The Pregnant & Delusional Reluctant Mother: Breast “Feeding”

Ok. . .I’m just going to blurt it out and so you can start judging immediately should you feel compelled:  I never, never, never. . .not even when I saw my son for the first time and my heart swelled with joy and love. . .wanted to breast feed him.

I KNOW.  I know they say it’s absolutely best for the baby.  I know Dr. Sears and a whole bunch of other (often male?!) “experts” practically demand it be tried.  I know.  I know all the facts.  And I  don’t deny them.  I think breastfeeding is great.  If you want to breast feed – as long as you and the child are comfortable – I give you huge props.

I can’t even exactly explain my reasons for not wanting to breast feed.  I just never felt compelled to do it. . .Never.  Not once.

But lots of people expected that I should. . .

And they had no problem telling me all about it. . .Or telling others all about it. . .

Even my Husband, who apparently drank way too much damned Dr. Sears Kool-Aid, wouldn’t give it a rest.  I respect Sears very much and we have adhered to some of his principles of attachment parenting.  Not all. . .Just what works best for our child.

I figured out a way to shut everyone up – at least temporarily.  I agreed to pump and bottle feed.  I KNOW.  It’s twice the work.  But it allowed me to get some damned peace in those last few months of pregnancy when all I wanted was to be left the hell alone anyway.

A few days before I was scheduled to be induced, I plopped my huge ass down in the nursery and pulled out the breast pump.  I looked at the tubes and plastic cup things and the pump itself in terror and confusion.  I definitely had reservations.  All I kept thinking was how unnatural the whole set up was.  I couldn’t get the image of a dairy cow hooked up to their vacuum powered “milkers” out of my head.  In hindsight, this probably didn’t help while I was actually trying to use the thing a few weeks later.  Whatever.  I can’t help my over-active imagination.

Freaked out, I loaded everything back onto the nursery shelf and waddled back to our bed.  I was actually hoping some of those reportedly militant breast-feeding advocates that roam the halls of the postpartum units at hospitals might offer up some guidance when the time came.

The time came. . .and went. . .

We had this nurse for the second half of my labor and delivery (which is another story that won’t disappoint) that was. . .well, borderline incompetent.  And frankly, we had no idea what the hell we were doing.  We never attended birthing classes.  We didn’t write a “birth plan.”  I trusted the professionals to be professional.

I know the nurse knew I was planning to pump.  The Doctor knew I was going to try.  I know they all knew because every time we discussed it, they admonished me that it wouldn’t work.

Despite Ding-Dong Nurse’s efforts, Mac arrived safely and they tossed him in his little warming drawer.  Half of the medical staff turned their attention to the trauma he inflicted on my lady bits.   And while I was enduring their painful and seemingly never-ending patch job, I looked over to see the Ding-Dong Nurse and my Husband offering the tightly swaddled baby burrito a bottle.

“Ok,”  I think to myself.  “It’s not like he has to learn how to latch or anything.”  And then I’m pretty sure I blacked out momentarily from the pain of whatever they were doing to my nether regions.

Before I knew it, Ding-Dong Nurse was wheeling me and all our junk to another floor of the hospital and it was nearly midnight.  The nurse promised a lactation consult in the morning.

SLEEP.  SLEEP.  Ding-Dong’s back.  SLEEP.  Ding-Dong’s back. . .How does anyone ever get better in a hospital with all the continual interruption?!  Jesus.

SLEEP.  SHOWER.  WATCH SOME CRAPPY TV.  Beg Ding-Dong Nurse to discharge us early.  TAKE PHOTOS OF THE KID.  Ask for an Advil, Ding-Dong Nurse offers me a damned Vicodin (what’s wrong with that woman?!).  The day drug on and on and on. . .

But there was no lactation consult.

Still, I wasn’t too worried.  It didn’t appear my breasts had quite figured out I actually had the baby yet.  I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that sometimes it takes a few days for things to happen so I didn’t say much.

