More than Milk: A Breastfeeding Story

 

Right now my precious baby girl is sound asleep after having just had a warm bottle of milk that didn’t come from my breast. No big deal, right? Right. It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago the thought of that happening was a VERY. BIG. DEAL.

After two weeks of giving it the old college try, I stopped breastfeeding my newborn. That decision was an agonizing one because I wanted so badly to do what my body was designed to do and feed my child. For after all, I’d read and heard so many times that ‘breast milk is the best milk.’ The benefits of breastfeeding reads like a list of “things I would do after I won the lottery.” In fact, you can even call breast milk liquid gold! Every mom should breastfeed, because, well…you have to and you’re a loser if you don’t (granted, no one actually said that to me, but it’s the subliminal message that’s preached in virtually every piece of literature out there on how you should feed your baby).

Eight years ago I had a breast reduction and in doing so, I essentially made the decision then to be okay with not being able to breastfeed. But then I got pregnant and suddenly found myself with this intense desire to breastfeed, which I hadn’t expected. All I could do was literally wait until after I gave birth to see if I would in fact be able to breastfeed successfully. Well lo and behold, my milk came in two days after I delivered. Eureka! I had my own pot of liquid gold. I was so happy.

But then reality set in after I got home from the hospital. Breastfeeding is hard. And painful! And my baby wanted it. A LOT.  And pumping in between feedings caused my nipples to feel like they’d been caught up in a garbage disposal. On top of that my breasts started to become engorged which was a pain I had never known! I was hurting, stressed out, and beginning to have dreams of dancing bottles filled with formula. I agonized over what to do because I wanted to give up but felt an overwhelming sense of guilt for feeling that way. Essentially, though, I was in bad shape. The constant crying wasn’t good for me and certainly not for my baby. Something had to give.

Through the support of ‘my village’ I finally decided to try formula. I realized that doing what was best for my child included doing what was best for me too. And that, I felt, was switching to formula. For me, breastfeeding was just too hard and painful, and I was losing precious time enjoying my new baby because I was so distraught over the whole situation. In the end, I decided that although breast milk may be best, a happy, healthy mommy is better. My daughter deserves all of me, not just my milk. I am more than my milk!

I realized too, that when she’s my age, it won’t matter whether she was breast fed or not. Knowing that she had a mom that loved her is what will matter most. Plus, I was a formula fed baby and I’ve got a master’s degree – so there!

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