I never thought I would a mom who breastfed. My mom didn’t breastfeed me and the idea grossed me out for a very long time. Of course, as I got older I came to know/understand the whole “breast is best” philosophy spewed by everyone and their mom … and figured if/when the time came, I’d give it the old college try.
I just never expected myself to last as long as I did.
Now 28 weeks pregnant with my second child, I find myself thinking about my breastfeeding journey and am torn between memories of sweet moments of a baby nuzzled to my breast … and the agonizing stress of a hungry, underweight baby. Memories of my little doll, milk-drunk drifting off to sleep in my arms, her bottom fitting in the palm of my hand … and the dreaded black pump bag (and it’s myriad of parts) I dutifully lugged with me to work day after day after day.
Though it’s a natural part of motherhood, nursing didn’t come naturally to me. While Maya had a great latch from the start, my supply sucked — in spite of trying every supply-boosting recommendation in the book. At our first pediatrician visit, my daughter had lost so much weight that the doctor told me to keep nursing but begin pumping and “topping her off” with formula. I hated hearing that; though I never thought I would exclusively breastfeed, I didn’t want to use formula that early on … but my kid was starving. Quite literally, the scale was going down after each weigh-in and she was already small at birth. Though I know it’s ridiculous now, I felt like a “failure” of a mom back then.
For nine looooong months, I nursed, pumped and supplemented with formula. Even when she was sleeping through the night at 11 weeks, I was still up at 12 and 3, pumping for months on end, long before her 6 AM nursing session. It was a nightmare situation … here I had this newborn who was sleeping 8-9 hours …and a husband also catching his z’s (he had been waking to help me with feedings/diaper changes) but in order to keep my supply up, I had to wake to pump.
I grew very resentful of my situation and began eliminating the middle-of-the-night pumps and finally, at nine months, weaned her and called it quits completely–hanging up my black pump bag for the foreseeable future.
While I had many wonderful moments breastfeeding, on the whole, I didn’t love it. I am sure it sounds selfish, but I hated being tied down; hated being a slave to my [evil] pump. I hated obsessing over every ounce I made, crying over spilled/spoiled milk, and dwelling on my supply issues. And while I am sure it helped bond us to some extent, I know for a fact it’s not the only way. After all, my husband clearly couldn’t nurse and they are close as close can be; between skin-to-skin contact and bottle feedings, they bonded early on and she is a total daddy’s girl.
While I would like to nurse this new baby and *hope* to be able to, I can’t tell you what will happen. Truly, I have no idea what the future holds and because of that, I honestly have no expectations. I will give it my all — like I did last time — but I know I am not going to kill myself to make it work this time. I hate thinking that I “wasted” so much of Maya’s early life stressed about ounces … And it’s hard enough being a parent to one child … two is going to be a real eye-opener for all of us. The less stress I can put on myself, the better we all will fare.
So instead of laying out a “plan,” this planner/Type-A chick is just going to hope that it comes more naturally this go around and that it’s a bit easier; that my body remembers what to do. All I can do is hope …