I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile now. Pretty much every time I sat down with a baby or machine that took nourishment from my being, I scowled and huffed and thought “my lamb, I can’t wait until this is over and I can whine about it.” Yes dear friends, breastfeeding has been the bane of my existence for the last six months, but praise be, it’s over!!!
My body was not good at producing milk from the start. In the hospital, the nurses forced us to feed Eggroll with formula because she lost too much weight and mama, you’re not doing good enough*. Thank goodness, they did though because it taught her to eat from a bottle right from the start. This meant I fed her straight from me for the majority of the day, but then pumped for her last bottle at night, which Randy gave her.
Still, a couple weeks into it, she wasn’t growing appropriately, so I had to pay $150 to have a stranger come feel me up and show me how to best ram a boob into Eggroll’s face. Neither of us enjoyed this experience, perhaps both leaving in tears, but she did eat better for a little while.
In addition to trying to feed Malorie, the lactation consultant (see also: jobs that our parents can’t believe exist), had me pump after each feeding in an effort to produce more milk. So after 30 minutes of holding a (albeit very lightweight) baby at an odd angle that would make my shoulder ache and my fingers fall asleep, I had to put said baby in a bouncy seat which I “rocked” with one foot while holding the two breast pump containers to my chest with one hand, documented the feeding on a phone app with the other, and tried not to let my back cramp up due to the odd angle required to make the pump and gravity do their work. Lather, rinse, repeat at least 6 times a day. Thank God Randy never brought home company during all that. That would have been an embarrassing way to meet the boss.
Anyway, we continued to go to the doctor to check Eggroll’s weight and we continued to get bad reports. “Mama, you’ve got to do better!” I’d come home, beat myself up a little more and then wonder why the next feeding would be even worse. Finally, I said screw it and added in some formula to the mix.
And guess what, Malorie loved it. She gained weight. She didn’t have to work as hard. She didn’t have a ramrod straight forearm going down her back and a mama who was grimacing. No, mama could sit back and just watch and ENJOY the experience with baby, just like dad had been doing from the start.
I love being a mom, I really do. But I did not like being pregnant. And if there was anything that frustrated me more than Eggroll’s delivery, it is breastfeeding. That had to be the single most disheartening experience of being a mom so far. There is no possible way to do it right.
Maybe your body doesn’t produce enough and you think you suck. Maybe your baby can’t latch on and you think they are developmentally off. Maybe your boobs hurt or the machine breaks or you piss off the husband when you run out of space for pizza because the freezer is stocked with pumped milk. Maybe you breastfeed your baby past a year and everyone thinks you’re a weirdo. Maybe you quit at five months, 3 weeks and a day and you feel like a failure because you didn’t make it to your goal of six months. There is literally no way to do it without someone (usually yourself) questioning your parenting skills and your ability to be a good mama.
Who needs that nonsense with all the other angst that comes with being a new parent?! Bah. I wash my hands of you, breastfeeding. I gladly hang up the pumps and the nursing tanks and the cover-ups that never really covered.
Fifteen months after this all started, I finally have my body back. I am no longer housing a child. I am no longer feeding a child. I don’t have to worry about sushi or cold cuts or red wine or peppermint oil. I belong to me.
Well, until next time…
* This might not how the story truly went, but these are my memoirs, dammit.