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What's All the Fuss About?

Now that I've had two babies, I feel I can say the following with a little more authority:

Breastfeeding? Meh.

I've read all the books. I know there's supposed to be some intimate, warm, and fuzzy breastfeeding bond between mother and baby. And in the boob vs. bottle wars, this mysterious bond is what all the breastfeeders state as the second most important advantage, right after they tell you how breastfed babies grow up to be better looking and three times as brilliant as formula-fed babies. But I'm on my second breastfed baby, and I've yet to feel the magic.

I blamed Jack for the lack of bonding the first time around. He was a tiny little guy with a weak suck and I was, uh, big, and the logistics were just pretty difficult. The first two weeks were an eye-crossing cycle of nursing, tube feeding, pumping, and washing and sterilizing all the little plastic parts just in time to start the process over. I took two trips to two different lactation consultants, read all the books, and informed my husband he couldn't go back to work because how in the world was I supposed to do this BY MYSELF? But somewhere in that third week Jack was stronger and I was smarter and things drastically improved. So much so that when I look back on that experience I am able to say, "Gee, that wasn't half as bad as I was expecting it to be!"

Even though feeding Jack got easier and easier, it was never the Special Time I'd heard about. For Jack, food was fuel. He had no interest in lingering and snuggling. As soon as he gulped his fill he wanted off my lap and I can't say I was disappointed. I hated sitting around in breastfeeding jail, unable to answer the phone or type an email. And at six months when my supply seemed to drop, Jack was no longer interested. I had friends who agonized over weaning their babies. How? When? How sad will it be? For us, "weaning" took all of one day. Jack was done and I may have done a little "Yay, I've Got My Body Back!" dance.

When I found out I was pregnant with Molly, I wondered if I'd get a different kind of eater. Half of me wanted a baby who loved to nurse, just so I could experience this bond thing everyone talked about. And, I admit it, half of me hoped I got another Jack. I didn't assume breastfeeding would be easier the second time, but Molly popped out knowing exactly what to do. She was strong and hungry and I, at least, knew how to position her. Feeding Molly has been ridiculously easy, so much so that I'm afraid to talk about it in front of new mothers smothering themselves in lanolin and crying on the phone to the lactation consultants. I lucked out big time, and I plan to breastfeed her as long as the two of us are happy. But I still wonder: WHERE IS THE BONDING?

I'm probably doing something wrong. I'm not focused entirely on Molly when she's eating. I'm half asleep or reading a magazine or hollering at my other kid to get out of his sister's bouncy seat. And I probably have the wrong attitude. I still get impatient having to sit down and feed the baby every couple of hours, and I get irritated with my husband who says, "I think she's hungry!" and passes her off to me so he can do grown up things like eat lunch and use the bathroom.

Sometimes, when she's finished and happens to be calm instead of spitting up, she looks straight at me, examining my face and THEN I feel sort of bondy. But not while she's eating. While she's eating I'm trying to make sure I'm not leaking everywhere.

I know I'm not alone, but I also know the bonding thing is real and I'm bummed I'm missing out. I suspect, however, that discovering the bond will require a total change of temperament and I'm much too lazy for that. I'll be over there, feeding the baby and watching TV.


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