Okay, let’s talk breastfeeding. I’m putting it out there: I hated it. I know it’s wonderful, I know it’s natural, and I know it’s free. I know it’s good for my body and great for yours, which is why I tried my damnedest to do it. I still hated it. Or maybe, it hated me.
Kitten, I breastfed you for 3.5 months. I had an allergic reaction to something going on in my body related to the breastfeeding – hormones? We never did figure it out. I had a shoulders to ankles rash the entire time I nursed you – think shingles. It itched like mad. When I wasn’t up at night with you, I was up scratching. I was on and off steroids the whole 3.5 months which can’t have been great for either of us. The moment my milk dried up, the rash went away. Sweet relief! So, I’m sorry, but as glad as I am I was able to breastfeed you at least a little, I was really glad when it was over.
Buddy, I was wary of breastfeeding when you came along, but I was determined to make a go of it. This time – no rash! Of course, that may have been because my milk never got a chance to draw down. You wouldn’t drink! You had a perfect latch, but instead of drinking you just laid there and CHEWED. By day 5 my nipples were sore and scabbed – scabbed! The thought of nursing you made me burst in to tears, it was so painful. We went to my doctor who gave me ‘the talk’. “It’s more important for him to drink something than for him to continue to not drink breast milk”, “You are not a bad mother if you can’t breastfeed”, “Formula will not make him stupid”, “Plenty of strong, smart people were formula-fed”. I cried anyway. I felt like a failure.
I was sent home with an ointment for my boobs and a recommendation for a formula for newborns. We went to the store for the formula we previously weren’t intending on needing for months. Picking up a canister, I read the label and there, big and bold on the can, it said, “Breast is Best!” I lost it again. “Even the can is telling me I’m a bad mother!” and I stood in the diaper aisle and wept.
So, yes, I know that breast is best. I know that breastfeeding is wonderful; the best stuff on earth. I encourage all moms to do it as long as they can. Do it at home, at work, in public – do it whenever and wherever you want. Just, please, do NOT look down at the mom shaking up a bottle of formula for her baby. Remember that, as much as they may want to, some moms aren’t able to give that gift to their children. Be kind.