Many women will vividly remember the day they decided to give up the battle of breastfeeding/pumping in the effort to start enjoying time with their baby – as oppose to the pump. To even call it ’emotional’ is a complete understatement of the entire experience. Failure is certainly not an appropriate word, however it is the only word that broadcasts across the mother’s mind.
I can recall the day very clearly. After sobbing, feeling broken and like a failure at my inability to provide something that was supposed to be ‘natural’ for my son, with my husband by my side, I decided to switch to formula.
For those who have never had a child, I realize the above topic might be hard to comprehend or easy to feel ostracized from, but to truly understand it is vital to have gone through it.
Before my son was born, I decided that I would be attempting to breast feed, and if that failed, to pump breast milk for him. I knew that breast milk was better and that formula was expensive. So those two huge factors worked well together in my early decision to breast feed.
Post birth many factors arose that were out of my control. One, that my son would hate my boobs. Now I know professionals say that is not a factor and that a baby does not choose to not like something at only hours old – but they didn’t birth my son or sit in my body during my early breastfeeding experiences. My son made it clear from day one that boobs weren’t his first choice, despite countless hours, attempts, cry fests and battles to get him to see things “my” way. My under-educated, biased way. So I sought help from consultants, doctors, friends who are mothers, the internet, devices and online forums. Nothing helped. So I started the tedious journey of pumping after each failed attempt to breastfeed. Sadly, I cannot recall a lot of great early memories with my son as I spent so much time trying to do what was “expected and right.” But by whom?
What is right for one and successful for one, is not going to be the same for another. It took me hundreds of times saying this to convince myself of its’ truth.
At the end of my rope and emotional failure of breastfeeding/pumping, I had a conversation with my sister. She has no children and has not breastfed before. However she is deeply immersed in that setting because of her profession as a NICU nurse. She witnesses the ups and downs and failures and successes of breastfeeding every time she walks into work. She told me the best thing that I could possibly hear: Not being able to breastfeed isn’t a failure, however spending every waking moment pumping to fill in a “stereotype” of what a successful mother is, is a failure. She said I was not living. And she was right. The next day I bought formula and pumped half the time. Over a period of a month I made the complete switch to formula.
And I have never looked back.
My son is healthy, strong, growing rapidly and showing all signs of hitting the appropriate developmental age markers. He is happy. Which means that I am happy.
Would it have been cheaper to stick with breastfeeding/pumping: of course. Would it have been ‘healthier’ for me: No. Almost all of the time, baby comes first. However I made my baby, I have to take care of my baby and provide for my baby; so in this area I needed to come first.
So to all you moms out there feeling like a ‘failure’ shake your head and realize that you CREATED the baby in your arms and that feeding it “properly” is small in comparison to the journey you went through to bring your child into this world.
Hug your baby, not your breast pump.