Boobs. Such a loaded topic when discussing them in terms of breastfeeding. (See what I did there? Boobs? Loaded? With milk?)
Lest Snooki become the last bastion for breastfeeding information for the entire human race, I thought I’d tell y’all a bit about why I chose breastfeeding for my kids and some of the pros and cons I’ve experienced so far. (This will be a series because boobs are kind of a big topic for one post. Especially if they’re my boobs which are now an F cup.)
I breastfeed. Sometimes I don’t like it. Most of the time I do.
I didn’t grow up with women who breastfed, so it’s not because I was shown or taught that it’s the way things are done. My brother is 7 years younger than me and the only memory I have of him being breastfed was my mama in her bed spilling a bottle of pumped milk and crying about it. My cousin, who was staying with us to help her out, ushered me out of the room and said “It’s okay. Sometimes moms cry. It’s called ‘The Baby Blues.'”
I vaguely remember that same cousin breastfeeding her daughter and not really thinking anything of it.
I remember being shocked once by a woman who was nursing in public between two racks of clothes while I was working. I was 16 and it was the first time I’d seen the boobs of someone to whom I wasn’t related and/or as a gratuitous shot in a scary movie. (That is, until the time I was flashed by an 87 year old.) I wanted to offer her a place to sit in one of the dressing rooms but didn’t know how to approach her to do so or even if I should.
That’s it. The sum total of my breastfeeding exposure prior to getting pregnant with Joshua and figuring out what to do.
But there wasn’t much of a decision for me to make. I knew I wanted to do it. I mean, I’d carted those boobs around for 27 years and landed a man with them. They better start earning their keep, right?
Basically, that was it.
That’s what they were there for.
Also, breastmilk was free, so I might as well use my boobs to feed my kid with and save some money for the expensive Baby Gap apparel I was falling in love with since it was the only stuff I could find that didn’t have teddy bears all over it.
Really, those were my top two reasons when I decided to breastfeed Joshua. Free milk from boobs I already had.
But then I got stubborn. And a little self-righteous.
To say I had little support in the been-there-done-that sense is a bit of an understatement. I didn’t have much practical support. Dan had certainly never breastfed a baby before. My mama had breastfed for a short time a good 20+ years prior to Joshua’s birth. I had a close friend (singular) who was breastfeeding and I was so thankful for her honest advice–it wouldn’t come as naturally as it seemed like it should. But that really only helped so much.
When so many things went wrong with Joshua’s delivery, breastfeeding felt like the only thing I had left that could still go “according to plan.” I needed to make it work even when it caused me stress.
I needed to feel like I was being the best mom I could be. And the best moms breastfed their kids. All the literature said so. (Plenty of the best moms don’t breastfeed their kids.)
I’m not afraid to admit I maybe had a bit of a martyr-complex. I believed I was doing what was best for him (and still do) and that the sacrifices I was making (like sleep) were sacrifices that I had to make if I was going to be a good mom. This may not have been the best or healthiest reason for me to breastfeed, but it is what it is. It’s one of the reasons I did it and I’m nothing if not honest.
Eventually, I really loved it. A lot.
We ended up combination feeding Joshua for 8.5 months until I decided I’d had enough of pumping 5 times a day and wanted to eat cheese again in time for the holidays. (He had a dairy allergy. It was a long 8.5 months but I’d do it again if I had to.)
The fact that I love it is why I’m breastfeeding Emma and will continue to do so for as long as…well, I don’t know how long. We’ll see.
It’s also why I believe in advocating for mothers who want to breastfeed and am an outspoken supporter of breastfeeding now. I want all moms who choose to breastfeed–and yes, I do wish more mothers would choose to breastfeed initially because I think it would help the overall rates of women who are successful to be, well, successful–to be able to do that without judgment or criticism from their bosses, spouses, random strangers, and the likes of orange, highly-poofed “celebrities” who got famous getting drunk on MTV.
Because the day she becomes an authority on anything other than spray tans is the day I know we’ve lost all hope.