I don’t love breastfeeding.
I said it.
At least, not in its entirety.
I’m not obsessed with it, nor do I get the feeling, that by doing it, I am experiencing a far closer bond with Rosie than what I did with Liv.
Does this make me a bad breastfeeding mother?
In a world full of mums who absolutely rave about breastfeeding, and quite rightly so, i never really see or hear of mums who find it ‘just ok‘ – as if it’s abnormal to not love it 24/7 or have days when you feel like just packing it all in.
You see, it takes a certain amount of perseverance to breastfeed for most. In the newborn bubble, those first few days of painful feeds, followed by the first few weeks of constant, unpredictable cluster feeds – to get through it, it takes a great deal of willingness and want, in order to not just give up and switch to ‘the easy option.’
I’ve always wanted to breastfeed.
It’s always been driven home, the importance of it throughout both my pregnancies – midwives, doctors, the media etc, but I’ve had a lot of friends with babies who have either chosen to, or had to formula feed. My own mum formula fed both my sister and i, as did my mother in law with her three, so theres never been that ‘pressure’ externally, for me to breastfeed. I dont know where the desire for me to do it has come from, nor why its been so intense but when my journey with Liv was cut short after 10 weeks due to reflux issues and poor weight gain, I shrugged it off to other people as ‘one of those things‘ but internally, I gave myself a really hard time. I think it only emphasised how much I wanted it even more, and how much of a ‘failure’ I felt that I couldn’t with her. Having battled with myself over it, and my husband feeling ‘helpless’ as he described it, promises were made that I wouldn’t give myself such a hard time if second time around, it never worked out. So, the sense of achievement I felt when rosie latched on well, and gained weight throughout, was unmatched by most other things – it felt amazing knowing that I was responsible for her thriving and that by ‘succeeding’ with one of my daughters, I clearly wasn’t fully at fault with Livs feeding journey.
So, with all that in mind, why don’t I love it?!
I guess it’s easy for me to speak about the things I find tough when I’m in the midst of it all. I’m sitting here, early morning, feeling like I need a gallon of coffee, after the umpteenth wake up call (thanks leap 4) for boob. Spending the night getting up with the baby, followed by an early morning wake up call from the toddler, knowing fine well you won’t get a nap during the day to make up for the lack of sleep, can make the days feel such a struggle. Knowing that your other half can’t even help out by taking the night feeds, can make it feel even more overwhelming. Yes, if you’re lucky, your little one will take to a bottle, but in those early weeks when your milk supply is most abundant and rich in the night, it’s advised not to miss them.
I am bone tired right now.
Exhaustion leads you to question every yourself –
‘Is she getting enough from me?’
‘Is she unsettled because I’ve ate something she’s not agreed with?!’
‘Would she be sleeping through if she was on formula?’
Yet somehow, even in the dead of night, when you’re saying silent prayers that your baby will sleep for longer than what feels like 5minutes, all it takes is for them to glance up at you with those sleepy, milk-drunk eyes, and all feels right with the world. The doubts and insecurities float away and you realise you’re actually doing ok at this. All they want is food, comfort and security from you, so of course you’re there for it. I’ve never felt a feeling quite like it, and if I could bottle it and sell it, I’m sure I’d make a fortune.
Often, I feel utterly overwhelmed at the fact it’s me, and only me, that’s responsible for her nourishment, day and night.
I regularly feel ‘touched out’ by the evenings.
If it’s not for the toddler climbing all over me all day, following me around the house, watching as I pee/shower/eat, then it’s the baby wanting fed and then held, sometimes rocked to sleep. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of it is wonderful, and nothing can beat those baby cuddles, but some days, when it’s been particularly intense, I just feel ‘touched out.’ I just need left alone, in a quiet room, with my body to myself.
The frustration, exhaustion and guilt all just hit and I’m pulled between wanting to quit on the regular to wanting to persevere as I’ve come so far and when it’s going well, it’s the most amazing thing in the world. Spurring myself on to get to ‘one month/six weeks/three months…. And when the goal is met, suddenly not being anywhere near ready to give up. Its a continuous, internal battle I have with myself, of which my feelings and opinions switch day-to-day.
But then, that’s the beauty of breastfeeding, or having a baby in general actually – every day is a new day, different to the last. One day can go like clockwork, feeding like a dream, napping well and generally happy and content in between, the next an absolute nightmare, leaving you tearing your hair out and pouring a gin all before 5pm – yet even on those days, the most stressful of days, when you just need a minute for some peace – breastfeeding forces that on you; forces you to sit down, slow down and take a moment of calm in an otherwise chaotic ‘mum of two’ life. ‘
I LOVE the fact I’ve almost got to 4 months of exclusively breastfeeding. I LOVE the fact that I’m continuing to solely nourish her from my body even outside the womb. I LOVE the fact that she’s taking all the goodness out of my body, the nutrients, the antibodies, the vitamins.
There is SO much I love about breastfeeding.
But yet, I also can’t WAIT to feel like I have my body back to myself. The time where I feel like I have a bit more freedom to nip out when I want. The time where I feel like I can eat the diet I’ve been depriving myself of (helllooo dairy and caffeine) and have more than a couple of wines.
The time where I might start to feel a bit more like ME again.
As soon as that time comes, I know I’ll be balling my eyes out at the fact I won’t feel as ‘needed’ as before, and all the things I love about it will become glaringly obvious the moment its gone.
I guess thats the magic of breastfeeding, right?!