When Potamus was born, I struggled for the first 7 weeks to get breastfeeding down. I had overactive letdown, oversupply, and there’s a picture that will never make it to the internet where my areola was bigger than his face. It was a struggle, including one 8 hour sleeping stint leaving him too weak to nurse, even with the nipple shield, where I was sobbing and spoon feeding milk into his mouth while Boof was on the phone with La Leche league. Rough.
And then, when I went back to work, he reverse cycled. And until he self-weaned the night before he turned two, I nursed him all.night.long. It was rough. But I enjoyed it, for the most part. It was what made me a MOM, and I fully recognize that all of my obsession with bonding and attachment were due to my own adoption trauma and while I sometimes resented that I was the only one who could feed him, I was also glad that I was the only one who could feed him. I was mom. Nobody else could take that role.
Now, with Lil G, I’m struggling. It feels very reminiscent of the pregnancy, where, with Potamus it was all glowy and mama goddess, and then with #2 I hated it. Having had mastitis, which left me feeling like shit and ramped up my anxiety to almost agoraphobic levels, paired with nipple trauma, a clipped tongue and lip tie, disorganized suck, on top of parenting a 4 year old who is struggling with the loss of his Universe/Mama to the demands of his new brother, I am thisclose to throwing in the towel on breastfeeding. I had already resigned myself to weaning or partially weaning around 6 months when I go back to work, because I loathe pumping, but part of me feels like the women who allow themselves the option of pain meds during labor and then request them 5 minutes in.
Because, you see, breastfeeding the first go round was for me. I was recently talking to my sister-in-law, who’s exclusively pumping for my niece after a rough start breastfeeding, about how I think that is the hardest route to go. And that if I had to pump I would just use formula, because for me breastfeeding was about the ease and the bonding, not about the nutrition. I nursed for me, not for my baby. Maybe that’s selfish to admit, but it’s true. I needed to feel the bond. I needed to be needed in that way. I needed to nurse to make me a mother the first go round.
But now I am a mother. Now, when Lil Go was born, and I stared into his sweet face, I felt the deep love that I knew nothing could replace. I AM his mom. Nothing will make me anything less than his mom. Nothing will take away my deep love for him. And so I stare at the two free cans of formula on the top of my fridge and think…what if…what if?
It’s only been 4.5 weeks with this little guy, and a struggle, so I don’t want to make a decision out of difficulty. I know I will give it more time, but I also want to enjoy my baby, enjoy time with Potamus, and not dread every feeding. I don’t want to plug my ears when he starts his 5th fussing of the night, pretending for just 5 more minutes that he doesn’t need my barely healing nipples. And the thought of someone else in the future being able to feed him, while I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding, or out at a yoga class, feels so refreshing that I want to skip around in the sunshine. Does that make me a terrible person?
Perhaps in 5 months, when I’m truly weaning (currently my goal is to give formula at daycare, and nurse on off hours), I’ll feel nostalgic and sad that I didn’t extend breastfeeding like with Potamus. Or maybe I’ll feel relief. Can I do something completely different with Baby #2 and still be a rockin’ awesome mom? I think so. I love all the moments with this baby…except when he’s attached to my boob…