I don’t usually write about breastfeeding, but for some reason I feel the need to explain myself. Twice in the past few days I’ve had to tell this story, and I’ve told it many more times before that. It’s much easier to write a blog post than to tell the story over and over again, so I guess that’s why I’m sharing this way. This is how I became a breastfeeding mama . . .
When I was pregnant with my first daughter I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I knew as much about breastfeeding as anyone else in the general population, but like most new mamas I was ambitious and wanted to do ALL the things! First baby, 36 years old, I was beyond excited.
In the months leading up to my daughter’s birth I began hearing the dogma behind breastfeeding. And boy, was it fierce. This was my first encounter with mom friends, and my first thought was women are scary just like in the title of this book I’m reading right now, Women are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends. (By the way this book is hysterical with so much substance, too. I can relate to every word.)
I set out to breastfeed (one year was my goal) and to my surprise it was easy – like very easy. There was a learning curve at the beginning, but compared to most stories I’ve heard it was a piece of cake. I also produced a lot of milk. So much milk that I really should have donated some of it to the children’s hospital or pregnancy care center.
One day when my daughter was a few weeks old I pumped some milk and gave her a bottle just to see if she could do it. It was a test of some sort, and she passed. In my mind I thought “check”, now that I know she can drink from a bottle there’s no need to give her another one until I need to. If you’re familiar with breastfeeding you know that pumping is a pain in the neck. And even if you give a baby formula, you still have to pump. The milk has to go somewhere.
So I didn’t pump anymore milk, and she didn’t drink from any more bottles.
Until the day I wanted to go somewhere and leave her with my husband. She was about three months old. I pumped some milk and left him with a bottle and clear instructions on how to feed her.
Except she wouldn’t drink from the bottle. She screamed and screamed.
Come to find out you have to train a breastfed baby to take a bottle.
“Yes,” our pediatrician said, “you have to give them a bottle a few times a week so they learn how to take it.”
Nice you tell me now.
Needless to say if you know me you know I don’t like my babies to cry. She never drank from a bottle again.
That’s right, she went straight from breastfeeding to sippy cup, and I breastfed her until she was 21 months old. Which means for 21 months my life revolved around my baby – literally. I could never leave her for more than three hours, and I always had to be the one to put her to bed.
Obviously this is not for everyone. Most women have no desire to breastfeed exclusively at all much less for that long. But for me it worked.
You see, I was single for a long time. And I did ALL the things single, too.
I went to fancy restaurants, parties, and social events. I hung out with friends all the time. I had a job during some of that time that allowed me to travel all over the country, not to mention the fun traveling I did with my friends. I served at church leading small groups, serving on committees, and volunteering. I volunteered in the community. I lived it up big, and it was fun. My husband and I joke about how much our lifestyle decreased after we got married despite having two incomes.
When it came time to stay home and breastfeed I was ready. I’m an introvert, too, so by-myself time is my favorite time, and that helped.
Now I have another baby girl. My intention was to train her to take a bottle, but I’m lazy. I don’t like to pump milk. Both types of feeding have positives and negatives, but because breastfeeding is so easy for me the positives outweigh the negatives. So she doesn’t take a bottle either. And for the next several months we’ll be inseparable.
Just this week I had to say no to two friends who asked me to do something at night. I prefaced it in the text with, “I know you’re going to think I’m a fruit-loop, but . . . “. Every time I tell someone I can’t do something because I have to feed my baby I get embarrassed.
I’m not embarrassed because I’m insecure with my decision. I love breastfeeding, am content with saying no to stuff for a season, and know that this phase will pass oh so quickly.
I get embarrassed because I’m afraid people will think I’m “one of those moms.” You know, the ones with really strong opinions about breastfeeding. In reality breastfeeding just kinda fell into my lap. I actually think all the mommy wars are pretty ridiculous. And whenever I get caught up in them I remind myself how ridiculous they are.
So there you have it. That’s how I fell into being a breastfeeding mama.
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