Why I chose NOT to breastfeed.
When someone asks, I tell them I was not the ‘pregnant type’. I did not feel the ‘glow’ and I thought it was weird to have some kind of alien object moving inside my stomach that I could not control. You can see a video I took one day here. I saw my OBGYN a few days ago for my ‘annual woman physical’ (my daughter is 17 months old) and, after asking about marriage life she began to ask, ‘Do you think you guys will want…’ and I immediately interjected with a ‘no’. :) I told her I did not want another baby if I could help it.
Some women say they could carry their baby inside of them for years and it is the best feeling ever. I, on the other hand, wanted to get her out of me and was ready to have her in my arms instead of inside me before 41 weeks was up (I had a scheduled induction date since it seemed she was a happy camper inside of me and did not want to come out). When 39 weeks came along, I was getting so impatient that I was, I think, literally growling at things around me.
Before you go thinking that ‘she must have had a horrible pregnancy’ let me tell you something - my pregnancy was easy (compared to some I have heard/read about). I did not have ANY morning sickness (throwing up), I was carrying heavy objects, painting the nursery, and walking up stairs up until the day I had her, and I was healthy throughout (no blood sugar problems, etc). I did have the normal skin breakouts, slight feet swelling, e.Coli once when I was about 10 weeks along, sleepy, and peeing often. I was shopping at Babies r Us while I was in early labor to pass the time. That’s who I am.
And don’t get me wrong - I think the miracle of life is truly amazing and the fact that I could grow a human being inside of me and push her out is quite amazing. I oftentimes say things like, ‘I’ve had a baby I can do anything’ or ‘it’s nothing like having a baby’. I think mothers are in a special club of ‘awesome’ and are super heroes.
When I had her (after a long labor) at 39 weeks and 5 days I was elated to have her outside of my body and to start gaining control of my entity again. Since she was not breathing correctly, they took her from me immediately so I do not really remember holding her for the few seconds I did. There is a picture (not my prettiest moment), however, so it must have happened. :)
I had purchased a Madela Advanced breast pump, accessories, nipple creme and storage stuff months before she was born and anticipated breast feeding my daughter from day one. I got the nursing pillow as a present at my baby shower. I even went to the ‘parenting’ classes which included a breastfeeding day.
I figured it would be ‘natural’ and ‘fantastic’ like everyone claimed. How very quickly did I realize that it truly is ‘to each her own’. My daughter went to the NICU for about a week so I was pumping every 3 hours (or my chest would burst) and handing the hospital-provided bottles to the nurse for freezing after I wrote my name on them (notice green label). They slowly began letting me hold and feed her using a bottle that was thawed in warm water.
After she started getting ‘better’ and was moved into a crib (this was a big turning point in the NICU), the nurses let me try breastfeeding her. By this time she was used to being fed through tubes and days earlier by a bottle nipple. Nevertheless, I tried to feed this baby that was labled mine but I had yet to feel that ‘connection’. I had been sitting in the NICU around the clock for days watching her vitals go up and down, pumping, forcing myself to eat, worrying, and fighting for tests to be done/not done, but I had not bonded with this little human being. Therefore, I thought breastfeeding might do it. We tried - it was weird - and it hurt oftentimes - and it worked for a few minutes. She would usually lose the latch or form one that was so painful I wanted to remove the leeching little girl. I was told she needed to eat constantly for a certain amount of time in order to get ‘enough food and nutrients’. No pressure right? And she was attached to several cords and tubes which made things interesting.
Here she is in her crib. We called her our little burrito. :)
This went on for a few more times a day for a couple more days. It was not getting better, I was getting frustrated, I was still having to pump (in the designated pumping room) because she was not drinking everything my giant boobs had to offer, she was not drinking enough she would have to supplement with the bottle (thawed breast milk), I saw the pump more than anything and felt like it was becoming another one of my limbs. This was getting depressing and exhausting.
Trust me - we were in a specialized hospital filled with ‘boob nazis’ (lactation consultants), nurses, books, signs, pamphlets, groups, and so much more. Boob is best, la di da, I felt like it was brainwashing. I did have a lactation consultant in several of my ‘feedings’ and she attempted to assist but it was not form, latch, hold, or style help that we needed.
