I don’t really like breastfeeding.
There. I said it. It’s out in the open now. I don’t really like it.
But I do it because 1) it’s free 2) it’s best for Baby G and 3) I’m selfish and do want the time alone with him, even if it turns into a big fiasco.
It’s demanding and I don’t even think I have it that bad. A typical day will go like this: 2am feeding, 4 or 5am feeding, 6 or 7am feeding, 9am feeding, 11am feeding, free for all until 5pm for another feeding, 7pm feeding, 9pm feeding. And then it starts again around 2am.
So I usually get about a 4-5 hour stretch at night in which I can sleep. It’s nice! And more than other moms get.
Of course feeding times vary. When Baby G was three weeks old he wanted to be fed every hour to hour and a half. The other night he fed every two hours so I didn’t get the stretch of sleep I anticipated. But overall, feeding has been about every 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
I didn’t start out hating the idea of breastfeeding. Quite the opposite. I had visions of quiet times alone with Baby G. Him peacefully nursing away while I talk quietly to him, admiring his tiny little features, basking in the wonderfulness I have heard breastfeeding is all about. I’ll admit I was looking forward to having an excuse to sneak away for some alone time when we’re at family functions as they can sometimes be overwhelming for me. So what makes me dislike it?
Well, for one, I don’t have a comfortable place to do it, even in my own home. Since we are currently living in a one bedroom condo, we’re sharing a room with Baby G. Or, more specifically, Hubby is sharing a room. I’ve been sleeping on the couch since we brought Baby G home because between Hubby’s snoring and the loud grunts, groans and shrieks Baby G lets out during the night, I can’t sleep in the same room as them. But being in the next room on the couch is no better. I still hear them both.
In an effort to make a little room for baby, we had to give away, sell, and put a lot of our stuff in storage. I had always envisioned my baby having a room of his own (that I got to decorate), complete with one of those comfy gliders. But we’re going on year seven in the condo we were supposed to have sold in five years. Our bedroom is only big enough to keep the mini crib for Baby G to sleep in and our living room big enough for his changing table, swing, and play mat to keep him entertained.
I tried feeding in bed, but I found that sitting up in a chair is much more comfortable. So my feeding sessions are on the couch, propped up against two couch cushions and my pillow, a nursing stool at my feet, and either my Boppy or My Breast Friend on my lap with Baby G. In the living room where I have my lap top and TV — two things I find myself distracted with while I should be concentrating on bonding with Baby G.
In an effort to move my sessions to the bedroom, I bought an outdoor rocking chair that folds flat. I was so excited to bring it home, thinking I could keep it out in the bedroom during the day or when visitors stopped by so I could feed Baby G quietly and more comfortably in private. It’s portable and can be stored away easily. But the chair didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped. While it’s more comfortable for me, it isn’t for Baby G. Gliders tend to have nice padded arm rests; the rocking chair is plastic and isn’t as wide as a rocker. Baby G’s feet kept getting stuck between me and the arm rests which results in a less than peaceful experience. Hubby has offered to buy a rocker glider, but I really like the more open space we have in the living room, despite the additional baby stuff we have. His friend gave us the one his ex-wife used when their child was a baby, and it just took up too much room for my liking. We ended up getting rid of it, although that was because it was covered in cat hair and Hubby is super allergic to cats.
And Baby G, although terrific at getting what he needs, is loud and messy. Sometimes he is too eager and impatient to latch on correctly. I lack patience to try more than a few times. If I can tell he’s getting something I let it go. Nothing he’s done has put me in a lot of pain, my nipples aren’t usually sore, and they haven’t cracked, so I go with it. But 80% of our feeding sessions results in a lot of milk spilling and spraying everywhere. Baby G and I both had to change our clothes three times the other day due to milk dripping out the corner of his mouth, him yanking (yes, yanking) his head away from my boob resulting in milk spraying over the both of us, and my other boob leaking through the nursing pad and my clothes.
My milk let down is also pretty fast. So many times I have felt like I am water boarding my poor little son. Two sucks in and he lets go choking. This is also a reason why we are covered in milk at the end of some sessions. I’ve started expressing a little bit in a burp cloth before and during our nursing sessions to help with that.
Despite all this Baby G is gaining weight — a little more than the average baby in fact. My mom and doctors have commented on “how well I’m doing” breastfeeding. He’s getting the milk, and for that I’m grateful; it is what pushes me to keep at it. So many of my friends have loved the experience but had trouble with milk production and had to stop earlier than they wanted, and I had convinced myself I would too. I have read about so many women who aren’t able to breastfeed for one reason or another and I was scared I wouldn’t be able to either. But here I am, with no trouble making milk, with a baby who gets what he needs, and I’m not really enjoying the experience. I feel bad that I don’t. When else do I truly get Baby G all to myself to enjoy? Especially when I’m going back to work in a few weeks? Sometimes I feel like these precious moments are being wasted on us and I feel guilty.
I also wasn’t aware that these two things would happen when I started breastfeeding:
1) It makes me hungry. Even when I was mostly pumping while Baby G was in the NICU I was hungry all the time. Hubby and I would eat in the cafeteria and I’d go back through a second time. I also find myself wanting to make a meal, not a snack, at 2 in the morning (I resist though, because then I may not get to sleep at all until 10pm the next night and that does nobody in our house any good).
2) It makes me thirsty. I know a lot of that is because I’m not good at drinking the correct fluids during the day. I’ve set myself a goal to drink at least 64oz of water a day. The best I’ve been able to do is 32oz so far. And even that’s a huge accomplishment for me.
These things aren’t terrible, just surprising. Everyone is so quick to say breastfeeding helps you lose weight and there are a hundred reasons why it is best for your baby. No one ever said I’d want to be eating and drinking all the time!
Am I crazy, or are there any other mom’s out there who have found the experience of breastfeeding less than enjoyable? I feel like I’m going to be judged for not finding it as enjoyable as I had anticipated…