Wednesday, July 15, 2015

an open letter to the mom who doesn't like breastfeeding

You are not alone.

I know you feel alone. Everywhere you look, there are all of these happy, smiling moms nursing their babies and talking about how "breast is best." They all say how wonderful breastfeeding is, how it creates such a bond with their babies, how it is their favorite time of the day.

And then there's you.

You feel like an outsider. Like the broken one. Like the bad mom who must not love her baby as much as those other moms love their babies.

But those moms? Those moms are not the only moms out there. There are moms out there just like you.

Moms who cringe with toe-curling pain every time their babies latch. Or moms who just want to sleep and let someone else feed the baby for once. Or the moms who hate dealing with the hurtles that come with nursing in public.

There are moms out there who, just like you, just don't get how it's so gosh-dang amazing. Moms who feel guilty because they don't just adore having a tiny human sucking on them 6-12 times a day. Moms who hang their heads and cry because they just want to quit.

You are so, so, so not alone.

I've been there. Heck, I AM there. Currently still breastfeeding my eight-month-old, and even though I'm loving the stage he's in I'm secretly counting down until his first birthday when I can be done breastfeeding and I can keep my shirt on for more than six hours at a time.

I've felt guilty about it just like you. Had people tell me how lucky I am that I can make enough milk for my child. I've looked at the moms who just wish they could breastfeed their babies, and felt like the most ungrateful person in the world because I can and yet don't want to sometimes. And I, like you, have wondered what kind of horrible mom I am.

Now that my baby is older and breastfeeding has become so much easier than it used to be, it's easier to not hate it. But when my baby was new and everything was so hard? Sometimes I don't know how I made it through.

I remember the months of 90-minute-long feeds every three hours and the never-ending state of being overwhelmed because no one but me could feed him. I remember cringing and crying in pain while I waited for my nipples to get used to the abuse. I remember resenting my rocking chair and dreading the next feed. I remember breaking down sobbing once when my husband said, "I think he's hungry," and I just didn't have it in me emotionally to do it again. I remember how I thought about quitting every single day.

And now, eight months in, it's gotten so much easier than it was back then. He feeds in 15 minutes and only 5 or 6 times a day. I can't remember the last time it hurt. He sleeps through the night most nights. It's a downright pleasant experience.

And yet I still do not love it the way I always thought I was supposed to.

But now it's easier for me to see that whether or not I like breastfeeding says nothing about my quality as a mother. Just because I'm not frolicking in fields with my baby in a nursing sling suckling sweetly at my nipple does not mean that I am the world's worst mom. Just because I don't jump with joy when my baby starts smacking his lips and clawing at my shirt doesn't mean I am a failure. I am not a bad mother.

And you aren't either.

Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, you are a good mom. You are a wonderful mom.

Stop beating yourself up. It's okay to not like breastfeeding.

The number one thing I've learned over the past eight months: it's different for every single mother. Don't hate yourself because things didn't turn out exactly the way you imagined. You are a superhero.

Liked this post? Check out the letter I wrote to my c-section scar here or the letter to my pre-childbirth self  here. You can also read about the seven things I still suck at after seven months of motherhood or you can check out my own experience surviving a puppp rash.

1 comment:

  1. So much yes in this! Wonderful post. Thanks for the encouragement!


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