When we were gearing up to be parents for the first time, I went into a research vortex to find out as much as I could: sleeping, schedules, nannies, eating, wearing, delivery. In a lot of ways, I felt way over-prepared; in others, woefully unprepared. One thing that I was committed to whole-heartedly was figuring out how breastfeeding works… especially when I’m stubborn as all get out.
Let me be 100% honest here: I absorbed almost everything I could about breastfeeding because I read all of the benefits: neurological, immunological, physiological, etc. A lot of super crunchy moms were extolling the virtues of how breastfeeding works and benefits baby. And I personally made it my mission to give my baby the absolute best from the get go no matter what… because I had come to believe that I wasn’t as good of a mom if I didn’t breastfeed my baby.
So what happened? I got stubborn. So stubborn. Even more so than I am now!
If I were 100% honest, I went into our breastfeeding journey full-force like nothing else. It was hard to even come up for air. So I want to share my story because maybe you’ll see something of yourself in here, and maybe you’ll be able to give yourself a little more grace (more than I ever could).
1. Numbers Obsessed
When we came home with my daughter, I was obsessed with how breastfeeding works with timing. Once I figured out that she nursed every 90 minutes, I vigilantly watched the clock. I calculated how long we could be out or how far away I could get away from the car before having to run back for a nursing session in the backseat (read: I was not comfortable nursing in public at that time).
I was not a lot of fun on weekends because I refused to leave the house because she might need to nurse.
Once I transitioned back to work, I was focused on how breastfeeding works once baby relies on a bottle more and more. I scheduled my breaks into my work calendar so I could go pump. I dutifully watched how much milk I produced and cringed when I was even a half ounce below what I did the same time yesterday.
In short, I was way not fun during this time.
2. Supplements Obsessed
During my pumping sessions, I would get on Pinterest and search for ways to up my milk production. I got super discouraged when I would read these wonder stories of moms who had thousands of ounces stored away in their deep freezer, never mind that the average woman pumps a fraction of that. I was convinced that I was a less-than-mom because I obviously wasn’t trying hard enough to have a good freezer stash,
So I started wondering how breastfeeding works on supplements. I tried every concoction of oatmeal or lactation muffin I could think of. I popped fenugreek, vitamin D3, alfalfa, practically anything that would boost my production by a fraction of an ounce.
I haven’t done the cost analysis because I’m honestly a little worried to see how much I relied on supplements during this time.
3. Shame Obsessed
I think this one is probably the hardest one to admit to when I think about how breastfeeding works… especially when you’re stubborn. We all talk a good game about the Mommy Wars and ending Mommy Shaming, but let me be clear: I felt so much shame while I was breastfeeding. Don’t get me wrong – I loved it when it was a pleasant experience between me and both of my kids.
But good gracious it was so freaking hard and shameful.
I felt shame because I returned to work and wasn’t nursing my children directly. I felt shame because I stepped away from my desk 3 times a day for 15-20 minutes at a time to pump. I felt shame that I didn’t even consider giving myself a break and allowing formula to enter my vernacular in a way that wasn’t “no formula ever.” Here was this beautiful experience that some women feel transcendent towards… and then there was me.
Friends, if I may be so bold, I really wish I had cut myself some slack. I wish I could’ve given myself permission to make different choices… but that was how breastfeeding works when you’re stubborn. It’s tied up with numbers and emotions and a little bitty baby that thinks the sun rises and sets in you… no matter how you feed them.
What questions, concerns, or stories do you have? Share them below!