I can't believe I've gone my entire mommy-blogging life without discussing one of the most touchy topics of all. They say that opinions are like assholes - everyone has one. And when it comes to talking about breastfeeding, this is certainly true. Should women breastfeed in public? Will a formula-fed baby have a lower IQ? Should a two year old still be breastfeeding? And on and on and on, ad nauseum.
Yes, I have opinions and personal beliefs. I believe every mother should breastfeed, unless they are physically unable to do so. I believe that breastfeeding for the first year of life is sufficient, as I think it is kind of creepy to see a toddler sucking on a boob. I also believe that breastfeeding, particularly the first two months of it, is the most difficult thing for a new mother to endure, in terms of mental and emotional stress. And I believe that my breastfeeding stress was a main contributor to my post partum depression / baby blues.
I am VERY thankful that my body was able to do what it was designed to do. I had very little nipple pain, almost zero leakage, and an ample milk supply. But still, in the beginning, OMGTHETORTURE. What? You just spent thirty minutes on my boobs, followed by another twenty minutes - you CANNOT be rooting on your father's face AGAIN. Seriously kid? OMG I'M GONNA THROW YOU OUT THE WINDOW. Yeah, that was me for a good solid month. Being strapped to the couch or the rocker, on constant boob duty, I was miserable. But never once did the thought of quitting cross my mind. For me, that's not an option. As a mother, the one and only thing I'm 100% responsible for is to feed the tiny human. I didn't choose this, evolution did. And my boobs worked, so no, quitting was never an option. That being said - every woman must do what is best for them and their baby. I will never think less of any mother that decides breastfeeding is not going to work for her. Happy mom and happy baby is really, really important and if feeding formula makes everyone happier, then go for it. Maybe I should have quit, maybe my PPD wouldn't have been so severe. But I already felt so guilty for not being totally in love with my newborn, I don't think I could have also handled the guilt of choosing not to do what my body was designed to do.
We started incorporating formula into Addy's diet at the end of February - when she was almost four months old. I was very reluctant to do this, but my supply was slowly decreasing, and Matt really wanted me to be able to leave the house without worrying about pumping enough milk to replace what he used. He wanted to alleviate some of my burden, and he pushed and pushed until I finally gave in. For a couple months, the only formula she ate was at bedtime, and I continued to breastfeed the rest of the time. When she started sleeping through the night, my supply took a nosedive in response to the decreased demand. At this point, I am breastfeeding only once a day - when she wakes up in the morning. She is barely getting anything, so I feed her some fruit and a bottle about an hour later. The breastfeeding session is extremely annoying and rather painful because her attention span is really short, and she prefers to look around the room instead of eat. So she'll be sucking away, then all of a sudden whip her head to the other side, but she doesn't let go. FREAKING OUCH. And now that she's teething? Yeah, apparently it feels good to kinda chew on me.
So...my first blog post about breastfeeding is also most likely my last. I've decided to quit cold turkey. When she wakes up tomorrow, she's getting a bottle. Truly, honestly, this makes me very sad. There are actually little tears forming as I type this and make it true. Breastfeeding, to me, is such a huge part of my identity as a mother - as her mother - because no one else can breastfeed her. Anyone can play with her, change her diaper, give her a bath, comfort her if she's sick. But the bond that comes from breastfeeding? That can't be duplicated. I'm going to miss her little hand reaching up to touch my face. I'm going to miss her sneaky little smile she gives, pausing to smile, then going right back to eating. I'm going to miss just being able to sit back and watch her, to study her face and watch her twisting her feet around. Okay, seriously, now the tears are flowing.
You might see a post from me tomorrow saying I couldn't give it up.