Breastfeeding: The bane of my existence

I have a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding. I love that it can be a special experience for mom and baby. I love that as a woman, we have the ability to provide the baby with everything it needs in the beginning months of their life. But I hate that it did not work well for me.

Briggs, my oldest, is adopted so breastfeeding wasn’t an option. After multiple rounds of IVF, I was able to get pregnant with a boy, Beau. With my pregnancy, I looked forward to all the ups and down that came with it (okay, not the bells palsy). But, I did look forward to breastfeeding.

Beau came out (well, was taken out after 12 hours of laboring) and immediately latched. I was breastfeeding my miracle baby, it was more than I could ever have hoped for. Except nothing came out. Again and again and again I tried and nothing came out. Beau would latch on but nothing would come out so all I was left with were sore nipples and a starving baby. My mother is a lactation consultant. And even she couldn’t help. She referred me to her lactation friends, they couldn’t help either. My sister’s couldn’t breast feed their babies because they had mastectomies. I felt it was my duty.

So, I turned to pumping. I was desperate to provide my baby boy with breast milk.

Pumping is my own personal definition of hell. The feeling, the sounds, the schedule. I was pumping for Beau, as well as Maureen’s soon to arrive little guy, Charlie. I wanted to give her as much as I could. (It turned out not to be very much at all).

I would wake up 2 hours after going to bed to feed Beau a bottle and then put him back to bed and then pump. The whole process took about 90 min. Then I would go back to bed for about 2 hours and repeat. I hated life. I also hated my sleeping husband next to me.

Pumping took over my life. I tried to make the process as efficient as possible. I pumped while driving in the car. I pumped while vacuuming. I pumped while doing the dishes. I hooked myself up to the pump and threw it in a backpack on my back. I still hated it.

I lasted 12 weeks and then I gave up. I felt bad. Actually I felt horrible. I couldn’t feed my child or help Maureen as much as I wanted when her little guy arrived.

But my little guy is a happy, healthy almost 5 year old now. I mean, he has a shit ton of allergies, probably from getting very little breast milk but we survived. We all survived. And I am proud of myself for trying, proud of myself for giving it everything I had at the time.

Do I wish I would have had that magical breastfeeding experience that everyone else talks about? Yes. But all we can do as mothers is try. We cannot punish ourselves for not doing everything we are “supposed” to do.

For those of you that can breastfeed, cherish that experience. For those of you that can’t, don’t beat yourself up about it.