Breastfeeding Confessional

>> Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I certainly shared my mixed feeling about nursing during Ada's infancy. I'll try not to hit all that stuff with a stick too much longer -- but I wanted to address breastfeeding today. I have a conflicted relationship with it. On one hand, I feel fortunate to offer food and comfort to our tiny babe. I know it's good for my health and hers. On the other hand, the early days and weeks can be downright maddening. Cluster-feeding, hour-long sessions, engorgement, and a total lack of personal space.

At just two weeks in, the ride is only beginning.

Am I alone in feeling this way?

Pregnancy is this absolutely miraculous process. But I don't love being pregnant because it means I'm solely responsible for nurturing a life. It means that I'm a host. Especially this time around, I was terrified being pregnant much of the time. In fact, one of the first things I said after giving birth was "I'm so happy I'm not pregnant anymore." This huge rush of relief surged through my body, washing away the anxiety that had plagued me for much, much longer than my 38 weeks.

Breastfeeding is a whole new and different responsibility. On the second day in the hospital, one of the lactation consultants visited me and asked how things are going. Well, I said, baby's latch is amazing -- but she fed every single hour last night. I'm exhausted, I said with a bit of a laugh, and really need a break. I looked for some sympathy, some understanding. But I was met instead with a concerned expression. I was also given information on newborn nursing habits and a brief chat about PPD.

I know all of that, I said, and I know it gets better (after all, I nursed Ada for nearly 18 months) -- but it's still just difficult for me. I'll come back later, she said, when you're more rested.

I don't know. I choose to breastfeed and go through all the emotions and, yes, inconvenience because I do believe it's beneficial for baby. I do enjoy the bond, but I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that sometimes -- even in summer -- I just want to wear a turtleneck and not bare my chest hours at a time. Also: Being home, I feel like breastfeeding is a small way that I'm contributing by not having to buy formula. And my babies (so far) seem to be really good at it. Yup. In so many ways, nursing is a natural choice . . . and it's one I'll continue to choose despite not loving it all the time.

But that's the thing. Is it horrible that I don't love breastfeeding?

This isn't some funk I've fallen into postpartum. It's how I felt with Ada, especially in the beginning. Is it OK not to relish the hours on end marathons of boob eating from 5 PM to 10 PM each night? Is it alright to feel frustrated that I'm on a constant 2 to 3 hour clock after four years of blissful independence? But is it also acceptable to admit all these things and still say that it's what I want to do? Why can I not be a bit irked with the whole thing (getting used to it again, at least)?

I guess these are hypothetical questions. In the end, it's all my choice. I feel fortunate to have choice. We're making our way through the trenches of the worst period, and I will admit it's easier this time around. Little Eloise is really my joy. I love seeing that she gets so much comfort from being near me.

Still, last night I don't think Ada saw me with a shirt on from after her nap until bedtime. Craziness. This time around, though, I'm hoping to go more easy on myself. The first time, I was pretty hard on myself for not feeling that nursing is a magical experience to cherish always. Right now, I'm trying to savor the good and make it through the bad and ugly. We've even decided to do pacifiers because the comfort sucking is a bit nuts, but that's a post for another day.

When I look up some questions about nursing on the web, I feel like there are two main camps. The people who quit really early and can't stand it OR the people who embrace it and just adore nursing. Please tell me I'm not alone being somewhat between these ends of the spectrum.


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