Like most mothers-to-be, I had all of these highfalutin ideas about what I was and was not going to do when my little bundle of joy was born. I swore I was going to have a natural birth (which I did, but not because I hadn’t changed my mind by the time I was being wheeled through the emergency room doors, trust me).
I contemplated the exclusive usage of cloth diapers until my grandmother, who had raised five kids on those bad boys, hipped me to the kind of commitment I was setting myself up for. And I was adamant that I was going to breastfeed my daughter the way Mother Nature intended because I had educated myself on all of the health benefits and all of the magical mother-baby bonding time that was supposed to go down.
We would be just like something off of a Gerber commercial, me and my little girl. Gazing at each other over the swell of my breast, just exchanging love glances as my body nurtured hers. There was a hitch in the plan, though. I discovered that I hated breastfeeding.
We didn’t necessarily get off to a good start. After a super short delivery that probably lasted no more than 15 minutes, 20 tops, the nurse tossed her onto my chest and shoved my breast into Brand New Girl Child’s mouth. Getting started right there on the spot would help with the bonding process, she said, and even though baby wasn’t necessarily hungry, she was going to have to get the hang of latching. So for the next two days, I had my twins out more than a tipsy undergrad on Bourbon Street.
Sometimes I wouldn’t even be fully awake and there was a nurse, jostling my hospital gown open because—guess what?—it was time to feed the baby. And once again, there was my mammary hanging out in the wide open air, as she instructed me and manhandled my parts into proper position. It took some getting used to, even when the baby managed to latch and I managed to guide the process to the nurse’s liking. But I never felt the euphoric harps and violins I was expecting.
First of all, it hurt like all get out, particularly because my chest was already incredibly sore. The touch, the feel of cotton was enough to make me peel out of my shirts and cry for mercy; a stiff wind or even a light spray of shower water might as well have been the jagged teeth of a saw gnawing through my skin. I couldn’t lay on them because they were like rocks. So factor in a tiny but aggressive infant who ate roughly 250 times a day and it was all too much for my poor breasts to bear. They chafed and irritated, they cracked and bled.
But it all came to a head in the wee hours of the morning when she woke up to nurse. I was just barely awake enough to pull one side of the feeding factory out of my tank top—I’d been given up on wearing T-shirts because I figured why bother?—but after a few short moments, she was snorting with agitation. Perplexed, I moved her to the other side. Still nothing. I massaged. I pushed. I squeezed. I was out of milk. I had nothing left to give. One day, I was so gorged I couldn’t even let oxygen touch my chest and days later, I was out. Just like that.
I still haven’t figured out why it happened. Up until that point, I’d pumped so I could go to school during the day, but in the evenings when I got home, I fed her from the breast. But I gotta say: I wasn’t too heartbroken about whatever it was that made us have to completely convert to the bottle. Breastfeeding was like one of those things I felt like I was supposed to be wowed by that ended up being more of a going-through-the-motions activity. Maybe Skylar is healthier for it. Who knows?
I applaud all the other moms out there who rocked out the breastfeeding years, though the ones who let their kids continue to sip from the nip when they’re like 5 freak me out. But it just wasn’t for me. If I have another kid, I'm not so sure I'd sign up to try it again, either. There I said it. Glad I got that off my chest (among other things).
How did you make the decision to do breast or bottle?
Image via Raphael Goetter/Flickr