My in laws have my children and my husband is at his band party celebrating finishing recording their cd. I just returned from my MN best friend’s house where her husband and I finished 2 1/2 bottles of wine between us (she’s pregnant and didn’t partake). The number 1 reason I left, besides being tired, is the fact that I thought my right breast was going to explode from engorgement. In fact, one time in the bathroom, it sort of did. I can’t recall how long its been. I had pumped in the morning before I left and fed her on my left side before she went to my in laws. She had bottles during the day while we were out and about so it had been quite some time.
The pain is overwhelming. The fullness. The hardness. Despite the fact that its midnight and I want nothing more than to fall down upon my bed and sleep, I can’t. I have to pump. I have to get this milk out. And again in the morning and then all day tomorrow and then six more months before I can stop. And I have to say, I hate it.
I hate nursing and pumping. I hate all of it. Yes, there are certainly moments, especially in the middle of the night, oddly enough, when I look at Bella’s sleepy face sucking away and then when she pulls off and falls asleep and I have these few seconds of cuddles with her (which happens so rarely, she’s not a cuddler) that I love it. But the fact that I can’t enjoy an evening with my friends because I need to pump? Or the fact that I can’t go to sleep when I’m exhausted? Or that I need to wake up 20 minutes earlier for work to pump? No, I don’t love any of that.
I didn’t love those two weeks with Bear when I tried to nurse and it was the most excruciating awful experience and I would sob throughout it. I didn’t enjoy the fact that I genuinely hated him in those first weeks because of the pain he caused me, what he did to my body, my youth, the fact that all my friends left (where they really friends if all we had in common was drinking?) No, I didn’t. Yet I did it anyway. I couldn’t nurse him because it was too painful, so I pumped. I pumped twelve whole months for him. I can’t not do the same for my daughter. How could I say, “your brother was good enough for breastmilk, but you. Eh. I gave you formula. ” I could never. I would never.
I have to say, I judge. I 100% judge people who don’t breastfeed. I try not to. I try to understand that some people can’t or don’t want to. The martyr in me thinks, “I didn’t want to do it, I hated it, but I didn’t it anyway, why didn’t you?” I hate being judgmental but its true. There’s no denying that its the best thing for your child, its what nature and God intended. Not some manufactured powder made by companies trying to make a profit, that’s occasionally recalled because of insect infiltration. So why wouldn’t you? I see why people don’t. I don’t want to, but I do. I couldn’t bear the guilt I would feel if I didn’t. I almost envy those who somehow disregard the science, the occasional judgments, the lactivists, their children, and do what’s best for them. Maybe that’s really why I judge them. Jealousy. That they had the courage to do what’s best for them despite what’s best for their children.
Breastfeeding is hardly black and white. It’s all shades of gray. It’s an extremely hot topic issue, because its so deeply personal. But as I sit here pumping, 15 minutes of sleep that I’ve already missed out on I kind of wish we could all be more open about it. That we could talk about how hard it is, how tiring and time consuming pumping is because then maybe it would be slightly easier.
I know I don’t want to, but I’m going to do this for 6 more months. And then when my next child is born. 12 more months. Hopefully the next one will be as easy to nurse as Bella without the pain and agony Bear and I had. Better yet, maybe by then I won’t find it to be such an overwhelming burden I must bear.
Disclaimer: I am in no way still intoxicated, after all I did drive home. I do know all of the dangers of feeding a child breastmilk with alcohol and the concept of “pump and dump.” Have no fear, my milk is clear.