I am about to confess something that I very rarely ever do.
My eldest, who is about to turn 13, was not breastfed for 2 years. My younger son, who is 6, was.
Usually when I talk about it, the assumption is that the oldest was, also and I admittedly just let people think so.
It’s stupid, but, my breastfeeding relationship with my kids is a pride point for me. The assumption that my oldest was, ends now. Because I think it’s important that people know why.
Breastfeeding, in spite of what many Sanctimommies will try to shove down your throat, is not always sunshine and lollipops. Even when it is, it’s hard work that requires effort and sacrifices.
The difference between the two was my access to knowledge and information, coupled with the sheer terror that only breastfeeding mothers really know. Am I feeding my baby enough? Which, no matter how hard you try not to, will inevitably translate to Am I a failure as a mother?
This is why, though I do agree with many points made by the more vehement among us, I will be twice the asshole to someone being a jerk about it to a formula feeding mother than I am to a formula feeding mother who I might think is doing so for ill informed or “lazy” reasons. (Actually, for me, “I don’t want to” is plenty valid.)
I got hit with something horrifying and all too common with my eldest. I did not know it was common, back then.
Two words, which strike fear into the hearts of all who know them: Growth spurt.
I thought, given I am going through my third trip the light OMGHELPMEPLEEEEEEASE Not so Fantastic, I’d talk about it a little.
Imagine you are bipping along, a new mom. You have maybe hit a few little snags here and there, but ultimately, you’ve averted sore nipples, you’ve learned all about lanolin and things seem to be going pretty well. Maybe you don’t realize that your baby’s diapers tell the truth about how well you’re doing, but his or her weight is steadily on the rise, so you know that’s good.
Right when you think you are truly in the swing of things, something happens. Baby changes. Grouchy to the extreme. Fussing. Wants to nurse like he or she is sucking your very soul from your nipples. Your boobs hurt a bit. Sometimes, it feels like the baby may suck the skin off, because that’s all that’s left, there. You start to think fondly on engorgement- this is how bad it is, because the entire time, all you can think is, “If baby’s behaving this way- he or she must be starving!”
Because it really seems that way.
Maybe you’re like I was. A scared shitless 20 year old first time mom who has no idea about resources like KellyMom.com or their diaper chart which will in fact, let you know how many your baby should be putting out, combined with adequate weight gain. More than likely, your baby is fine- but you don’t know that.
And you do what I did, because you don’t know that your baby is actually doing something. He or she is actually kick starting your body to do something, as well. You don’t know that baby’s actually making your body make more milk, even though it might not seem so. You may not know that breastmilk is digested more quickly than formula would be: which is why your well meaning loved ones or friends may suggest formula- because they think baby is starving, when in fact- he or she isn’t. So, when the growth spurt smacks you in the face, you think you need to supplement which causes a vicious thing to happen: supply and demand is how breastfeeding works. When baby is getting filled up on formula: he or she isn’t telling your body to make more milk. So, it doesn’t. The amount decreases, so you increase the amount of formula you feed. Which, is why I didn’t breastfeed my eldest longer. I just didn’t know.
Cue my second son. I had tons of resources, friends and support. Thank god for it, too, because Aidan’s growth spurt was something right out of a senobite’s wet dream. I thought I would lose my mind, but now I knew what I was up against.
Knowledge is power, but it sure isn’t sleep or unsore, untouched out boobs.
Made it through that, though and boy, I thought I knew it all.
Here’s my youngest, Thomas. Here’s what we do. All the time.
Now, Aidan was an overnight terror. Balls out overnight hell in growth spurts.
Thomas….he started with something known as “six o’clock syndrome”. Only, six o clock syndrome for us goes from about 4 til about 9 pm. Some nights, he may stay up, but usually, if he gets a bottle of expressed breast milk, he’ll zonk out earlier than 3 or 4 in the morning. Unfortunately, I did a bad, bad thing in that. I never should have started feeding him from the freezer stash. Now my body says, “Oh, kiddo doesn’t eat as much in the evening.” When in fact…kiddo likes to eat MORE.
We ran right through that freezer stash, so now I am back at square one. Feed. Pump. Feed. Pump. Feed. Pump.
It’s a busy life that pretty much revolves around my cans.
Fortunately, I am no longer Miss Scared 20 Year Old First Time Mom, and I know that the bajillion diapers we wash every day say he’s fine. And I will not give up, because I just don’t- and trust me, Aidan’s growth spurt was definitely trial by fire on that front. However, lately, though it seems all I do is sit on my butt, I am generally quite pressed for time. And feeling a bit like the dog you see trying desperately to come out of the nest box with a litter of pups just hanging from her teets.
But, it’s worth it.