We went home and I continued my relationship with the pump, the storage bottles, and the freezer. I was to the point that I felt like I should just be walking around topless with a pump or baby connected to me. My daughter and I would try breastfeeding when she was hungry but it was more frustrating (because we could both tell it was not what either of us wanted) than it should have been. Therefore, after about a month or so I discussed with the hubby about switching to formula. He had watched me attempt to breastfeed our daughter several times and I think he sensed the frustration so he had told me to do whatever I felt was best. Kudos for the right answer, right? :)
For the record: I also found breastfeeding weird for the following reasons:
- Having something sucking on your chest is weird in itself. I was not comfortable doing this in public let alone sitting on the couch trying to get her to want to do it.
- It is my chest - not a sole source of nutrition and food for another human. How is it normal to have something hanging off your chest all the time sucking the bajesus out of you?
- Your boobs leak - so you have to worry about that and replacing pads in specialty ‘nursing’ bras constantly.
- It usually hurts. If they tell you it does not - they are lying. You may eventually get used to it and the pain subsides slightly but it still hurts.
- Your boobs hurt, they will eventually sag, crack and bleed. These are my boobs - not tools of war.
- It’s expensive - between the pump, the accessories, the cremes, and the storage tools it is insane. Therefore, do not try telling me it’s more cost effective to breastfeed.
- You have to feed or pump every 3 hours to keep up your milk supply and to release what is built up - this was either extremely monotonous, hard to imagine doing at work, or kept me from spending time with my baby.
Therefore, I started mixing Similac formula (eventually settled with Similac sensitive since she was gassy) with the breast milk I had saved in the freezer and switched her over to bottles. You know, kind of like switching a cat or dog from one food to another - you have to mix it and ease them into it. This was easy - and I think it was because she had been eating from the bottle during her first days and because we both knew it was what we wanted. We eventually ended up getting Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow bottles since the other brands we tried my daughter did not seem to appreciate too much (she would be gassy, formula would drool down her chin in waves, or she would choke because the nipple was too fast). I could deal with sanitizing bottles, washing them daily and having them laying out drying on the counter every day. This was a breeze compared to what we were trying before.
I did have three or four days of ‘drying up’ my chest which required constant ice packs, Ibuprofen and resting. I researched the best way to do this online and several websites recommended using cabbage too, but since I had a sulfa allergy, I could not do that. I have not had a problem since then (problem being leaking or explosion of chest) and I finally lost the electronic limb that I was sucking the life out of me every 3-4 hours. I was now able to quickly warm up a bottle for my daughter, snuggle her, let her eat until she was full (and be sure of how much she was eating) and almost best of all - the hubby was able to do it too. I could get some sleep. We could take shifts at night. He could bond with her. (By the way - this was one of the cutest and heart melting images to witness). I finally got to enjoy feeding my daughter and studied her every facial feature.
Friends and family could even feed her (when I was willing to let go):
My boobs shrank - thank goodness - they were like rocks - but at least they’re back to my sense of ‘normal’. This was me when I was still pumping but feeding her using the bottle. The hubby says my boobs were ‘fantastic’ but of course he admits to not understanding what it is like to be a feeding machine.
In the end, after about a month or two, I decided not to breast feed. I fought hard not to let all the pictures of Facebook, or the pamphlets, or the boob nazis, or the people with prejudice know-it-all opinions sway me or make me feel bad/wrong. Not breastfeeding was what worked best for my daughter and I - physically and emotionally - so I am happy with my decision. It is why I tell current mothers-to-be to make their own decision and to back it 100 percent. What you feel is best. As ‘they’ say - mother knows best. Not breast is best. Get that crap out of your head. I am not anti-breastfeeding; I am pro-choose your own method. Your child will be happy, healthy, and full either way (if the method you are using works) so do what makes you comfortable and happy.
I would not trade her for the world… nor my decision. I am proud that we tried and that we both understood (her without using words) that bottle feeding formula would be best. :)