I’m just going to go ahead and say it – I don’t like breastfeeding.
Whenever you see moms nursing their babies on TV or in movies, and even in real life, it looks so effortless. What we don’t ever see until we are in it is what happens behind closed doors in those first days, weeks, and sometimes months.
For me, the first days of breastfeeding are a struggle to find our rhythm. The first weeks are filled with cluster feeding, pain, tears (from both of us), and praying that I make enough milk. And the first months are spent with me yearning for some structure and predictability.
With my first baby, I spent the first few weeks trying to nurse, then pumping, then giving a supplemental bottle. This happened at every. single. feeding. Which happened every 2-3 hours, meaning I had approximately 45 minutes of time between each feeding to do all the things. Honestly, it got easier when I went back to work because all I had to do was pump, which of course made me feel guilty. I never made enough milk and we supplemented the whole time, but we made it to 9 months of her getting at least some breastmilk every day.
This week, I switched to formula with my second baby after starting out breastfeeding.
He is 3-months-old and I probably should have let go way before now. I spent my pregnancy saying, “If it’s meant to be, it will be. Otherwise, there is always formula. I’m not doing what I did last time.” Well, after he was born, I did what I did last time. Every time I thought about pulling the plug, I was overwhelmed with guilt. I could hear the voices of thousands echoing in my head, “The health benefits for mom and baby are unmatched,” “You and your baby create a special bond,” “It’s such a beautiful thing.” All of that may be true (for some), but instead, our days were filled with a fussy, frustrated baby.
My anxiety started building immediately following each feeding and peaked right before the next because I knew the whole thing would be a struggle. Each feeding ended in exhaustion, and sometimes tears (again, from both of us). So, it was time. I gave in and sure, I gave up.
Except, I didn’t give up. I did exactly what my baby and I both needed. Do you want to know how I know that? For the first time in his three months of life, he made eye contact with me the entire time he was eating and when he had finished sucking down that last gulp of formula, he smiled at me.