I guess I was just expecting to get up one morning with breast milk spurting out of me like a  fountain at the mall or something. . .

The following day, I was adamant we go home. . .but before we left, I wanted to see a damned lactation consultant.

Honestly? I was really digging the bottle thing at this point.  Mac was perfectly happy, eating well.  I didn’t feel like dairy cattle.  However, I knew in order to shut up a few rather vocal folks in the family, I needed to go through with the lactation consult.

Of course, Ding-Dong Nurse didn’t actually ever schedule a consult.  

When they finally tracked down a consultant, she was clearly in a huge hurry.  She absent-mindedly handed me some literature and circled some times on a little spreadsheet. . .On this sheet I was to record when I pumped (every 2-4 hours) and the liquid measure of the results.

Pfft.  This didn’t look like rocket science.  I could do this.  Milk yourself.  Measure.  Repeat.

We happily head home – where I dutifully pumped every 3 hours.  Of course,  the self-milking never aligned with Mac’s actually needing to eat every two hours. . .which meant I was awake almost constantly.

Me and the milker hung out in the nursery for 15 minutes at a clip.  Sometimes I’m certain I would fall asleep and the milking apparatus would actually fall of sucking nothing but nursery air for half of the time.  Oops.

Meanwhile, EVERYONE was growing concerned.

“Where’s the Milk?”  Everyone started demanding after several days of fruitless milking.  Mother in Law started sending texts to the effect of “We want him to get the antibodies.”  And saying things to other family members like “She’s not breast-feeding, but I try not to judge.”

My desperate Husband brought home a six-pack having heard anecdotal evidence from another couple that for some reason drinking a beer created a virtual breast milk geyser to erupt forth from her bousums.

I stood in the shower for longer and longer time periods – sometimes drinking a beer . . .  Ok.  That was more for my own sanity but still. . .I was trying.   I re-read the breast-feeding Chapters in our parenting books.  I sent poor Chris on a mission for different sized milkers (I think technically they are called breast shields), after determining all the pain I was experiencing was caused by a poor fit.

Something awful was beginning to happen:  Even though I never really had any interest in breast-feeding and I was perfectly okay with offering my Son formula, I allowed certain folks to pressure me so much, I was beginning to feel like a failure.

My time with the milker became even less joyful – if that was possible.  One friend helpfully suggested I go to a new-moms breast-feeding class.  Hmmm. . .Me and 10 other women sitting around – each of them with a newborn at their breast and me with a plastic cone attached to a whooshing vacuum machine. . .No thank you.

Then one day it happened!  I managed to pump about 10 whole drops of milk from one stupid boob.  Yeeeeessssss!  Vindication!  I could pump and bottle feed!  I proudly brought the container to the kitchen where I planned to place it in the refrigerator.  I promptly forgot what I was doing and dumped it down the drain and placed it in the dishwasher along with all the other dirty bottles and dishes.  Oh shit.

And there was no more.  

For three weeks, I tried.  I have never been so frustrated in my life.  I wanted to quit but I was also feeling very stubborn about finally shutting everyone up.

My own Mother, who likely sensed I was starting to unravel, convinced me to give it a rest already. . .and get some rest.   So when the time came for my Husband to return to work, I very delicately mentioned that it would likely be better for us all if I had more sleep and COULD I STOP MILKING MYSELF ALREADY!?

And he agreed.  There was no argument.  There was no outward display of disappointment on his part.  “You tried,” he said gently.

I happily and immediately threw out all my milking apparatus.  I packed up the breast pump hoping to never see it again.

Guess what, Mac is happy and healthy. I certainly do not anticipate my failure to offer up a boob is going to lead him to a life of crime.

I no longer feel frustrated by my failed milking attempts and the topic is seldom discussed these days. . .

However, last evening when I asked my Husband if a friend’s newborn baby girl was sleeping well, he said, “She’s awake every two hours, I’m sure she’s breast-feeding.”

And I’m sure it’s still a little lingering defensiveness on my part, but couldn’t help feeling a little like he was judging me. . .