Okay, so it isn’t much of a secret when I throw it up on a blog for hundreds of people to read. But seriously.
In an attempt to reverse the trend of only formula feeding American infants, a lot of pro-breastfeeding literature has been released in the last few decades. That’s not a bad thing, of course. We know that breastmilk has components formula can’t even come close to imitating, it passes on antibodies, it may reduce the risk of SIDS, childhood obesity, asthma, diabetes, allergies, and probably makes your kids close to immortal at that rate. There has been plenty of literature that talks up the benefits for mothers, too. It might help with postpartum weight loss (your mileage may vary), it may reduce the risk of breast cancer later in life, and the one thing I always always ALWAYS see is that since breastfeeding releases oxytocin, it promotes bonding and the mother will feel wonderful close feelings of love and nurture towards her beloved precious child.
But honestly I just don’t feel much when I nurse. It’s been that way with both my children. The baby starts to fuss. I start to nurse. Baby happily gulps away. I look down and think, “Aw, how cute” for a whopping three seconds and then I’m bored. Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. It’s just that, well, what do I do for the next fifteen minutes while nursing? If I close my eyes my body will go, “OH IT IS TIME TO CATCH UP ON SLEEP” and I will pass out (this has happened during 3am feedings and I wake up slumped over, terrified that I have smushed my baby but all has been well so far). So, on goes the TV to watch reruns of Downton Abbey (Matthew Crawley looks like my husband, seriously) or out comes the tablet to browse more crap on amazon.com that I really don’t need but oops I happened to press “add to cart” anyway.
Admitting that I find nursing kind of boring is a catalyst for the apocalypse, according to some people. I have been told by relatives that I’m abnormal. An anomaly. That I “should” be overwhelmed by feelings of love and preciousness every time I nurse. Let me just say that at 5am, when I hear my baby start fussing for the fourth time after only falling asleep at 12am, the first thoughts that cross my mind as I drag myself out of bed to nurse are NOT “Oh, my precious little lovebug is hungry again. Let me smile down lovingly at this tiny miracle as I nourish him with my body.” No, it’s more along the lines of words I can’t publish publicly on this blog.
But that being said, I firmly believe you can nurse even if you’re not thrilled about it. I nursed my eldest child for 19 months, which is really kind of a long time considering I wasn’t in love with the idea. She never had a drop of formula, although I pumped a lot and had my husband bottle feed her in the evenings to give me a break from nursing. She self-weaned when I was 4 months pregnant, so she probably would have nursed a bit longer if hadn’t been pregnant. And there is nothing wrong with stopping if it’s driving you insane. Children need mentally healthy parents and I don’t think nursing is worth it if you feel like stabbing your brain out every time you nurse. Formula, despite what some extremists online may say, is not actually Pure Bottled Evil. It’s food for your kid and how can you hate on someone who’s properly feeding their child and keeping their sanity while doing so?
My second child is currently around 3 months old. I have nursed him so far and will for the foreseeable future, but how long will that last? As long as new seasons of Downton Abbey are aired (Kidding. I’m also marathoning through all 7 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer right now). Just know that if you’re a woman who’s not totally in love with nursing your kids, but reluctantly do it anyway—you’re not alone. Come watch TV with me.