Monday, January 31, 2011

When Breastfeeding Sucks


I am one of those detestable women who loved being pregnant. While it was certainly not without it's discomforts- I was fortunate enough to have a complication free pregnancy which allowed me to work up until the day I gave birth and gain no more than 35 pounds. And giving birth? Oh my, I'm still in awe at how well that went. Hopefully one day, I'll write more on the subject, but to sum it up quickly-I gave birth at home with no drugs in just a little over 8 hours. (Yes, I know- you want to slap me right now, don't you?)

But breastfeeding? Breastfeeding has not invoked the dreamy eyed state of bliss the books all promise. So I was pretty relieved when I came across this article the other day which critically examines this particular facet of motherhood.


Waking my newborn up every two hours when he wanted to sleep, I wanted to sleep, and my body was still recovering from giving birth...well, for lack of a better word- IT SUCKED. Constantly considering my wardrobe and destinations in terms of the ease at which I can whip out my boob, in the middle of winter no less- not so dreamy. Seven weeks later, and I still can't figure out how to breastfeed on my left breast as easily as my right. And then there is just the lack of general mobility...

Yes, I have spent countless hours staring into the eyes of my beautiful babe as he fed. But I've also spent many of those hours thinking, "Seriously dude?! Aren't you done yet?!" And lecturing him that I was not a walking pacifier, and that if he wasn't going to eat, he needed to let the boobie go! He's already learned to ignore my lectures.

The best thing to do, isn't always the easiest-I know this. And ideologically speaking, it's terrible for me to think of buying a manufactured mix to give my kid when my body can already produce it. And I'm actually really in awe how amazing it is that my body is capable of producing all of the sustenance he needs at this point in his life. Seriously, that's some kind of magic.

But I miss feeling like my body was MINE. And it's intense feeling so responsible for someone's every meal, comfort and bowel movement. The first time the baby went without pooping for a few days, I was riddled with guilt as if I had eaten (or neglected to eat something) that reduced the efficacy of my milk.

But perhaps the worst part of breastfeeding, in my opinion, has been it's impact on the parenting dynamic between me and my partner. Rosin's article addresses that quite well. Going out for even a few brief hours has meant preplanning so that, in between already frequent feedings, I can pump more milk for his Dad to have on hand while I'm out. It limits G's bonding time with the baby, means I'm the one up with him whenever he wakes in the night, and that he is quickly handed back to me when in need of comfort (read: a boobie). And because I am part of the great American dream, my excessive debts mean I have to return to work next week, so I've been frantically squirreling away every drop of milk I can lest my poor kid starve while I'm at work.

This is a passing phase, I know this. But it's still really effin hard, and not enough people acknowledge that! And our society, for sure, does not account for the time and energy needed to provide this type of care to our children (much like many other aspects of family it doesn't account for either).

We just recently decided that perhaps occasionally we will give the baby some formula if I can't store enough, or if G needs to feed the baby while I'm out or need a rest. Plenty of folks do that. And I should feel relieved in that decision. I want to feel relieved. But I don't. I feel guilty and have in some ways upped my pumping efforts because it still feels like I'm giving my baby crap because I'm being lazy or selfish in some way. Even on the sample formula can we have in the house, it says "Breastfed is Best" for Pete's sake!!

I'm realizing that this is just the first in a long line of situations to come in which as a conscious, feminist mother living in a consumerist, privileged and individualist society- I'm going to feel torn. Like I have to have/do/be "it all". Like nothing I do is going to be ideal, or good enough. These are the battles of motherhood, I suppose. And breastfeeding feels like the first battle that I'm not going to feel like I'm winning no matter what I do.

1 comment:

Miss Megs said...

This was SO well written. I love you!