Nov
03

Waving the (Milky) White Flag

By

Please forgive me. For the first time the other day, I gave my baby formula. Not because I needed to, but because I just couldn’t bring myself to breastfeed. I just want to be DONE already! Selfish, I know, especially since I’ve made it this far. She just turned nine months old, and I really wanted to make it to a year so I could go right from breast milk to cow’s milk without having to fork out the exorbitant price of formula. And I am SO close, but I have just hit a wall. I’m tired. My nipples are tired. And my child now bites.

I started the breastfeeding venture wanting to do what was best for my baby. The myriad benefits of breastfeeding certainly outweigh the alternative, so I thought I owed it to my baby to give it a whirl. But I also went into this knowing it’s not for everyone. It’s not always easy, it can be painful, and millions of formula babies (myself included) have turned out just fine. I was determined to try, but equally determined not to feel guilty if it did not work out. But it did, and I am so glad and grateful that it did.

There is something very sweet, very natural, and even very empowering about breastfeeding a baby. I marvel at my baby’s growth and think, Wow. I did that! I absolutely love those quiet moments looking down and seeing her at my breast while I rock her to sleep. Or listening to her breathe softly through the swallows of milk, and then watching her pause long enough to smile up at me. I know I will miss those moments.

But I long for the freedom of being done. The freedom of NOT worrying about feeding or pumping every four or five hours. The freedom of not having to question whether an outfit is nursing friendly before I put it on. (Yes, I have so missed a good portion of my wardrobe since we’ve been separated for a year and a half now.) The freedom of sleeping though the night or at least sleeping in and letting the daddy tend to her if she cries, since right now, often nursing is the only thing that will soothe her in the wee hours of the morning.

Part of the reason I want to be done is because I’ve exhausted my back supply of frozen milk, and it’s hard to keep up when I have to send several bottles to daycare on work days. The pumping just doesn’t yield as much as it used to. And while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about the pumping, shall we? If you can get past the sheer hassle of it — lugging the damn pump to and from work every day, trying to find the time to cover my classroom windows, lock the doors, and partially undress in the middle of the school day — there’s still the “mechanicalness” of it all that truly makes one feel, well, bovine.

While a child at the breast is a tender sight to some, there is nothing, I repeat NOTHING endearing about the sight of a woman hooked up to tubes and plastic funnels while nipples are rhythmically pulled and tugged to the whir and hum of an electric milking machine.

Some days I see that my baby is hungry and whip out my boob and think, This is sweet. This is easy. I can do this. Certainly the “no bottle necessary” method makes feeding quicker, simpler and easier. But other days, and MANY days now, I see that she is hungry and want to throw a tantrum — a full on stomp my feet and ball my fists and jut out my lower lip tantrum, and scream, “But I don’t wanna!” My breasts are tired of this full time job being sucked and groped and just don’t want to be touched. Now that my child bites, it’s also crossed the line from tender to tenderizing, and frankly, I just don’t find the humor in that (though apparently, Muffin does).

I gave my baby eight full months of breastfeeding, and while lasting that long is great, it’s also why I feel so selfish and guilty about wanting to stop NOW, so close to my once envisioned finish line. So here I am — waving the white flag. I gave in and gave her the formula. Of course she didn’t like it and pushed it away…sigh. She probably won’t like cow’s milk either. Yet another thing in motherhood that doesn’t go quite the way you think.

So on I will breastfeed, and on I will pump as I try to figure out an exit strategy. With any luck, it will be an exit strategy free of guilt. One can only hope.

Comments

  1. trogdor says:

    And I am only now starting to pump in order to gain back some freedom and semblance of my former self, the one without a human attached to my chest virtually all hours of the day. Good luck to you.

  2. Minimeltdown says:

    No doubt it’s hard. At nine months I thought it couldn’t end soon enough and then somehow at twelve I wasn’t ready to give it up. Go figure. F.y.i. I finally have but I don’t think she’s too happy about it. Oh well, more mom guilt.

  3. brewin says:

    I hear you sister–I am starting my final approach into fancy bra land and the view is lovely. I felt done by month 11 and am coasting in on fumes, so I feel your pain. However, I am glad that I don’t have to look at every upset tummy and ear infection and wonder if I had a hand in it. I applaud your efforts, especially hooking up to the pump o’ matic to feed your little one. Bravo to you and the girls for sacrificing so much!