I’ve been breastfeeding for nearly 6 years now straight, and I think I’ve heard it all. Breastfeeding permeates every area of my life. When baby is first born, I spend hour after hour breastfeeding. Newborns nurse constantly (which is normal) and if I’m not nursing, then I’m changing my nursing pads, pumping or trying to find time for chores or things I really want to do (like take a shower!). Breastfeeding has changed my social circles, the family members I visit/interact with and how I do and plan everything during my day. Breastfeeding is a HUGE part of my family and I and I enjoy sharing our experiences with other Moms. It has become, and will forever be a part of me.
In the beginning I was pushed towards formula. I was formula fed as a baby, and the women in my family did not breastfeed. Not only did my Mom, Grandma and Aunts not breastfeed, they told me over and over again how great it was (while I was pregnant). I grew up hearing things like “How could she just whip it out in public, that Mom needs to cover up!” and the idea that there was something sexual to breastfeeding or shameful about doing it in front of others.
“Formula is easier” they said. My own Mom insisted that someone could watch my baby all night so I could sleep, or if hubby and I wanted to go on a date or for a few hour trip. It was tempting…I wouldn’t have to pump, worry about getting back to baby and anyone could feed him. I did try one to go out with hubby a few weeks after my first son was born. We both sat at Panera silently. Eventually we admitted that we missed our baby terribly and couldn’t wait to get back! I knew the next time we went out for dinner he would come along and I would end up nursing him awkwardly hidden in the back booth in Panera until my confidence and nursing skills improved. I purchased my first baby carrier too…those things should be handed out at the hospital!
How things went wrong. I was induced for the birth of my first son (which I heavily regret) which lead to having my water broken (because it was 7 am and that’s the time the Dr. went around breaking water) and getting my epidural (because it was my turn). I was left with a nurse who decided it was time to push (because I was 10 cm) and 5 hours into pushing (I later learned you listen to your body about when to push), I was being wheeled off for a c-section. Despite all of that…Breastfeeding went great for us, at first.
Then formula was “ordered” for my son because his biliruben was high and he had to be under the lights 24/7 for several days. Everything went downhill from there. He had trouble latching. My nipples became cracked and even bled a little. I cried for about 6 weeks straight. I felt like a failure. Nothing had gone the way I planned and my husband and Mom were offering me unlimited rest…all in exchange for formula. I didn’t give in, stuck with breastfeeding and almost 6 years later I’m nursing my 4th baby and tandem nursing for the 3rd time. I’m glad I chose this path, it has been the right journey for my children and I. I am thankful to have made it through, to be able to produce milk and I cried the first time I got a few ounces out with my pump. It’s emotional to say the least.
Through all of this I occasionally run into formula feeding Moms who seem to really have a bone to pick with breastfeeding itself and are very angry and possibly even hurt. One of the reasons that my social circles changed drastically. I never thought that the way I fed my baby would change the people I spend time with, but it did. Luckily, many of the breastfeeding Moms I have met also cloth diaper, babywear and aim to eat organically. I feel like I’ve known them for years! I feel very fortunate to have them in my life…even if we’re all so busy that it’s just online. When I do occasionally run into what seem to be very angry, resentful and preoccupied Moms who formula feed. I have been attacked (verbally) and told things like:
If you want to feed your baby formula, that’s your choice. I honestly don’t think any ill thoughts. Most Moms I’ve run into are working so hard. So hard. What I usually think is that I hope our kids know how much we love them! If I have mentioned breastfeeding it’s because I spent 10 hours today doing it. It’s part of me…a HUGE part of me and my family…and just like anything else I would spend 10 hours doing, yes…I’m going to talk about it.
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