Monday, April 27, 2009

Breastfeeding: The End of an Era

Lately I've been thinking that being a mom isn't the best. I shouldn't be thinking that being a mom isn't 100% awesome -- at least not until Paloma is a teenager and she's bringing home guys with piercings in new and imaginative places! I know that day will someday come, so shouldn't I at least get to enjoy my daughter when she's a wee one? I mean, shouldn't I?

"That's quite enough Easter, thankyouverymuch"

You see, I'd really like to have these sweet precious moments with my baby that I hear you're supposed to have... I really want those memories to look back on when Paloma is bringing home the mouthbreathing high school boys with more zits than I've got hang-ups. I don't want to spend my days dreading upcoming feeding times, worrying about whether the baby is hungry, trying to cajole her back onto the breast while she's wailing because, damn it, that's obviously not what she wants, and cursing myself for just not being able to get it right. Hey, what can I say, I'm a problem solver and a perfectionist.

Gosh, you're all thinking, what a boring old story... won't she ever write about anything else?

I hear you loud and clear! I'd love to spend oodles of bandwidth gushing about Paloma's sweet little dimple or how she's finally starting to get really interested in the world, but I just can't. You see, I'm too darn busy phoning up lactation consultants and LLL leaders trying to, what, force my baby to eat in a way she doesn't want to eat? How the heck would you like it if someone came to you and said "No forks and knives from now on -- it's chopsticks only, even for soup, and if you can't get enough soup with chopsticks to satisfy you, too darned bad." I'm going to guess you wouldn't like it very much!

Really. To put it another way, my mom said that if Paloma and I lived in the woods, with no technology, we'd be able to breastfeed. The fact that the statement is erroneous aside (babies have died from failure to thrive) , we don't live in the woods. If we did live in the woods, then I guess we'd struggle and struggle and struggle. But like I said, we don't. Bottles exist. Breast pumps exist. Heck, you can buy a box of 150 disposable nipples ready to rock on eBay. This is truly the future! Give me my flying car!

Wait, where was I? Oh, right. Some people might not agree with my stance, but I want my daughter's life to be as easy as possible. I want her to be so beautiful that things are handed to her. I want her to be so smart that she can do anything she wants to do. I want her to be so nice that everyone adores her. And right now, I want her to enjoy being with me, mealtimes or not. While feeding from the breast is arguably good for development, not watching me bawl my eyes out while she pulls away from the breast and wails (LC1: "She's getting too much milk!" LC2: "She's not getting enough milk!") six times a day will probably also be good for Paloma's development.

This hasn't been easy. Far from it, in fact. Coming to a decision has been impossible. Oh, she'll kind of nurse, so I should keep nursing, right? Breast is best! We won't bond without breastfeeding. We'll be missing out on some kind of mystical heavenly experience involving titties and euphoria! Breastfeeding prevents SIDS! Breastfeeding will keep Paloma from needing braces! Breastfeeding is like pizza, sex, and sliced bread all rolled into one, amirite?

Look, I have all the respect in the world for lactation consultants and La Leche League leaders and everyone else who has devoted their lives to encouraging women to breastfeed. Breast milk is indeed awesome. But can we be realistic here for a moment? Some moms can't breastfeed. Some moms don't want to breastfeed. Some babies can't breastfeed. And some babies won't breastfeed!

People toss around the slogan "breast is best," and while breast milk may be what babies thrive on, I personally think that feeding your baby in a relatively stress free way is best.

Or, like my dad once said after watching me attempt to nurse before bursting into tears for the third time in a day: "Maybe she just wants a bottle."

Maybe, dad. Mayyyyybe.

(Which isn't to say I'm not mourning for the reality that never was, but honestly, I've thrown 10 weeks of time, effort, research, and money into the breastfeeding thing, and what Paloma needs is a happy, loving mommy, not a titty. Also, this post made me happy. Yours truly isn't alone!)


  1. Nope not alone. Congratulations on your wonderful effort and welcome to your new parenting world!

  2. good for you! I lasted all of 10 days with the breastfeeding thing, and my son is perfectly healthy. (Well, he'll have issues with his teeth, but not because of the lack of breast milk.)

  3. Dude, srsly. The "breast is best" campaign is lovely. It's also heavy-handed and high-horsed. Our lactation consultant put it like this: if you want this to be your battle, I'll help you fight it tooth and nail. But if you'd rather save your strength for separation anxiety, sleep training, potty training, or even the terrible threes, I not only understand but I support you.

    As for your mama, well, back in the day, they had WET NURSES, too.

    Motherhood should be a wonderful, self-affirming experience. So, yeah, drop the "shoulda wouldas" and enjoy that beautiful baby girl any way she wants to be enjoyed.

  4. Mother (YOU not grandmother) knows best. Really.

    I agree that sometimes the cost of the struggle is just too high and mother is the one to decide when/if this is true.

    Pumping and bottle feeding when breastfeeding just isn't working is a wonderful gift to the baby.

  5. Audrey: Last night, I fed Paloma from the bottle, then we cuddled some. No crying, no battles. I feel like I have 10 weeks of tension to make up for now.

    JRM: I know plenty of people who got the boob and have teeth issues, and plenty of people who didn't get the boob who have awesome choppers, so I guess we'll just wait and see. Of course, the hub has terrrrrible teeth, so she may just be doomed anyway.

    sun-doth-burn: Wow, I never met any LCs so opne-minded! That's rad. Honestly, I would have kept trying, but I feel like I exhausted my options. I'd try calling (and even paying!) new experts, and they'd just say the same old things...

    momomom: You should know it was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. In fact, I'm still questioning myself. But I almost feel like I missed out on really loving Paloma and getting to know her in these past 10 weeks, which really strengthens my resolve. She needs a mommy who can connect with her emotionally.

  6. your mom, I would like to say in my own defense that was only one of many things I said.
    Most of all of my other comments had to do with supporting you in whatever works for you and Dovey.

    At the end of the day, no one can decide what works for you, but the 3 of you, and I continue to support that, and that alone.


  7. Aw, mom, I didn't mean to imply that's all you said! Just that it was a good lead in for the other statement!



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