Boob v. Bottle (and the unexpected victor)
Before I gave birth to Georgia, I set an unrealistic goal for breastfeeding. Not unrealistic in the way that I’d never reach it, but in the way that I had no idea how I would actually feel about it once I was doing it. And I think I actually expected to not follow through with it. Well, this is all premature because I haven’t hit the goal yet, but I think, in my mind, I expected to quit this shit early on.
I didn’t think I’d be a breastfeeder.
In the beginning, the reality confirmed my thoughts. It hurt like mother-loving hell. I was making more than enough milk and G was latching just fine, but it was just so so so painful that it was absolutely unpleasant to nurse. I sought the advice of a lactation consultant, who said that something about G’s mouth was shaped so that it would hurt while she nursed. This was something she would grow out of, but it could take months.
After a few weeks, I just said screw it and started pumping exclusively. But I quickly discovered how difficult that is when you have a child who doesn’t like to nap for more than 20 minutes at a time. By the time I’d settled myself in to pump out some stuff, baby girl was up again. I kept skipping pumpings. Eventually my supply reflected it. I freaked out. I started supplementing with formula, then with more formula. Then it became half of the feedings per day were formula, the other pumped milk.
**disclaimer** I am in NO WAY judging what anyone has done, breastfeeding, pumping, formula feeding, etc. Every woman is different and does what works for her and I applaud each and every one of them, because this shit is haaaaard. **end disclaimer**
I started to feel really sad about giving her formula. Not because I think formula’s bad…I believe it is a great alternative to breastfeeding. I guess I felt guilty because I was capable of giving her my own milk. My supply had dwindled, but it had also adjusted to what she was drinking, so I was still making enough. And I’ll tell ya, the world makes it so you really do feel guilty if you choose formula. “Breast is best” is on the freaking label of the formula itself! I mean…not the most supportive thing to read as you mix the powder. I still find that unfair and kinda shitty.
On the flip side of that coin, I had my mother, a non-breastfeeder who gets super pissed off at the guilt trip played on women who choose not to nurse, yelling at me that it was MY CHOICE if I wanted to use formula and DON’T FEEL GUILTY and DO WHAT I WANT!!! And it almost made me feel guilty that I wanted to continue to breastfeed.
Suffice it to say, I had it coming from both ends and thus was trying to find some middle ground. That was a pumping/nursing/formula combination. It worked for….hmmm….about a week.
The frustration continued. Most of my bad days were centered around this balance, or lack thereof, and I felt like an awful mother…like I could just not get it together at all.
So as the last almost two weeks have worn on, I’ve come to a surprising situation. In an effort to ramp up my supply (we have a wedding out of state in a few weeks and we’re leaving G with my in-laws, thus necessitating a freezer-full of feedings), I’ve fallen into nursing more. And lo, it no longer hurts. And I actually like it.
Honestly? I kind of love it.
That is an outcome I truly never thought would happen. And I can’t say that I’ll love it for as long as my original, unknowing goal is, but I’ve exceeded my real-life goal by a lot and it feels nice. I couldn’t do natural birth, I couldn’t even do a vaginal birth (OMG I SAID VAGINA I’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO SPEAK TO REPUBLICANS AGAIN)…but I can do this. It’s working for me…for us. I’m enjoying it, and that’s what feels the best.
Who knew these giant things would really be of use!? Quite amazing indeed.