I'm just going to say the thing you're not supposed to say... I don't like breastfeeding.
There, I said it.
Now before you go reaching for the pitch forks and torches, hear me out. Make no mistake that the sentiments I have toward breastfeeding are in no way, shape or form a reflection of my sentiments toward my baby. I am madly in love and adore the crap out of sweet little P-Nut. What I am sharing here is strictly in relation to the act of breastfeeding. Period.
No one can prepare you for it. People will try, but there is really nothing they can do or say to get you ready for what is about to transpire. I know that applies to everything baby related from pregnancy, labor, or parenting in general. But I found this to be the most true with breastfeeding.
If you are a first time mom you may hear people tell you, "breastfeeding will come naturally." Or, "you are going to love breastfeeding... It was my favorite time with my baby." I was told these things and couldn't help but assume I'd feel the same way.
However, I was super nervous about breastfeeding from the start. Nothing about the act of having a baby suckle from my teet sounded appealing to me. I don't care how cold hearted that may sound, like I said, I'm not talking about my feelings toward my babies I'm talking about the act.
And since I was on board with the benefits of breastfeeding and so many people had positive experiences to share, I was definitely up for giving it a shot.
Then reality set in...
This was not as simple as baby sees boob, baby wants boob, baby gets boob and mom gazes down at her suckling babe while babe gazes back at mom and all is right in the world.
The reality was my nipples were in no way prepared for what they were about to go through! The cracks, the bruises the bleeding, and now vasospasms. My breasts were in no way prepared for what they were going to go through! The engorgement, the tenderness, clogged ducts. And I was in no way prepared for what I was emotionally going to go through.
There isn't a lonelier time then when you are with your baby in the middle of the night, deliriously tired and your newborn will not take your breast. You don't know why. They won't get latched and if they finally do your nipples are so sensitive and in pain that you seriously start to think you can't keep doing it.
The pain. We are told, "if you feel pain you are doing it wrong." That is a load of bull! Of course, there is pain caused by an improper latch which should be addressed and fixed. But what about the rest of the pain? What about my nipples being so sore after a non-stop day of cluster feeding? I'm doing it wrong?!? What about the pain caused by my milk coming in? My body's doing that wrong too?
There is pain involved with breastfeeding and that shouldn't automatically mean that the mom is "doing it wrong." I'm not doing anything wrong by trying my hardest to provide something pure and good for my baby.
Then there are the babies themselves. They have to do their part as well. Little C was not a proficient sucker. He had a bit of a recessed chin and could barely gather out an ounce while feeding for over 20 minutes on each side. Before I knew what the problem was, he would get so angry that nothing was coming out and would literally be screaming as I kept on shoving my boob in his face. It was awful. Not natural. Not enjoyable for either of us.
I started exclusively pumping and I was honestly relieved to be doing it.
Now I have P-Nut. From the start we had a much better experience. The difference between her and C was how much more she was attached to me. Something I was not at all prepared for either.
I know how ridiculous that sounds. How could I not be prepared that my newborn baby would need their mother?!? Well, Little C was much more independent from the start and also had a very strong attachment to his father. I knew he loved me but Hubs had a very calming effect and bond with C from day one.
From sun up to sun down P-Nut is attached to me. Not just as her main food source but she even uses me as her pacifier. She wants to latch on to calm down.
I am more than happy to be that for her it just took it's toll initially. I couldn't place her down or be more than two inches away from her and no matter how much I want to help my baby and be there for her, there truly are times where I need to step away. Tend to my toddler, get some coffee, or just to take a shower and clear my head. But as soon as the water turns off I can hear her screaming for me in my hubby's arms and I barely have a chance to dry off before I'm at it again.
I know it seems like I'm complaining about what it takes to be a mom but I'm really not. I gladly do what I have to do, I'm simply trying to share that something I thought was going to be natural and wonderful has not felt that way to me at all.
I get frustrated I struggle so much with breastfeeding. Not just logistically, but that I don't enjoy it. That makes me feel guilty and like a terrible mother. How could I not like something that bonds me so closely with my daughter? Why don't I enjoy it?
I wish I could pin point it or express it more eloquently, all I know is I want to like it as much as I think I should. Does that make sense???
If there is anything I've learned about my breastfeeding experiences so far it is researching and gathering as much information as possible has been a huge help for me as well as talking about it with other mothers.
For example, one of my friends is a pro. She has a daughter two months younger than Little C who has just now started to wean herself from mom. My friend never in a million years would have thought she'd breastfeed this long or that she would have enjoyed it so much. She also said that she didn't like it at first either and struggled just as much as I am. I can't tell you how much that helped to hear.
Then she sent me this article and said it really helped her in the beginning. After reading it myself I felt so much better about what I was doing and it gave me a much greater understanding of my baby's need for me. I wish I had read this either before my children were born or at least right after.
I still can't say I'm in love with the act but I can say I choose to keep going. Not because I'm a martyr but because I can. I am able to do this for my daughter and I know that at any moment I can stop if it becomes too much for me. After all, there is so much more to being a good parent and mother than what you feed your babies. Plus, I'm told it will get easier and I may start to love it as much as I feel I should.
I hope if you take anything away from this it is how you can admit you don't love a certain part of mothering as much as you thought you would or should. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to being a mom and I certainly hope you don't feel bad or embarrassed if you need to admit that something just isn't working for you. Besides, in most cases there are numerous ways to do one thing when it comes to parenting and finding what is the best fit for you and baby is so important no matter how big or small that "thing" is.
Do some research, ask for help, talk to your husband, talk to your doctor or your baby's doctor, talk to your mom, a sister, a girlfriend. No matter the topic and no matter what you feel, it is fine and you shouldn't suffer through anything alone.