Monday, June 27, 2011

Maybe I'm too sensitive

Maybe I'm too sensitive, but man I get tired of all of the breast-feeding nazis out there.  Every day I feel like I see something about how my children are going to be dumber, fatter, sicker, slower, uglier, and more cancer ridden because they were formula fed.  Actually, I'm just surprised they didn't die from SIDS since I was so uncaring enough not to breast feed them until they were old enough to chew filet mignon.
Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating.  A little.

But c'mon you breast feeding proponents.  Enough already.  We get it.  Breast is best.

Really, do you think there is a person out there that still doesn't understand that breast milk is the optimum choice for a baby's nutrition?  That it is biologically engineered to feed that baby.  We get it.  We all get it.

Do you think people who smoke really don't know it will cause lung cancer?

People who don't breastfeed don't not do it because they don't understand those facts...  They don't do it because their milk doesn't come in, or the baby doesn't latch right, or how about this: they just don't want to.

I have a good friend who didn't breast feed because she just thought it sounded gross.  She is very private about her body and her personal parts and didn't want a) a baby sucking on it or b) to have to breastfeed in public etc.  So she chose to bottle feed with formula.  She didn't put her baby to the breast even once.  Not even to try.  Immediately after labor she began working to dry up her swollen breasts.

Meanwhile, my milk never fully came in.  Try as I might.  I drank Mother's Milk tea.  I took Fenugeek supplements.  I drank liters and liters of water.  I did kangaroo care.  I pumped every 2 hours, on the dot.  I barely made enough to feed one baby, let alone two.  I wanted to breast feed so bad it hurt.  Literally.

I had planned to do it for a year.  We even moved within a mile of my work so that I could go home to nurse once I went back to work.  

But my children would have starved if it hadn't been for formula.  In more ways than one.  Because not only did my milk never fully come in (I never once had "let down" or "engorgement"), but also, my boys never learned to latch on.  Lactation consultant after lactation consultant, even one that specialized in preemies, couldn't help me get those boys to successfully hook up to the tap.

But I was so adamant to give my boys "the best" that I kept trying.  I was like the Little Engine That Could trying so hard to climb that mountain.  Being weighed down by weak breasts, lazy feeding babies,  post-bedrest recovery, and post-partum feelings of failure because I couldn't do this simple thing that nature had designed for my body to do.

After weeks and weeks of torturing myself...  pumping every 2-3 hours, losing sleep, crying rivers of tears each time my babies wouldn't latch or I pumped just 2 ounces, I finally considered giving up.  Superman was beyond relieved when I mentioned it.  He had been wanting me to stop trying weeks ago, but knew he couldn't suggest it.

I called a cousin of mine who I knew had gone through the same thing and eventually given up.  She's a great mom to two beautiful healthy kids.  She had quit after her breasts had failed her with her son, and had such a bad experience that she decided not to try with her daughter.  After several phone calls and hours of consoling, I knew she was right when she told me that I wasn't a bad mother for wanting to quit, that in fact, I would become a better mother after quitting because I would be able to enjoy my babies more.  Feeding time would become joyful, rather than dreaded.  I would hold my babies and smile and laugh while they ate, instead of live in constant anxiety and sadness each time feeding didn't go well.

The final straw was the morning I had pumped and pumped for 40 minutes and gotten less than an ounce.  While cleaning my pump, I accidentally spilled my milk.  And oh did I cry over spilled milk.  I had a full blown hysterical collapse.  My milk was more precious than gold to me at that point.  I was working so hard to produce even the slightest drops for my pre-mature infants...and now it was just a tiny whitish puddle on my kitchen floor.

As I was sitting on the floor sobbing and wiping my eyes, I knew.  My phone calls to my cousin weren't about looking for advice.  They were about looking for permission.  Asking permission from someone I knew to be a good mom that it was okay to quit.  I wanted to quit.

So I did.

I called the hospital and arranged for them to come get my rented hospital grade pump.

Then I called my husband and asked him to bring me home a bottle of wine.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 were 8 weeks old.

And guess what?  They didn't didn't die.  Niether did my friend's who chose not to try.  They aren't dumber, fatter, sicker, slower, or uglier than my breast fed friends' kids.  In fact, all three of the kids are incredibly bright, healthy, perfect size for their ages, and good-looking four year olds.  And we are both great moms, if I may say so myself.  We both make the best choices possible for our kids.  We put our childrens' health and happiness first.

I wonder if all of the breast-feeding propaganda bothers her like it does me.  Maybe I'm overly sensitive because I did try so hard and still failed.  To me, even four years later, it still feels like having salt rubbed over my wounds.  Like I'm being judged by people who don't even know me or my story.  Like I'm being marked as a bad mom by some imaginary Scarlett F.

It's funny, because I don't feel this way about my c-section.  Not in the least.  Would I have preferred a traditional delivery?  Sure.  But once my doctor said the c-section would be best having twins, I trusted her, accepted it, and moved on.

I don't know if it's because the c-sections vs. vaginal delivery rhetoric isn't as prevalent, or if I just don't notice it because I've never had one ounce of remorse, regret, or guilt, like I have known some other c-section mothers to have.  My babies needed to be born, and my doctor and I made an educated decision on the safest way to bring them into the world.  End of story.

Maybe it's because I feel like with my c-section I was in control.  I made the ultimate decision.  Where with the breast feeding, it seems like the decision was made for me (by my body).

So if you are a breast-feeding mommy.  Good for you!  I hope you feel lucky and blessed that you are being honored with the ability to provide and bond with your baby this way.  And if you are a struggling breast-feeding mommy, know that you have to follow your heart.  Maybe the answer is to stick with it and it will get better, but if you need to stop, it will be okay too.  I promise there are many more factors to having great kids than whether or not you breast feed.  And if you chose not to breast feed, while I may not understand it, I can respect that it is your choice.  And I'm sure your children will turn out great too.  'Cause like Superman always says "Some of my favorite people in the world were formula fed babies."  (That would be him and me. :)

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