Sunday, September 26, 2010

ambivalence about breastfeeding

Breastfeeding was INCREDIBLY hard at first, and so I struggled and struggled to make it work. I was on the verge of calling it quits, around five weeks, and then it suddenly got easier, due to no brilliance of my own making. It was probably just timing and good luck. Since then, W and I have had a fine time of it. Pumping absolutely sucked, and my supply through pumping was never very good. I think I just failed on that account. I tried to pump every two hours and follow the directions, but the little bags would fill up with just barely enough to get him through half of the next day at daycare. Ugh.

Now, at 9 months, I'm feeling like quitting yet again, not because it's not working, but because I'm just feeling done with it. I want my body back. W is also biting more than I'd like and when he feels like it, he hits me as he feeds. Lovely. I feel some guilt, though, because isn't that what motherhood is all about? I know the facts, that he's probably had enough BM to develop the immunities we all want babies to have by the time we reached six months. That he likes formula a lot and is completely comfortable with the bottle. That he's more interested in food these days anyway, and the breast is probably largely providing comfort and not just nutrition. But it's hard. I may never have another child. On the last day I breastfeed, it may be the last time my body does this amazing thing of feeding another person. And my irrational brain asks whether W and I will still be close without it--irrational because I'm actually certain we will. There is plenty of snuggling time without feeding already, and there's no reason to think it will end.

So we're down to two or three feeds a day--morning and night. And eventually, I'll drop one of those, too. It's like this phase is ending and another is beginning. As many people have said before me, change is really what motherhood, and what life, is all about.

I don't have any readers yet, which is still fine with me, but I want to add one beautifully written link here to Mel's posts about breastfeeding at Stirrup Queens. Even though I was one of the lucky ones able to breastfeed, I absolutely support the idea that we STOP putting so much pressure on women about the wonders of breastmilk. In that awful time where I was struggling and wanting to give up, I encountered my fair share of lactation consultants who berated me for thinking about it. They had me convinced that the problem was all mine, and that if I just wanted it enough, I could breastfeed. I shed more tears than necessary because of those women, and while they were also sometimes helpful, I see no reason to package the tears and the help together. Anyway, Mel is saying it far more eloquently than I, so here are the links. If I ever do have readers, again something I'm ambivalent about at the moment, someone might find them useful. And if I don't, I'll revisit these posts again to remind myself when I'm faced with other new mothers who don't need to be berated or scared into thinking that breast is always best. Breast is one fine option among many. Breastfeeding does not turn anyone into a genius, and it doesn't make mothers into goddesses. In fact, it's damn hard work, and anyone who says otherwise can fuck off.

Breast is Not Best

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