A story about my boobs.
Sometimes I wonder why I publish such personal things. And then I remember it's because I have like, 943 friends who are pregnant right now and this is the best way I know to help them not feel so alone.
So, a story about my boobs.
When I was still pregnant, I had already decided what type of mom I would be. I planned to breastfeed Carter - it was a given. Come hell or high water - my child would be breastfed and I would do it unashamedly in public. In fact, I planned on being so good at breastfeeding that I'd be able to whip out my boob and feed my child without even breaking eye contact with whoever I was having coffee with. I was also going to wear Carter everywhere - because baby wearing is in right now and the best way to be a parent and if you don't, you don't love your baby. I also had a million other semi-crazy ideas of how I would parent - how I would love my child and how I would be as a mom.
And then he arrived.
Thinking back on that day, I remember the nurse placing Carter on my chest and her helping him latch on right away. I felt the way a child feels when he makes it down the street for the first time without training wheels. "LOOK MA! LOOK AT ME! I'M BREASTFEEDING!" His quick latch led me to believe he was a Breastfeeding Pro and we were golden for the rest of time. Flash forward to three days of tears, chapped nipples, blood, nipple shields, pump parts, lactation consultants and a boatload of literature. Oh, and that was before we left the hospital.
For the last three months, I have tried to fit the mold of the mom I envisioned myself to be. After getting home from the hospital, I quickly started a regimen of feeding, pumping, syringe feeding and bottles. Rinse and repeat. I knew it was temporary and I kept my eye on the prize - I was going to breastfeed him successfully. I started meeting with lactation consultants and going to group sessions each week. If you looked remotely educated in lactation-related topics, I'd whip off my shirt in a heartbeat and ask for help. I signed up for classes outside the hospital to get an outside perspective. When they told me to go see a occupational therapist to evaluate his adorable, tiny mouth - I did. And that woman was full of shit. I rented a hospital grade pump, I bought extra parts so I wouldn't spend my life doing dishes and I woke myself up at 3am each night to sleepily attach myself to something that makes feel part-time cow. I bribed myself with cute nursing clothes and started taking Fenugreek like it was my job, eating oatmeal (I HATE OATMEAL. OATMEAL IS GOD'S CURSE TO BREAKFAST) and drinking milk tea that tastes like you just ate a Good 'n Plenty covered in dirt.
I recant all of this not to toot my own horn - but to prove to you a point - I've tried. My God, I've tried. And you know what? It's not working. I could go into the million reasons why it's not working - both on Carter's side and mine. But here's the only one that matters: I've stopped enjoying it.
That's right - you heard me. Come at me, La Leche League! Kidding. Sort of.
One night I sat with Carter in my arms, bawling my eyes out because I realized he preferred a bottle over me. The image I had drawn of the mom I wanted to be was slowing being erased and I was having a hell of a time letting go. But in the last two weeks, he had gained only 2 oz. This wasn't about me anymore. I was trying to force something that wasn't working and it was making me resent him - and he was suffering for it. I thought about all the time I had 'wasted' worrying, stressing, reading, pumping - and not just accepting that it wasn't in our cards and finding other ways to bond with him. And then I cried harder. And then I ugly cried so hard I'm pretty sure Donald thought his wife was losing her mind. And then I put Carter to bed and proceeded to google stories of women who decided to end breastfeeding for very similar reasons. Then I cried some more and whipped out my Neti Pot because I couldn't breathe. Then I wrote this post.
To my 943 friends out there who are pregnant - breastfeeding can be incredible. When it's great, it's great. When it sucks, it really sucks. If you want to do it - do it. Give it your all because your baby deserves your best - whether your best is 1 week or 18 months. Get help, ask questions, go see lactation consultants. I did those things because I wanted to know I had done everything that I could to be successful. And when (if) the time comes that you're ready to stop...you didn't quit. You simply changed your plan - you erased that image you had and drew a new one that is just as good as the first. Don't beat yourself up. Don't waste the time you have to bond. It hurts to think of those first few weeks when I'd have to lay him in his crib crying, because I was alone and needed to pump. I needed to do that for him. Or did I? Still not sure.
One last thing. I'm no baby mind reader, but I think I have one thing down - babies don't care if it's breastmilk or formula (apart from having an allergy to one or the other, obviously) They're just hungry. Carter looks just as milk drunk on my breastmilk as he does on formula. His adorable little derrrrp-y milk drunk face does.not.care. He cares that his mama loves him, takes care of his needs, and is not an insane ugly-crying basketcase.
Oh, and that baby wearing dream? Carter hates it. So...there's that.