I Hate Breastfeeding: 2nd Baby Confession

12496528_10100828356823473_3734553706941214189_oWhen 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…

Advertisements

Breastfeeding a Toddler

extended breastfeeding

Potamus is 14 months old, and I have crossed over into the extended breastfeeding camp, surpassing my original 12 month goal. While exhausted some nights, wishing Boof could take over for all of the parenting duties, I am mostly really pleased with still following the baby-led weaning philosophy. While we’ve been weaned during the day for many months now, I have noticed this super flexibility in our breastfeeding relationship that doesn’t feel like the urgent nurse-on-demand offering from when he was small and I was worried about it going okay, and the rigorous every two hours all night nursings that accompanied the back-to-work-forced-day-weaning that happened when he reverse cycled and refused a bottle.

This flexibility has become more of a relaxed state of mind in this stage of the journey. We were day-weaned, which is what I felt comfortable with as a mom of a year-old baby/toddler. Night nursing only would involve the two of us (plus Boof), and nobody would really need to be bothered by the nursing of an older child. It kept mama happy and baby happy. He’s finally learned the art of the sippy cup, but still only drinks water and prefers yogurt over milk.

But there have been some times lately, like with Potamus not feeling well, that I offer the breast to him. It’s after I get home from work, or when he wakes up from a nap, or on my days off, when I am trying to put him down for a nap. And he has even begun to ask for it in his own way (and by ask I mean, just help himself), like when we’re in the shower together. We’re happily playing with the foam bath shapes, sticking them to the wall and he looks over at me, surveys the goods, and then dives in to boobie #1. Squatting like a little frog-man, he fully nurses and then goes back to happily playing with his toys.

What I love is those little snuggle moments. Like after his nap, when he’s rested but still sad to come back to reality from dreamland, and nestles on up to me, tears still in his eyes, and gets a little comfort. Sometimes playing with toys works, sometimes listening to some really bad 90’s music works, and sometimes he just needs a little nursing snack (as we call it), to feel grounded.

We’ve settled into this easy baby-led weaning place, and I love it. My snuggly, wiggly, big baby still needs me, and I am happy to oblige.

Weaning Funnies

little tuxedo

For the most part, my in-laws are on-board with this whole breastfeeding until whenever idea, but sometimes even their comfort zone is stretched. Like last night, when we were out to dinner at the fancy Columbia Tower Club (read, tallest building in Seattle). All of us were fancified in our finest Christmas garb, and dinner started out past Potamus’ early bedtime. He was holding up likeĀ  champ, mugging for photos and throwing Chex all over the fine carpetting, when he started to get a little cranky. Boof had been feeding him some asparagus, but he looked tired and maybe like he wanted a nursing snack, so I threw my hooter-hider on and hoisted him into my lap (after quickly shovelling the bison steak and mashed potatoes into my mouth, YUM!). After going through the routine of unhooking the nursing bra and whipping it out, while struggling to hold his wiggly 1 year old legs, I looked down to see his smiling face happily munching on asparagus and totally ignoring my exposed breast. With a laugh I squeeled, “ahaha, he’s eating asparagus under there!” The whole table giggled, too, and then they said “well, I guess it’s about time to wean, eh?” To which, I agreed.

But later, it gotĀ  me thinking, about how the general public views weaning. Because, truthfully the weaning process was begun a few months ago. At this point he’s down to a few times at night and maybe, maybe once during the day, if I am home, and we’re going down for a nap. But weaning is a relationship, ESPECIALLY since young Potamus doesn’t take liquid in any other form, that I’m not about to cut cold turkey. And Boof is even protective of my time with Potamus, acknowledging that it is the quickest, most effective, way of calming a fussy tired cranky needy sad little growing baby. The incident was funny, even downright hilarious, and there is truth to the whole weaning comment, but I wish that overall people saw weaning as a process and not a light switch to be turned off when one leaves the room.

Any funny weaning stories that you might have? Share here!