Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Closing the farm

When I got pregnant, I said I didn't want to breastfeed.  I wanted the baby to have breastmilk, but wasn't interested in whipping out the boob in public, or when company was over.  I also wasn't interested in being the ONLY source of sustenance for this child.  I had a very clear objective - I would pump and pump and pump and we would feed using a bottle, and that would be that.

After discussing this with our doula, she advised that it would be smarter to start off breastfeeding so that my supply would be established, and then we could move to pumping part-time/full-time once I was producing enough milk.  I read up about this, and realized it was probably the smarter, less stressful route, and so this is what we did.  It wasn't long before I was pumping and building a stash, and we were also able to feed her one bottle per day.  This got her used to it, and also gave me a break in the evenings.

Starting out, breastfeeding wasn't easy.  In fact it was pretty terrible.  M had the hang of it right away, but my boobs paid for it.  While her latch was...aggressive, it wasn't perfect, and this caused a lot of destruction and pain.  It took several weeks to heal, and while my plight wasn't as bad as my friend Jenn 's , it wasn't easy, wasn't pleasant, and really wasn't fun.

We persevered because I knew that breastmilk really was best.  I had some ups and downs with supply levels, but eventually we got on track.  Right now I am breastfeeding once a day (in the morning) and pumping the rest.  I love knowing exactly how much she is eating, and I also find she spits up less while eating from the bottle (which I know sounds odd, but there you have it). 

I read a lot of blogs, and visit even more parenting forums, and am overwhelmed by how many people love breastfeeding their babies.  They say there is nothing like it, that they want to do it as long as they can, that the feeling of bonding is incredible.  But the truth is, I don't feel this way at all.  I think I may actually hate breastfeeding.  The only upside to it for me is that when I do it in the morning, I don't have to get out of bed to warm a bottle.  Maybe this means I am the opposite of maternal and M will grow up sorely maladjusted and psychologically stunted, but I can't help how I feel.  And I have given it more than a fair shake, I think.  Even now that it has become easy to breastfeed, I don't like it any more than I did when tears sprang to my eyes each time she latched.  In fact, I may like it even less since at that time I still held out hope that once it became easier I would enjoy it more. 

So I'm pondering when to quit completely.  I have quite a freezer stash, and I get a good amount each day when I pump.  However as she grows, if she isn't breastfeeding, my body may not interpret the signs of when to produce more milk, so I foresee running out at some point, or not being able to keep up.  Will I just continue supplementing with formula (currently I cut each feeding with a small amount of formula just to get her system used to it, and also to keep the pressure low for me to keep up)?  Will I quit pumping altogether?  I don't know.  For now I'm playing it by ear.   I feel guilty that I have had it relatively easy and even feel a bit selfish giving up since so many people who strive to succeed at this never get to do it.  But I know it will stop sooner than later - I know that if I don't like doing it, then it's not doing anything for her emotionally, and may even be harming her in that respect.  Bad Vibes Man.


Jall√°penno said...

I think there is so much pressure on women, and it's stupid. I was really lucky, I had an incredibly easy time and it just went swimmingly. My sister had a hell of a time, and she beat herself up and hated it for months before the 2 of them got the hang of it. If it's not making you happy, you're going to resent it, and who needs that stress. You tried it, you're doing wonderful things for your wee one, and she'll be fantastic regardless of what you decide.

Knit and Purl Mama said...

You are in no way harming herby not breastfeeding. I didn't really nurse any of my kids. My eldest I tried to nurse for 2 weeks, but supplemented. I did pump to 6 weeks. He was bottle fed exclusively from 6 weeks on. My second baby I nurse for 5 weeks but my eldest was throwing fits and tantrums so emotionally it was wrecking my house so I stopped. I also hated doing it in public so I felt confined to my house. My youngest was premature and in an incubator for the first 2 days of his life and had to go on a high calorie formula for the first four months so I didn't nurse at all besides expressing what I could while in the hospital with him. It is not for everyone and you do not have to feel guilty at all for stoping. It really is not for everyone. If you ever want to chat please email me.