I originally posted this in response to BabyShrink‘s “The Good Enough Mother : Are Breasts Required?” post, and realized I had said a lot more than I meant to and didn’t realize just how much until I’d posted the comment. Comment? It was like a book! So I stole it back, and here it is.
Breastfeeding is such a hot topic, and I feel like I’ve gone through every facet of it. When my first was born, she was a month early, I was only 21 and had just moved to a new city due to the military. I didn’t know anyone and had no family in the area, so when my daughter was born I was completely overwhelmed. I wanted to breastfeed so badly, but I just couldn’t. I had no idea what I was doing, the hospital had me roomed with another person and they had people coming in and out all day, and she was so tiny it was like she couldn’t eat even if she wanted to. The nurses never asked me if I wanted to breastfeed, they just started her off on bottles right away. The pain of engorgement was something I just suffered through, because no one thought to ask me about pumping, and being an ignorant young lass, I had NO idea about it! My daugher is 10 now, but she’s very petite and willowy, and even though she’s a healthy growing girl, I can’t help but wonder if she’d be more robust if I’d breast fed her, and I still feel guilty about it.
When my second came along, I was bound and determined to breastfeed. I learned from my previous ignorance and had plenty of maternity leave and a pump all lined up. I was still in the military so I was able to be out of work without the stress of worrying about money. I found I was only able to breastfeed my son while laying down. My breasts are large but they’re so soft, they just smooshed over his face if I tried any other way, and he couldn’t breath. But I managed to do it! I was so proud of myself, I finally got it right, and I was even pumping extra for when I would go back to work. Disaster struck, literally, on 9/11/01. I was recalled from maternity leave after a month and a half with a son who WAS NOT WEANED TO A BOTTLE. He hated it, didn’t want it, cried whenever I tried to give him one. I was forced to take him to work with me a couple of days (for 12 hours overnight when I was the only one at the office) at the very beginning, and actually got in trouble, BIG trouble because of this. Trouble so big it made me only want to get out of the military and never look back. Needless to say, the stress of everything made me lose my milk, and my now 6-year-old son was formula fed from then on. I also got out of the military 6 months later.
Enter me at 31. Older, wiser, and much less meek, and my second son was born on January 2. I quit my job on Valentine’s (and hadn’t worked since October so they didn’t miss me anyway) to become a full-time mom. I feed on demand and co-sleep with my son, and I’ve never been happier. I still need to feed mainly from the side position, though I’ve managed to have him on my lap a handful of times. I did have to supplement a bit at the beginning before my supply got regular, but the days of formula in bottles are long behind us. My fridge is full of frozen milk I never needed, but can’t bear to throw away just yet. Just in case, I tell myself.