week practically) plugged ducts and nipple pores and infections. Right now I am nursing a double-breast infection and a serious supply drop and a baby who apparently hates the taste of the antibiotics I have to be on because he hasn't nursed well in two days. Yet, he has not tasted formula. While this is a point of pride for many mothers, for me it just is what it is. We even tried to feed him formula once and he would have rather sucked on my empty boob, so that was that.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I have bfing issues but I've worked through them. I pumped religiously at work and at home to freeze enough for Max and even enough to give away to a mom and baby in need. I hope in the end I will be proud of all this, because right now, all I feel is annoyed at the whole process. BFing is supposed to be so beautiful, so natural, so lovely, but I have a hard time seeing that from this place I am in.

And yet, look what my milk has done. Oh, he does make my heart melt sometimes:


Strawberry said...

Nutella feels quite the same...that is, somewhat sad and bitter that breastfeeding wasn't this beautiful, natural, easy thing, but a challenge the whole way. I'm sorry :(

Schroedinger said...

I am sorry, too. I feel your pain-- At the beginning I remember quite painfully sobbing on the couch, wondering why I couldn't DO THIS supposedly natural and beautiful thing. I have been lucky that since about 10 weeks everything has gone smoothly. (The massive differential in size and output b/t left and right notwithstanding.)I hope that the infection clears up quickly. Obviously whatever you have been doing is agreeing with Max :)

Laura said...

You and I talked alot about this when you were visiting, I think, but I just wanted to say that I LOVE this post! And that's despite the fact that I envy your oversupply as I struggle to maintain my supply for Charlie and we have to continue with formula for 1/3 of his ounces. It's not easy and it's totally okay to say it's not and that you aren't always enjoying it. I came back to work expecting to get tired of pumping really fast. I honestly thought I was going to give up at the 3-month mark. But you know what kept me going? Seeing how miserable Charlie has been each Monday when I go back to the office and he can't nurse all day. I wasn't sure if he cared whether he nursed or not, but he does. And that's what fuels me to pump religiously (even when I'm half asleep at night), to endure a ridiculous regimen of herbal and pharmaceutical supplements, and to practically run home at the end of the day to give him an evening feeding right from me and then get a good shnuggle afterwards. So don't worry about that badge of honor, C! Just know you are doing what makes Max happy...and on the flip side, he'll be just fine if you decide you want to stop. Hang in there! xoxo

Melody said...

I had an ugly relationship with breastfeeding too because of oversupply issues coupled with a preemie who never learned to suck and couldn't grasp my flattened (engorged) nipple well even with the use of a nipple shield. I was lucky that she was willing to take formula though. BFing was occasionally beautiful but most of the time really stressful and incredibly painful. I stopped at 9 weeks.

If you do find BFing till 1 year is not sustainable and he doesn't take formula, what are your options? Milk bank? Transition to whole milk early?

That smile. That smile. I swear that baby adorableness is a natural defense against tired beleaguered mothers who would otherwise smother their children. You can't look at a face like that and not feel happy in your heart, despite whatever else is going on.

There are many things I've done for my daughter that I resented greatly in the moment and I now hold up as a badge of accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

To put things into perspective . . . a baby bottle is the earliest form of container anthropologists have found in the world. Give yourself a break. If you want to continue to bf, then do so, if not, then join all the rest of us mothers who weren't able to bf for as long as our "self-imagine" wanted. (Which in my case was never. My son would have rather starved to death than to put my nipple in his mouth. I was bummed. He was just as happy to have my pumped milk bottle fed to him.)