Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Thing About Breastfeeding...

The thing about breastfeeding is, it can feel like both a blessing and a curse.

It is wonderful in so many ways-- you feel so incredible to be able to feed and nourish this little person and watch them grow, thanks to you. It also feels pretty great knowing that you are giving them the best food they could get, that you are providing them and yourself, too) with so many great benefits. No matter how busy the day is, you have pre-scheduled cuddle sessions all day long. You bond. There's all the conveniences along with it, like not having to wash bottles everyday, being able to simply unlatch your bra to feed them when they're hungry (as opposed to listening to them scream while you mix formula and heat the bottle), not having to bring bottles with you when you go out. And then there's the way it sets you apart from everyone else in your baby's world. I remember in those early days, when I was so tired and overwhelmed, and the one thing I knew I could do for my son that no one else could was to feed him. If I hadn't had that, I think I would have immediately gone into personal crisis mode, feeling like there was nothing special about me, as opposed to, say, my mom who seemed to deal with him so well when I felt clueless.

But it can also feel so limiting at times. Yes, it made me feel special in those early days to be the one to nourish him-- I also at times felt trapped, knowing that I HAD to be the one to feed him, that I had no choice but to wake up and feed him whenever he needed it, day or night. Sure, Zach helped sometimes with night feedings but I still would have to get up and pump, so even though I'd get to bed a glorious 20 minutes earlier than otherwise, I was still waking up every 2-3 hours. D hasn't been taking bottles at all lately, and frankly I'm not sure I want to keep on trying with him. Maybe by giving him bottles with water, but when I have a few minutes to myself each day do I really want to spend them pumping milk (and then scalding it on the stove so it lasts, and washing all the pumping equipment) that will probably end up being poured down the sink anyway? I don't know if it's worth it at this point. Even if he did, I could get a few hours away if I wanted to... but I won't be able to get away overnight for probably at least a year. I may get a break here and there, but in the end I'm still at his beck and call every 1-2 hours (yes, he's eating that often these days) and there's no telling when that will ease up.

Most of the time, day to day, the pros greatly outweigh the cons. I'm glad and proud to be able to breastfeed him, and while in that first month I often was tempted by sleep deprivation and seriously sore nipples to give in and go with the canned stuff, I KNOW this is the right thing for us both, and have no intention of stopping anytime soon. But every so often the weight of this responsibility will push down on my shoulders a bit, and I'll dream a bit about the days when I don't have to wear nursing bras, and will have a bit more freedom to spend some time on my own.

Of course I bet by the time we get there, I'll look back on these days and miss our bi-hourly cuddle sessions terribly.


  1. Awwww, I know just how you feel! It's wonderful but can be a bit trying at times.

    I hated pumping. HATED it. I had to do it because I was at work, but kept it to a minimum. No way would I have bothered pumping if I was at home (had to exclusively pump the first 3 weeks she was in NICU and that was enough). Though we never gave formula, having the occasional bottle so you can go out once in awhile is not the end of the world. Though I'm a huge BF proponent, I don't think formula is an evil. It serves it's purpose, and if that purpose is giving mom a break, that's ok. As for the bottles, don't bother. If you do have to go away, he'll figure it out (we ended up with the playtex drop ins because the sitter could squirt the milk into her mouth).

    You're still in early days, and he's still hitting major growth spurts. It'll all slow down after awhile and settle into a more predictable pattern and you'll likely find it all a bit less demanding. It's taken me 22 months before my tops could fit again, but you get used to it :)

    Good job mama!

  2. Yeah, I completely agree with Cherise. I remember feeling like you - loving breastfeeding but feeling trapped by it too - and it does get easier. He will, eventually, someday go longer stretches and you'll be able to get out by yourself. Felix NEVER took a bottle which was kinda of a bummer but I hated pumping so it worked out. We were willing to use formula for those few occasions but he just wouldn't take the bottle. At 9 months he started going to a babysitter part time and she would give him sippy cups of water and he would nurse when he was with me. We really managed to breast feed part time until he was over two years old and I was able to go out and do things.

    He's still so little but I know time is a weird thing and for you it seems like forever!

    Cherise's other comment made me laugh because on my trip back to the states I picked up some new bras - finally - after more than 2 years (including the pregnancy) I felt that my breasts were back to normal... :)

  3. Oh, and I'm happy to hear that D 's little system is ok! He's been through a lot already! :)



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