Some Thoughts on Breastfeeding
August 4, 2011
HERE'S a topic no one has an opinion about! Let's get started!
So far I've breastfed two babies, for six and seven months respectively. While it was nowhere near the nightmare experience I expected, especially the second time, I never did get to a point where I enjoyed it. You know all those ladies who talk about the bonding experience and not being ready to wean and all that? I am not one of them.
It seems like a lot of women have some high expectations when it comes to themselves (and their babies!) for breastfeeding, but again, I was not one of those. Honestly, the most I knew about breastfeeding before having my first baby was what a miserable horrible experience my mother had with ME. I heard about it every so often growing up and I had no romantic notions going into it myself. My first two awful weeks breastfeeding a newborn seemed de rigeur, but then... it got sort of easy. And convenient. And not a big deal. And free! I liked the free part.
But I had a kid who just wasn't all that interested. I never understood the bonding thing everyone talked about. Jack loved the bottle just as much as he loved me, he expressed no preference, he wasn't warm and snuggly with me, and getting him to eat enough was a pain no matter what method we used. When [I SWEAR THIS IS TRUE] Jack pretty much weaned himself at six months I was not at all bummed out. I MAY have been dancing around the house singing, "I got my body back! I got my body back!"
There were no awful stretches with Molly. She was a nursing champ from the get go (possibly being bigger and stronger has a lot to do with this!) and she also benefitted from a mother who had finally figured out what a proper latch looked like. I even figured out how to nurse this kid lying down - that's how easy it was. It was so easy I didn't even bother introducing a bottle until she was five or six weeks old and NEVER AGAIN! I now had a child who refused bottles and I was in Breastfeeding Jail until the end of time. And while she was warmer and snugglier than her brother and obviously liked the process of eating a lot more than her brother did, the no bottle thing was killing me. I think it was probably my insistence on getting her to take a bottle that weaned her at 7 months - I was pretty much ONLY offering the bottle hoping that eventually she'd take it. And once she did, she didn't really go back. Perhaps it was too early, but I wasn't brokenhearted. Maybe I should have been, but basically I was too busy dancing around my house singing, "I got my body back! I got my body back!"
Now I look at my kids, ages four and practically three, and I think: WELL NO WONDER. They had their little personalities from the very beginning, but I hadn't learned them yet. I didn't yet know, when Jack was only three months old, that he would NEVER be a good eater. That I would ALWAYS struggle with getting him to eat more than two bites of anything. That for him, food is fuel. That he cannot stand to be held and snuggled - not for long, anyway. And when Molly was only three months old I had only inklings that she was the snuggliest baby in the world and also the most stubborn. That there would be any number of things - from walking to using the potty - that she would absolutely refuse to do until she was good and ready.
Now those experiences just make sense. A big fat breastfeeding DUH. And they make me wish I had a good grasp of Third Baby's personality so I'd know what I'm getting into.
I'm HOPEFUL about the bonding thing. It was a lost cause with Jack, but even with Molly it didn't feel all that special. Molly would (and will!) snuggle whether or not food was part of the experience. There IS a way that I felt specially bonded to Molly, but I don't think it had much to do with a better breastfeeding experience. And that's not to say that I never "bonded" with Jack either. It just didn't have anything at all to do with breastfeeding. But so many moms talk about it and moon over it and I WOULD like to know what that's like. I'm hopeful. I'll try. (Then again, maybe the problem is me. Can I bond while feeling like a milk cow? I'm not sure.)
Anyway, it's just another one of those situations where you feel like everything would be MUCH easier if the powers that be just gave you a quick information card when the baby is born. "Hates being swaddled. Will have a dairy allergy. Is a tension-decreaser, so CIO will only last one night. Likes to be bounced and zerberted. Don't bother buying a swing - he can't stand them." You know. HELPFUL STUFF.
I've got one cheerful, breezy, independent kid and one sweet, cuddly, super stubborn kid and our breastfeeding relationships (barf) were SO indicative of those personality traits. I can't wait to see what the next one is like.