Thoughts on Motherhood: Feeding

I know not everyone is into the mommy topics...and if you're not, run away now. 
This post is ALL ABOUT some millennial mama drama. 

Although there is somewhat of a life lesson type thought at the end if you're interested.


It has been one of the hardest, most frustrating and confusing parts of being a new mother.

Growing up, I think most people fed their babies formula. I was formula fed, and any time I remember hearing about breastfeeding it was always with a little bit of a whisper, like it was weird.

Things have changed. 

Now breastfeeding is THE THING to do, y'all. It is THE BEST and most amazing and natural thing that is going to set your child up for LIFE, don't you understand?!? 

It helps the mother bond with the baby, and provides antibodies, and will prevent allergies and asthma and tooth decay and basically is the magical unicorn of baby health.

Do I sound dramatic? Well, so do the breastfeeding die-hards.

I wanted to breastfeed. I kept saying while I was pregnant that I would try it, but not super stress out about it. 

But I did also ask my husband to please not just accept defeat, and encourage me to keep going at least to 4-6 weeks.

Well, I ended up super stressing out about. 

To the point where I spent at least 60% of my first Mother's Day as a mother crying.

Breastfeeding is hard. 

It basically takes up all your time within the first 3 weeks, and it hurts. I won't even go into the details, because this isn't that type of blog, but it hurts. And everyone just says "Oh it will get better."

At one point I told my parents it's like getting repeatedly punched in the face, and crying, and people just going "Ah whatever," as they walk by.

To be fair, it kind of gets better. Possible TMI, but I have a traumatized boob. Traumatized, that is the description from the lactation consultant. Basically, while some pain is normal some is really really not. And it took me flat out refusing to listen to all medical providers and stopping nursing on that side...and a month later I am almost healed. The side that works though? Yeah, that side did get better and nursing no longer hurts.

I had to supplement, because my trauma made my supply drop a lot. And I was so miserable that I did not want to try and boost it. Supplementing is when your baby gets both breastmilk and formula. It's been working well for several weeks.

Look, I think breastfeeding is great. And had I not been traumatized, I may have stuck with it. 

But truthfully...I didn't enjoy it enough to fight. I didn't want my baby's first few weeks, and the precious 3 months I have at home with her, to be spent literally fighting to get her to eat.

And yes, it was a fight. It was not super sweet, and we did not bond through breastfeeding. I described it at one point as trying to get a wriggling catfish onto my boob (country folks who have seen catfish flop around will understand). She started loosing weight. Her output (aka diapers) severely decreased below what is healthy. It was AWFUL.

Again, breastmilk is basically magical and perfect. And breastfeeding is supposedly THE BEST thing you can do for your child.

But the pressure to do it, and ONLY it, was too much. 

It was so much responsibility and everyone just kept acting like it should either a) be natural and wonderful and I should never question it, or b) it would suck and I should just deal because I am a mother now so my feelings don't matter, only what is best for my baby.

I'm not cool with either of these viewpoints. 

Breast is the best, okay. But I cannot truly believe that it is the defining characteristic of motherhood. I just can't. 

I made the decision to wean off to only formula. Currently I nurse about once a day...and the thought of stopping completely does upset me a lot. I feel bad. I feel like a failure. And I will miss those occasional moments where she nursed well and I felt like I was providing something special for her.

But I also feel angry that I'm being made to feel bad at all. 

Especially in a country with such crappy family paid leave-because the thought of finally figuring out breastfeeding, only to go back to work and have to figure out pumping, makes me want to lay down and sleep for the next 2 years so I can just avoid the whole thing. 

Formula is a perfectly fine way to feed a child. Sometimes I feel like the breastfeeding community is really more about moms saying "I did this super hard thing because I LOVE MY CHILD more than anything else in the world, including myself. You are clearly an inferior mother for not doing the same" than it is about treating their child well. It seems full of pride and judgement.

And even if the biological benefits are as magical as some people claim, I don't think the emotional aspect is something I can handle.

Being solely responsible for my child's nutrition was a huge burden- although some view it as a privileged. 

There are still restrictions to how I treat my body, and it still belonged to someone else. There is still so much pressure- don't use a shield, don't pump, don't let ANYONE EVER interrupt your schedule or dare to think they have a right to bond with your child (even the father). Oh and get ready to cry if your child takes a bottle, because that is precious special time that someone is flat out stealing from YOU, MAMA!

There are plenty of women who have great experiences breastfeeding. And there are some women who won't treat you the way the above paragraph describes.

I am so glad I tried it, and I'm so glad we made it through at least 5 weeks. 

That's still hopefully going to provide a healthy boost for her.

But, formula fits our life a lot better. And maybe it is selfish of me to provide anything less than the best for her. But you know what. If that's the first lesson I teach Maisie, I'm okay with that.

 Perfection is bullshit. Try your hardest, baby girl, but realize you are not defined by defeat or failure or being just a smidgen less than the best. 

And never be ashamed of being honest about what you need. Yes, being a parent (or a spouse, or a daughter, or a good friend) sometimes requires sacrifice. But self-care is important, and required for any type of healthy relationship.

Yeah, I'm 100% fine with that attitude being the thing I pass down to my daughter.

1 comment

  1. I stopped checking my Feedly and didn't realize you had posted, but I'm glad you wrote about this! I have a friend who didn't breastfeed. They just couldn't get her daughter to latch most of the time, and the couple of times she did, my friend couldn't get over feeling awkward and weird about it. And you know what? I do not believe that it's still a positive bonding experience when the mother is unhappy or uncomfortable with it. Babies are supposed to pick up on our emotions, right? So it has to be better to hold them and bottle feed and transmit those happy emotions than that stress and guilt and frustration and pain.

    As a non-parent, I obviously don't know, but to me it seems like this constant feeling of being judged for not doing what you "should" has to be one of the hardest part of being a parent. It seems like there's already enough pressure from your own desire to do what's best for your baby without the outside community presuming to tell you what they think you should do, and I hope you do not waste one more minute feeling bad about your choice!