Breastfeeding Sucks.

We never had a problem getting her to latch.   There was never an issue with supply.

The girl has been crazy for boobie since I squeezed her out my lady bits, and I’ve hated {almost} every second of it.   Not at first.   When she was first born and they handed her to me and she started rooting I wanted to feed her so badly I could almost taste it.   It was the strangest thing.   I had secretly been really creeped out by the idea of breastfeeding, so I didn’t expect to find myself so primordially driven to nurse.    My big sister had warned me that the early weeks would be difficult, that by day four or five I might prefer to take a blow-torch to my nipples than let that kid anywhere near them, so I was moderately prepared for the pain and soreness (oh yeah…there’s pain and soreness if you haven’t heard.   Like a tiny little indian burn on your areola over and over again.)   I’d read up a million ways breastfeeding could go wrong, and I was all but certain that I’d have to leap every single one of those hurdles on the road to success.   I dealt with none of them.   My boobs were soldiers.

But MAN have I loathed nursing.   Yeah yeah…postpartum depression. I know.   That’s part of it for sure…but my relationship with breastfeeding has always been quite complicated and I think that’s probably true for a lot of women.   {All of this “miracle of life” business they pitch you…it can be misleading, man.}

In the beginning it thrilled me to see Dee go all shark-week while she looked for her latch.  {We used to call her the angry boobie shark, and chuckle as she went from frantic milk-fiend to sweet satiated baby in sixty seconds or less.} I’d watch her nurse, her beautiful little face so relaxed, eyes shut tight, humming as she gulped, little fists cocked back at the ready like she was going to sock anyone who tried to come in between her and that boobie… And I would just marvel that this was my baby.  This perfect creature.   I made her.

Except that the perfect little creature that I made?   She had quite the appetite.  She could nurse all night.   And all day.   Forty five minute nursing sessions.   Then an hour and a half.    In the early days, when I was following Pediatrician instructions to nurse her every 2 hours, It wasn’t uncommon for our nursing sessions to bleed right into each other with not much more than a bathroom break for me in between.

That was the first thing I started to hate.   I didn’t want to do it.   I’d dread it.   She’d start to root, and I’d start to sweat.   Scott would hold her while she would fuss and whine (she was never a screamer really, just this funky little laugh/cry) as I ran around the house like a maniac trying to collect anything I might need while I was stuck camped out on the couch for the next hour/twelve.   Trying to just do that one last thing, answer that one email, write that one blog post, take that one shower, eat that one meal before I would be held captive for hours on end by my suckling new born.  Sometimes, in the mornings, I’d wake up so dehydrated I’d be dizzy when I stood up.

3 days shy of a year, Delilah’s been exclusively boob fed.  {Wait, she eats food and drinks water.  Can I still say “exclusively?”  I guess not.}

Breastfeeding is hard.   It’s really, really, really hard.   I wasn’t in a mental place to take proper care of myself, and as a result, it was torture on my body.   It still is.   I still have to work to keep up calorically with what she demands my body produce.   I’ve lost 50 pounds.  {Don’t get too excited, I gained almost 80 while pregnant, I didn’t drop a single pound for the first four months, it was easily 30 lbs of water weight, and I’ve worked my ass off beyond breastfeeding, but that’s another post for another time.}  I hate having my breasts touched [sorry every dude that I know who made it this far into the post and just groaned] because it immediately causes let-down.   I hate how my boobs look after she’s drained them.  [I’d apologize again, but if you kept reading after that last one, it’s no one’s fault but your own.]   I can’t wait to get my body back, let alone my bazooms, and still I feel like I’ve run a marathon, & although I’m broken and bleeding, I’ve reached the finish line, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.  I’ve wanted to quit so many times over the past twelve months, I can’t even tell you.   But every time I’d think about it, I’d look down at my happy baby boobie shark, and I’d think of all the time her Mama spent lying on the couch instead of playing with her, and I just couldn’t take away that one thing she loved so much.   That one thing that I’d decided to do for my child before I got lost in the abyss, when I was still thinking clearly.  That one thing that made her more connected to me than any body else, no matter how lost I felt.   And I did.   I did do it.   In spite of everything.

