Friday, November 9, 2012

My boobs (and my spirit) are broken...

Last night, I cried for the first time Henry was born. I know it's ok for new moms to cry constantly, but I have just been in survival mode - putting one foot in front of the other - with little time left for reflection. I am not the kind of girl that cries a lot in real life. (Although I cry constantly in my life as it pertains to watching commercials, tv, and movies). So for me to muster up some tears, I usually am at a place that's pretty grim.

If this sounds like an introduction to the "I have postpartum depression" conversation, it's not. It is however the beginning of the story called "breastfeeding is ruining my life."

That's obviously a hyperbolic statement, and my life is not ruined. In fact, I will readily admit that I basically have the easiest life ever. But, this shit is hard. And it makes me feel like a bad mom. Two weeks ago, I would have told you that breastfeeding hurts like a bitch and that it is way more difficult than I ever imagined. Of course, I never imagined that WE would have any problems. I read several books about breastfeeding. I watched youtube videos of strangers boobs in preparation. I spent the last 3 months of pregnancy with my iphone glued to my hand reading every baby forum on the internet. But about $200 on every breastfeeding product available and one visit from the lactation consultant later - breastfeeding isn't hard: it's traumatic.

There was/is nothing I feel more strongly about as a mom than the benefits of breastfeeding, so you can imagine that I have a huge sense of loss about not loving it. Yes, it is extremely painful for me. And at one month, it shouldn't be... especially when you've tried everything to make it better. But that's not what is making it awful. What is making me so upset is that breastfeeding is supposed to be an extremely sweet, loving, and bonding act between mother and baby. And it could not be further from that for me right now.

Sometimes, I even find myself getting mad at Henry for not latching properly or doing something that hurts me. MAD. At a BABY. Yeah, that's insane, right? And even if the feeding is only moderately painful, I find myself completely disconnected and just wanting it to be over. I even feel tempted to cut feedings short because I can't take the discomfort any more. Which, hello, you cannot do if you are trying to feed a baby solely on breastmilk. And on top of that, I am starting to have trouble satisfying Henry with enough milk.

So last night, I considered buying some formula for the first time, and even the thought of it sent me into a shame spiral of guilt and embarrassment. I am not implying that any mom that formula feeds should feel guilty, or that formula is in any way "bad" for your baby. But even the formula cans remind everyone that "breast is best" right there on the label. I was formula fed as a baby, and I turned out ok. It's just that knowingly/purposefully doing something that is "second-best" for your child can really make you second guess yourself. Am I trying hard enough? Am I just being a huge baby? Am I being selfish?

On the other side of the coin... Maybe I would be a better mom if I wasn't stressed out and unhappy every time my child was hungry? Maybe I could be more nurturing during feedings? Maybe Henry would have the fun, pleasant Lauren as a mom instead of crazy-ass, losing control Lauren? I sure as hell know I could sleep more, and be more emotionally available. Currently, 90% of my thoughts are focused on boob pain, when they should be focused on enjoying this fleeting time with our baby.

I went to HEB today. I bought some formula. We haven't opened it yet. Bad days are not the time to make big decisions, so I am holding off for now. I am considering trying to both breastfeed and formula feed. That way, Henry will still get the benefits of breastmilk, and I will get the benefits of a mental, pain-free break.

Let me remind everyone that breastfeeding is absolutely ideal for your baby's health and has a ton of benefits for mom, too. From the 9 million hours I have spent on the internet researching how to make this all better, I have learned that I am in a small minority of people that have this unsolvable pain issue. More importantly, I accepted the notion that you have to take care of yourself to be a good mom. I thoroughly rejected this thought before now. I strongly felt that you have to do what is always best for your baby, no matter what. Well, now I am realizing sometimes what is best is a middle-of-the-road combination of the baby's needs AND your needs.

A dramatic photo montage demonstrating what breastfeeding has been like so far...


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