Why I am Relieved World Breastfeeding Week is Over

I swear I started writing this during World Breastfeeding Week, but for a variety of reasons didn’t finish. I debated whether to even post this, being that we’ve likely reached our limit on boobie stories. But then I thought, everyone has a different experience with feeding their newborn, and as much as you may have read or heard, you don’t know my story. Maybe you can relate, maybe not. Regardless, I am one of the millions (billions?) of women that have an experience with, and an opinion on breast feeding. So alas, my (late) post on World Breastfeeding Week.

 First of all, when I found out it was World Breast Feeding Week, I cringed. And that reaction surprised me. Wasn’t I confident in my decision to stop breast feeding after 8 weeks? Apparently I wasn’t. Of all the articles, blog posts, TV bits on the subject, the overall message I received was “Breast is best; however breast feeding is not always feasible, and in that case, whatever works best for mother and baby is best.” This is a wonderful, supportive message. And yet. And yet I still feel guilty.

 I breast fed both of my sons until they were about 8 weeks old and then stopped. I didn’t have any valid medical reason that would fall into the “not feasible” (and therefore forgivable) category. My reasons were basically selfish. I stopped because:

 

  • I had issues with the method. When I was nursing I was never sure they were getting enough. So I pumped. And hated it.   With my first son I had one of those horrible, loud, electric torture devices resembling some awful farm equipment milking machine. With my second son I used a manual pump that took FOR…EV…ER.

 

  • It wasn’t convenient. I went back to work and didn’t want the hassle of pumping at work.

 

  • I wanted my body back. I just spent 9 months scrutinizing every thing I did and every little thing I ate and drank.  I didn’t want to do that anymore.

 

  • I started to resent the fact that my heavy, leaking breasts woke me up in the middle of the night, and I had to drag myself out of an oh-so-rare and oh-so-precious slumber to pump.

 

  • I didn’t like it.

 

 When I tell people I stopped breast feeding and they flatly reply “Oh.”, I feel the unspoken label being assigned to me in blatant flashing lights: “S E L F I S H”.   And I respond naturally by silently chastising myself for the ten thousandth time. Is the judgment all in my head? A self-imposed punishment if you will? Maybe to some degree. Maybe not.

 My boys are both healthy and happy, and we have plenty of loving, cuddling, bonding moments, albeit not associated with my breasts. Rationally I know they aren’t “missing” anything by not getting breast milk past their 2nd month of life. But when I hear stories of mothers who calm their inconsolable  infants with that special thing only she can provide, and mothers who breast feed their toddlers to lull them to sleep, I can’t help but wish I did things differently. After all, breast is best. Right?

 While writing this has been somewhat cathartic, and I am part of a community of wonderful women who I doubt are labeling me as harshly as they do in my head, I will always carry some amount of guilt for not persevering.

 That is my story and that is why I am relieved World Breast Feeding Week is over and we have moved on to Shark Week.

13 thoughts on “Why I am Relieved World Breastfeeding Week is Over

  1. Thank you for posting this. I stopped nursing my younger son at 6 months because I had to be on a dairy-free diet and just couldn’t do it anymore! I often feel guilty for “stopping early” even though I know I did what was best for all of us in that moment. My husband was incredibly supportive and I’m so thankful for that, even though I often find myself wondering what other moms think of my decision (don’t know why it matters!!!!).

  2. Oh you poor woman, and all the other poor women! This matters NOT AT ALL. The kids don’t remember or care and really, they are the only ones who count. Who cares what other moms think? I hope you can all stop beating yourselves up and get to that point someday. I truly ache for you. Motherhood is macro, not micro. It’s the overall sense of love, safety, trust and support that you’re striving for. As long as they’re not hungry, you’re golden! I ask my adult children all the time if they remember this or that (staying up all night with them when they were sick, reading poignant books they loved over and over, etc.) and the answer is always NO!! So believe me when I say that it is only your stupid neighbor or coworker who may sniff and raise an eyebrow if you stopped after 8 weeks or never started at all. You will never have your child coming to you and saying, “I could have been President, if only you had breastfed me for 3 years!”

  3. You know I’m right there with you on this! I wish there was no judgement about feeding choices, we all make the choices that work for us and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Thank you for your honesty!

  4. Amen. I tried desperately for eight weeks to breastfeed my daughter. Despite my best efforts (fenugreek, oatmeal, cluster feeding, pumping, etc.) I never produced. I had all the support in the world, just no success. The guilt was overwhelming. My body failed me, and I felt I was failing my daughter. All the “good” moms breastfeed, right? Would her IQ be lower? Would her health be poor? Would we continue to bond? These questions haunted me. Once I quit and took a deep breath, the weight lifted from my shoulders, I could finally enjoy my daughter. Looking back now, I wish I would have given up earlier. I could have avoided the stress and focused on the blessing that is Vivian.

  5. omg, I LOVED the last sentence of this post! And Sister, I congratulate you for putting YOU first. That’s the most important thing a Mama can do. Doing something you’re “supposed” to do and resenting it just sucks for everybody. Good for YOU!

  6. Being a parent you are constantly riddled with guilt. It’s the one thing that totally sucks! You have your babies the best start and the decision you made was best for them and best for you. Stand by your decision because no one else on this earth could love your babies the way you do. I did the exact same amount of time as you, I partly gave up due to reflux, but if I’m honest I was mildly relieved to finish as the mid night boob sweats were horrid and I do not miss that one bit. I wish there was as much support out there for mums who decide to bottle or mix feed as there is for Breast feeding mums. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Oh Carly, thank you you so much for this comment. You’re right about no one loving them like I do (oh god, I have tears in my eyes!)

  7. Sharks are far less judgemental than women… 🙂
    Your boys are healthy, happy and well-adjusted.
    Breastfeeding is great.
    A sane mommy is even better.

  8. My breastfeeding experience lasted all of about 8 minutes total so absolutely no judgement here! I’ve never quite understood why people make such a big deal out of it and wish it would stop so that great moms like you wouldn’t have to feel an ounce of guilt over it.

  9. I’m right there with you! No “legitimate” reason that breastfeeding didn’t work. Should I have tried harder? Should I have sacrificed more? Been less “selfish?” Who knows. I feel that I made the best decisions for my family, but why do I still feel bad about it? Blah. We are too hard on ourselves. You’re doing a great job, Mama!

  10. You continue to impress me, lady. You’re one of the most caring and loving mothers I know. The fact that you make decisions that allow you to be sane and happy speaks volumes to how important your children are to you. Not a selfish bone in your body.

  11. Totally agree! I think the breastfeeding PR campaign is important, but it does often come across as anti-formula. I wish there was a campaign saying “There are pros and cons to both; whatever works for you and your child is “best”.

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