It’s a whole big bloody mess of feelings, really.   Love/hate doesn’t do it justice.   I can spend all day raging about how much I hate every second of it, but I’ll still relish the moments in the early moonlight of Dee’s nursery where we spend a few quiet moments together before she goes to sleep.   She never cries.   She always hums.   I don’t know what I’ll do when we lose that.

But then on the flipside, breastfeeding has sometimes felt like a barrier between us.   Like…she’s obsessed with my ladies.   Like, I might as well not even exist otherwise half the time.   Like, SERIOUSLY DELILAH MY EYES ARE UP HERE.    It’s upsetting sometimes.   I’ll come home and she’s happily playing on the floor with Scott, or my Mom, or my Mother-In-Law, and the second she sees me, she goes buck wild for boobie.  There have been times when I’ve felt that it prevents us from really getting to enjoy our time together.

And I have another problem.   I have no idea how to wean this girl.   Remember how I mentioned “when I was following Pediatrician instructions to feed every two hours?”   I was inferring that “scheduled” feeding didn’t last long.   We fell into a baby-led schedule pretty quickly, and there we’ve stayed.   When we started solids, we did a weird combination of practices (I’m a go with the flow-er, can you tell?) and as a result, none of the books or resources I’ve read seem to apply to me.   How do you cut down on one daily feeding when your kid feeds an infinite number of times a day?   How do you slowly take it away from a girl who is trying to tear your shirt off and will do cartwheels on top of you to finagle her way to your nip, and will wiggle and wriggle and fuss, and yes even sometimes SCREAM if you tell her no?   When I’m sleeping, she no longer requires my assistance to find what she’s looking for.   On Friday she’ll be one year old.   I’ve met my commitment, but I have no idea how to end it.

Yesterday morning I was at my wits’ end.   Finally, bleeding from my boob {where the beast-girl had scratched me in yet another wild-grab for tittie} I bought some organic whole milk.   Put it in her sippy cup.   She acted like she’d gotten a mouthful of turpentine.   And she shrieked and screamed and crowed and cried until I unsheathed a boob.   {I’m surprisingly powerless against her.}    By last night I had Scott for backup, and I was able to get her to calm down boob-free, but only for a few minutes at a time before she’d remember she’d been denied her beloved boobie juice and would lose her mind all over again.   It broke my heart.  And when I watched her look for something to distract herself with between bouts of meltdown, I couldn’t help but feel a tiny twinge of something like breaking up.   The faint, pit-of-your-stomach-nausea that comes with total done-ness.   Before we went to bed I cried, which shocked me, because I’ve been looking forward to this moment for so long.   I don’t know what to do.   I don’t know how to do it.   And I don’t know how to say goodbye to this time in our lives, despite the rollercoaster that it’s been.

{Wow.  And that’s what happens when you try to sum up eleven months of feelings in a single post.  You should probably treat yourself to a stiff drink if you made it this far.}  {Also, advice is welcome.   Seriously, I am at a total loss about how to do this.}

[disclaimer:  I know that the grass is always greener, especially when we’re talking about breastfeeding.  This account of my experience is in no way meant as a commentary on your experience, be it positive or negative.  And also, aren’t I such a wimp that I can’t just post this without being all: “please don’t get mad at me, you guys?” I should probably make a note to discuss that in therapy…]

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UPDATE:

For those of you who don’t read the comments, I wanted to share what Bettina Forbes from BestforBabes.org left on this post ~

As I said to Bettina, it may seem crazy ~ but it literally never occurred to me that nursing too well could be a solvable problem.   It’s too late for me, but ladies, if your kid is nursing around the clock like Dee did, maybe there is hope yet.  { And follow Bettina on twitter – she’s an incredible resource for BFing Moms.}

Feed Me Seymour