I didn’t even really think about the different feeding options when we found out we were having a kid. I was going to breastfeed. We made that decision because we think that’s the best thing for the baby (I saw we, but my husband – while pro breastfeeding – has said from the beginning we can do whatever I want. He knows). I have no opinion on what other mothers choose to do. I’ve been BFing for the past 7 weeks, and intend to continue for as long as we can. I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t at least give it a shot, but that’s really none of my business (I digress). The money saving factor didn’t even cross my mind. It still hasn’t, really, since I have no idea what formula costs – it could be 100 dollars a can or 10 dollars a can, and I wouldn’t know the difference. In retrospect, realizing we are saving money in that category makes me feel quite justified in the breast feeding support items I’m bought: nursing bras, shirts, nipple cream (its in every room of my house – not an exaggeration), pillows (ladies, the “My Brest Friend” pillow is a game changer), dresses, teas, supplements, cookies – whatever the hell I want. If I’m going to be carting around a milk bar for the next 6-12 months, you can be damn well sure I’m going to be comfortable while doing it.
I do feel lucky that we are able to breastfeed, though. I know a lot of people have trouble with it, or can’t actually breastfeed for physical or other reasons. I think that’s a shame – if they wanted to BF. If they didn’t want to, or are indifferent about it, that’s a whole separate post. When I started reading about it, I thought “self, it won’t be that hard, whats all the fuss about? Its natural!” and while I didn’t think it would be a walk in the park, but I really didn’t know what to expect when it was time to latch on and get moving.
The first two weeks were NOT easy. He wasn’t latching well, we were both exhausted and frustrated and he wasn’t gaining weight, so my husband and I were both stressed. We were talking about pumping and trying a bottle, but I was concerned if he took a bottle he’d NEVER latch properly. At this point, it would have been so easy to just say “eff this noise” and move onto formula. Again – this isn’t a bad thing, its just not what I/We wanted to do, so we called a lactation consultant. Three days and six ounces of weight gain later, she literally saved the day. And the nipples.
I’m okay with the challenges, setbacks, and sacrifices. Especially since it started getting easier – everyone said “it sucks in the beginning, but it will get easier!”. Which is true. So when we have those rough days, I had to keep reminding myself of that, because man, breastfeeding is work. And sometimes its painful – like, if your kid isn’t latching properly. Or if your kid thinks its party time and goes on and off and on and off and on and off the boob, but if you move him or put it away he gets pissed, or if you have a crack in your nipple because your kid didn’t latch properly, because he thought it was play time, and it takes a while to heal (among other things that can happen that I thankfully haven’t experienced – yet). You also miss out on a lot of things, which is another thing I didn’t think of. Since you made the decision to be the child’s source of nourishment, you have to be on call for a little drunk midget that occasionally wants to eat every single hour. You have to prepare ahead of time, and start a stock pile of boob juice in the freezer, so if you want to get your hair cut or have lunch with friends, someone else can give the kid a bottle – and then you have to pump the first chance you get, so you’re not uncomfortable.
By making the decision to exclusively breastfeed (EBF, FYI), we determine what the sacrifices are, and we decide if they are worth the end result. I’m not going to go through the benefits of BF, that’s all over the internet, so if you’re really interested google it. Or email me. If I wasn’t able to BF, I’d most likely shoot for the pumping route. Pumping while BFing isn’t the easiest thing, either – there are only so many times a day you can pump. Between feeding the baby, and then either playing with him or putting him for a nap (aka, waiting for a diaper change and then wearing him, because that’s the easiest/best way he’ll sleep), its hard to get in a good pump…which means here we are, at 345 AM after a night nurse in a hands free pumping bra writing a blog. Am I mad about that? Nah, not at all. Am I tired? Hell yes! But the days that are tough are only days, not weeks. They may feel like an eternity at the time, but #thistooshallpass (I think that’s the new mom mantra?). Is it easy staying awake to pump while you can hear your husband snoring in the room next to you? Nah. Do you want to smother him sometimes when he says he’s tired? Of course. Will you? Nah, probably not. Why not?
Because it is hard to remember is men don’t really know what goes into breastfeeding (especially when you’re exhausted). Sure, they can watch, or try and get an idea, but they will never be able to fully understand. We need to remember that when they say things like: “you seemed pretty cranky before”. Before clubbing them with the bat you keep next to your bed, remind yourself that they’re most likely feeling helpless because they can’t feed the baby unless you make a bottle for them. That has to be a difficult thing to do – because they want to help, and they want you to take a break, or get some sleep, but they don’t have the actual tools to do so. Until science comes up with a way for men to lactate (PLEASE let this happen before our next child), they’re kind of stuck. And then think of the look on your baby’s face when he’s had a nice, solid meal, plops his head down on your chest and falls asleep – because those moments make the entire journey worth it. It gives you the opportunity to slow down, and hang out with your baby, sometimes alone (sometimes with with the cat. Or your husband. Or whoever may be around when you’re nursing), because they aren’t going to be small enough to carry with one arm forever.