Monday, August 13, 2012

And Now For Something Completely Different

I have thought a lot about this subject, having mothered three infants. But now, you all will know how I really feel about it.

Breast is best.

I would never argue that formula is better. In fact I hate formula, it’s annoying to have to have it, it stinks, and it’s expensive.

I could not breast feed. I tried. I tried very hard. But with each and every child the feedings took an hour to an hour and a half and they wanted to eat every two (sometimes three, those times were amazing, thank you Coen) hours. This meant a 30-60 minute break between feedings. It also meant not much sleep. None of my boys were breast fed past three months (Malachi and I suffered together the longest, Simon lasted six weeks, Coen five (though Coen was breast fed the most because he was not supplemented at all, and the others were)).

I couldn’t handle the stress, and I couldn’t handle the idea that they were not getting enough and that’s why they ate for so long. What I wouldn’t give for a 10 or 15 minute feeding! I did all the things right, and followed all the suggestions.

But I’ve had body issues. And I don’t mean self-esteem issues. I mean, I’ve had problems with that part of my body (of which I will not go into detail). The problems were solved with surgery, and I hadn’t thought about it much since high school. I was meeting with a nurse practitioner a couple of years ago and she suggested the surgeries might be the cause for not being able to nurse effectively. It made sense and it helped me deal with the guilt I was having from not being able to nurse Malachi and Simon long. It helped me greatly (though not fully) when I had to stop nursing Coen.

The pressure to breast feed Malachi, especially since he was a preemie, was great, from so many different directions. It caused so much guilt and pain when it didn’t work out. Both Malachi and I spent most of his first three months crying. It was a horrible time, and I got so little sleep that I don’t remember much of it. I’m sad now, that my memories of his first three months are laced with tears and stress. I vowed I wouldn’t live like that with my second and third. It wouldn’t be fair to myself or my family members. So I quit much sooner with Coen and Simon. Both times it was choosing what was best for the whole. Everyone was much happier, though the guilt was pretty strong until I finally let go.

I don not feel guilty that I couldn’t breast feed. Yes, I agree, breast is best. I would have nursed all of my kids for 6-12 months if I’d been able to. That would certainly have been ideal. But it was not possible. And I am not going to dwell on it.

9 comments:

Laurie Gerg's said...

Oh, Sara, you poor thing! I'm sorry there are so many of us Nursing Nazis out there who don't take into consideration other mother's preferences and special circumstances. It is so true that hard lines are towed by the "breast is best" believers and real people with real situations and feelings and rights to choose what they want (even if it is simply that they don't want to breastfeed because, well, they just don't want to!!) get left out in the cold now and then. On behalf of those of us who are sometimes stupid and idealistic and naive, I say that I am sorry. Bless you, bless you, bless you. Your babies are and will be perfectly healthy and normal. Amen.

Sara said...

Thank you Laurie. You're very kind. I hope it works out very well for you and your little baby.

k @ there is fun to be done said...

I was actually thinking of blogging about this topic after being stressed by reading too much about nursing.... After a month my little one is all formula now - and I'm happy to say that I'm not a bad mom for it! Cheers!

alex said...

I had a similar experience, and for me it came down to this: was breast milk really so much better nutritionally that it was worth having a mom who was borderline nuts and barely able to devote energy to loving and caring for her son? I didn't think so. No regrets. Plus, you say you didn't breastfeed, but you did it through three months and five months -- that's no small feat!

Theresa said...

Uggghhh. People are so irrational about nursing! Either you're nursing too long, or you're not nursing long enough. You're eating or drinking something you shouldn't be, or you're not eating enough.

Breast *is* best, but millions of babies have grown up perfectly normal and healthy on forumla. If nursing is making you (generic you, not you, Sara) crazy, stop nursing! A mother's mental health is as important to the baby's health as the choice between nursing and forumla. Maybe more so.

I'm sorry people are jerks. I hope it's not coming from folks at your new Post. :(

Theresa said...

Uggghhh. People are so irrational about nursing! Either you're nursing too long, or you're not nursing long enough. You're eating or drinking something you shouldn't be, or you're not eating enough.

Breast *is* best, but millions of babies have grown up perfectly normal and healthy on forumla. If nursing is making you (generic you, not you, Sara) crazy, stop nursing! A mother's mental health is as important to the baby's health as the choice between nursing and forumla. Maybe more so.

I'm sorry people are jerks. I hope it's not coming from folks at your new Post. :(

Sara said...

K - you're right, you're not a bad mommy! And neither was I, but no matter how much I told myself this I still felt horrible. Mommy guilt is the worst.

Alex - it's nice to hear when I'm not alone in not being able to nurse. Thank you for sharing.

Theresa - Yes, exactly. And no, I haven't nursed a child in over a year.

Sara said...

Good for you. I think what is so important that people glaze over is that women should be supportive of other women no matter what their decision about breast feeding or formula. I find it despicable that women judge one another about these sort of things. Where we should really be banding together to raise our little ones together.

God, I remember those first few months with each of my 3 girls where the feedings did come back to back because they nursed so darn long. Heck-I'm still not sleeping and the third is 10 months.

I nursed all 3 of mine because I could but seriously all the hoopla about nursing is overrated. I loved it don't get me wrong but I don't think my girls would be worse off if I couldn't have managed.

Let this go...which is I bet why you blogged about it. Congrats!

Sara said...

Thanks Sara.