I have been meaning to write this for a while now–I go back and forth about whether it even needs to be written. But I realized that I want to write for those of you who are in the thick of it–struggling with breastfeeding not working out like you planned.
So…when last we left our heroine she was here.
Ugh. I feel a little sick to my stomach just re-reading that post. That was a hard time.
Now is so, so much better.
Here’s what happened in between…
Z eventually took a bottle, although it didn’t happen right away, more like 5 months in. That made things a bit easier.
Around six months, we started introducing solids. Although I was planning on doing baby-led-weaning I ended up doing a hybrid so that he could get as many calories as possible. I was still very, very anxious about his weight (up until about 14 months. Aw heck, I still am a little bit.)
At ten months, on the advice of our naturopath, we switched to an alternative formula. We used a recipe of plant milks, full-fat coconut milk, flax oil, and carrot juice. That made me feel much, much better about how what we were feeding Z squared with the research I was doing as I transitioned our family to a plant-based diet.
Now, at sixteen months, Z is still breastfeeding (with no supplements) and it’s completely natural and easy.
(Whoa. Seriously. I never thought I would be able to write that last sentence.)
To those of you who are struggling through stressful weigh-ins, doctor visits, lactation consultant appointments, and all sorts of interventions you never would have dreamed of while you were pregnant (pumping! tube feeding! nipple shield! whaaaaa?! this is “natural”??!!), I have this to say–
First, be careful what you let into your brain.
There is a circle of people for whom breastfeeding is a huge passion and a mission. Step away from these people.
Yes, their work is wonderful and can be very inspiring. Especially back when you were pregnant and gathering information. And I absolutely agree that we need advocates for breastfeeding–to spread the word about the benefits, to influence public policy, and to fight for the right of mothers to breastfeed without stigma.
However–if you’re trying really hard and it’s not working, then letting these people in to your brain does not help. I had to unfollow a lot of “natural moms” on twitter because I could only take so many triumphant tweets about some study or other about how great breastfeeding (or, how awful formula) was.
I know, they weren’t doing this to make me feel bad, of course. But reading these things did make me feel bad. After a while I realized I needed to back away for my mental health. (You know a blog post that did help? This one.)
Now, I’m not saying that you want to go the complete opposite direction. Because when you’re trying or have tried or are heartbroken about something, the last thing you want to hear is–oh well, it doesn’t really matter anyway! (Oh no, don’t you even tell me this thing I am struggling with is not that important!)
Maybe step away from mama blogs or parenting books or forums for a little while? At least the breastfeeding wars.
This is a fragile time. Don’t let in anything that doesn’t support you and your efforts one hundred percent.
(Honestly I still get a little twitchy when I read an article comparing breastfeeding and formula, because while my baby has gotten a lot of breast milk, he also got a lot of formula.)
It’s okay to be…(hurt/angry/disappointed/whatevs)
Some people are not comfortable with grief, or any negative emotion, period. They will say things to you like “well at least you have a healthy baby!”
As if you’re not aware. As if one emotion necessarily cancels out another.
As if you cannot feel more than one thing at once.
I was overjoyed, unbelievably giddy in love with my baby. I felt so intensely blessed that I had a healthy pregnancy and he had a beautiful birth. I did not take those things for granted or one second.
And at the same time, I was heartbroken, frustrated and angry that this thing that supposedly is the most natural thing in the world wasn’t working for us. That the research I had done and the choice I had made for my child was not available to me.
(Not to mention, exhausted by worry and just keeping up with our feeding routine.)
The last thing I needed to feel on top of all the anger and heartache was guilt for feeling my feelings.
So I want to tell you, it’s okay to mourn the easy, “natural” breastfeeding experience. It doesn’t make you any less grateful for your healthy baby.
It’s okay to feel angry when people talk about breastfeeding as if it’s the easiest thing in the world and gee, why doesn’t everyone do it…
If you can find some beauty in the tension, in feeling the joy and the sadness all at once, then that will help. (Btw, this is also the secret to life.)
And finally–Babies change really, really quickly.
I knew this intellectually, but I didn’t quite understand what it meant in our lives.
I had been reading and dreaming and preparing for so long before I had Z. And then he was here and it felt a little bit like opening night of a play–like places everyone, THE BABY IS HERE NOW. The moment we’ve been waiting for! Everything must go perfectly!
But (hopefully) you’ll have many, many years to be in relationship with your child. Some things you will do so awesomely you’ll want to give yourself a freaking medal. Other things you will screw up royally. And all of this will happen in one day. (And again the next day.)
At the beginning, it seems like breastfeeding is so all-consuming, because feeding is the main thing you do for your baby. And you may be spending time chatting or meeting with other new moms, and there’s nothing but boobs! everywhere!
But by six months or nine months it becomes way less of the overall picture of parenting. And by the time you have a toddler it’s just a tiny part of your daily life.
Every stage feels like it will last forever until it changes in an instant.
No related posts.