Warning: incoming rant
It’s been a while since I brought up the topic of breastfeeding; it even stirred up some interesting comments on one post. Ironically, I rarely bring up this topic, yet I’m forced to discuss it on almost a constant basis.
I kid you not, on average I’m asked at least once a week by someone if I am either currently breastfeeding, or if I did. Sometimes I’m asked if I tried and their tone makes me want to fall through a crack in the floor. It’s even more mortifying if there is more than one person around so that multiple people get to hear me stammer through an answer.
Most people don’t mean anything by their questions, but it’s exhausting after a while. Whenever I have to tell someone that I’m not breastfeeding or explain that I couldn’t for very long, I end up going to a long explanation about how I tried really hard, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I feel pathetic. I feel guilty. I feel broken. I feel like I did something wrong. I feel like I didn’t try hard enough. I feel like a crappy mom. And all of those feelings are silly. I know that.
I’m a huge supporter of breastfeeding; I always have been. Long before getting pregnant, I assumed that I would breastfeed my first child and any children thereafter. There was never a question of if I would breast feed, but when I would. It was a natural assumption – OK, we’re going to buy a car seat for our baby, we’ll get a crib, oh and of course I’ll breastfeed, duh. I even wrote a guest post for Baby Friendly NL’s blog.
After trying for weeks, the writing was on the wall – I had very little supply and there was no hind milk to be found. I was even told so by two of the lactation consultants at the Health Sciences Centre and my family doctor (who’s opinion I really value).
Whether it was from direct breastfeeding or pumping (and pumping on the highest setting of the big industrial rental pump), there was barely an ounce at a time. When Missy Moo did feed, she’d scream with hunger an hour later. Then we both cried. I cried a lot. Post-prego horomones tend to do that at the best of time.
TMI/oversharing – I drank enough water that I was peeing clear. I ate really healthy and consumed everything the Internet suggested. I had a beer a day to try and encourage milk flow. I drank so much fenugreek tea that the mere thought of it almost makes me urge now.
Whether or not someone is judging, it’s hard not to feel like at least someone is. So the next time you want to ask someone whether or not if they’re breastfeeding, DON’T! Try to think of a different way of asking. Maybe ask about what the baby’s appetite is like. Or maybe ask about how often the baby is eating. Either way, let the mom provide details if they choose to do so.
So if you’re someone who can breastfeed and that’s what you did, are doing, or will do, I applaud you; standing ovation with me smiling from ear to ear. I’m envious of you, even a little jealous. You’re an awesome mom.
If you chose not to breastfeed, or if it was decided for you, then I hope you know that you’re an awesome mom too; you don’t love your baby any less.
I hope I don’t sound bitter or angry. I’m honestly not. I was thrilled to see the I believe in you movement that encouraged moms to celebrate each other, no matter what their parenting style and choices tend to be. I think it’s something we all forget at one point or another.
And to give you a giggle, enjoy this Babble.com post about a Formula Fed Baby Enters Medical School (Satire). I enjoyed reading it last week. It was a fun way of poking at how society can make people feel sometimes.
EDIT: I should add that my husband, family and many friends have been nothing but supportive. That’s what you need as a new mom or a mom who had been doing this whole parenting thing for years – support. You have no idea how important it is until you need it the most.
Disclaimer: This post was not intended to be a pity party for me. I’m not looking for people to try and make me feel good or to pat me on the back or head. I just really needed to get this off of my chest. I’ve actually be in fine form about the feeding decisions made for our daughter. I’ll even chat about breastfeeding; it’s not an off limits topic for me at all. I’m just tired of being questioned and grilled about what happened for me. It wasn’t a choice, but a reality. I feel like I didn’t really get to choose, so it’s hard to smile when someone asked me why didn’t I choose to breastfeed…