Inside: Unable breastfeed for some reason? Know you’re not alone in this journey! Banish the overwhelm of getting ready for baby with this guide.
Enough was enough.
I was torturing myself.
My mind whispered it wasn’t a big deal, but my emotions were screaming in protest. I couldn’t appease both sides of myself.
I only wanted the best for my baby. But at what cost?
You hear it all the time: “breast is best”. And to be honest I agree. As mothers our bodies produce milk for our babies; how could it not be the best food for them? It’s tailored to their specific needs.
I struggled with low milk supply with my first son and scrambled to try everything I could to produce more milk. I did increase my supply but it didn’t solve all our problems. But I did “the right thing” and stuck it out. I nursed him for an entire year before weaning because I wanted to do the best I could for him.
And then my second son was born.
I thought I knew what to expect. I had learned about several resources to increase milk supply and I thought I would have a head start. And it was true; I did have a head start, but it wasn’t enough.
Like my first, my second baby was a ravenous beast. I couldn’t keep up with all the feedings. It was physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Not to mention painful.
I would dread every time I had to feed him. Instead of feeling connected and peaceful while I was nursing, I felt pain, anger and resentment. This wasn’t what everyone said it was like. Nursing was a wonderful experience; A sweet bonding time between mother and child. But this was not my experience.
How The “Breast is Best” Mentality Tore Me Apart
My mind couldn’t wrap itself around the fact that my expectations and my reality were so conflicting. I would cry, tell my husband I couldn’t do it anymore and then resolve to wean him. But then the guilt set it.
What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t give my child the best?
The answer was clear to me; a terrible one. And I couldn’t live with that. Not only because of my innate desire to do the best for him, but also because of my fear of judgement from other moms.
So what did I do?
Nothing. I continued to nurse and lived with these torturous thoughts for months.
My husband pleaded with me to stop nursing. My mom asked me to consider weaning. And I wanted to with every fiber of my being! But my pride wouldn’t allow it.
And because of my decision my family suffered. I had changed. I had turned into an obsessed, anxious, sad shell who I used to be. No one was happy with the change, including myself. But for some reason I couldn’t wean him.
After several months of these feelings and countless requests from my husband to supplement our baby with formula I broke down and agreed to it. My only stipulation was the use of homemade formula. My distraught husband conceded and immediately took on the responsibility of full-time formula maker.
Life got better a little bit at a time. I had more time to enjoy my baby outside of feedings and I felt less resentment.
But it didn’t take away all the guilt.
I never wanted to bring the baby bottles out with us in public because I feared the other moms’ silent judgments. It was like I was hiding some deep, dark secret within the walls of our home.
It went on until I succumbed to fully weaning him at 8 months. It was terrible and glorious all at once! I was now free of this heavy burden that threatened to crush my emotional state day after day. But at the same time I was taking away a part of our relationship that we would never have again. It ripped my heart apart.
Now, almost a year later, I look back at myself and just say WHY? Why couldn’t you realize that your baby’s life was worse, instead of better? Why couldn’t you see that your decision was affecting the entire family in a negative way?
Hindsight is 20/20. In my mind I needed to do what was best for my baby and I had blinders on. I only focused on the “breast is best” mentality and I let everything else crumble away.
So to you I say, look around yourself! Don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Don’t spend a year of your life miserable. Don’t make you family pay for your stubbornness.
You are not alone. You are strong. You can see the big picture. You and your family will benefit most by having a happy, thriving mom who takes care of herself before the rest of the family and ignores all the guilt. I know it now. And I know it’s hard, but you can do it.