To date, I haven't mentioned any of this here. It's a very painful topic for me. Anyone who knows me, or has been reading my blog for any amount of time knows that I see breastfeeding as a black and white issue.
With Baby Boy, I tried pumping a couple of times but he refused to take a bottle. As XH put it, "It was like the bottle offended him." Rightfully so. As a result, BB and I were inseparable for his first year of life. When I returned to work at the one year mark, we continued nursing in the evenings and over night.
I/we decided that I/we wanted to have our babies close together. After several months of trying to conceive without success, I went to the LLL website to see if there was anything I could do to make my reproductive cycle begin again. I learned there that overnight nursing is one of the things that can prevent your cycle from returning, so at 14 months I weaned BB during the overnight period as well, and we were just nursing in the evening at this point. I continued to have negative tests, so at 15 months I decided to wean him entirely. It was a difficult decision, but I recall our last few nursing sessions were a bit of a bust anyway. He'd latch on, then pull off with dramatic effect, run around the room giggling, and then would repeat the process. He and I breastfed for the last time on a Thursday, and on Saturday I had my positive test. I was five weeks pregnant - giving up the overnight nursings did the trick.
Fast forward almost eight months to BG's arrival. Life was no longer the same. My belief that breastfeeding is the only option for my darling baby girl still held true. And for over seven months I was there without question. There were a few occasions early on where I did pump and had either my mother or XH bottle feed her, but she only accepted the bottle once or twice. Aside from those few attempts, I have been here for her. 24/7.
I have to say, doing it this time around has been easier yet harder. BG's crib has been next to my bed, just like BB's was; however, BG actually sleeps in bed with me. BB didn't get to do that because the bed was cramped and I was worried that XH might roll over on to him and not realize it because he had too much to drink. (Sorry, XH. I know you're reading this.) Having the bed all to ourselves has been great for BG and me. I haven't had to worry about whether we're keeping someone up who has to be able to function for work the next day. If I get uncomfortable, I can switch to the other side of the bed. All this has made night time nursing much easier.
But around a month ago, I started questioning my ability to continue. Sure, some things have been easier this time around. Other things though, not so much. Breastfeeding without the support of a partner isn't easy. There is no relief. I'm surrounded by people who say, "Go ahead and give her a bottle. You deserve some freedom." "I gave you formula and you turned out okay." (Actually, no I didn't. I was plagued with allergies and asthma as a child and into my early adult life.) "Lots of babies get formula and they grow up to be healthy."
I've been feeling caged and trapped. There is no one that I can truly lean on (or that I'm comfortable leaning on in that way.) No one who loves me in that supportive way. (Ironic that I've phrased it that way, since apparently XH didn't love me when BB was an infant... but even so, he was here.) There seems to be no one on the sidelines cheering me on in a way that is meaningful to me. (Here come the tears.) I love BG so much, and in even considering supplementing her with formula so I can "get out of the house" makes me feel like a terrible mother. I've judged other mothers for less. I've judged them harshly. If there's one thing I've learned over all of my experiences of the past year, I really need to turn off that judging voice inside of my head. Until I've walked in someone else's shoes, I have no right to judge them or their decisions.
No, I haven't broken down and bought formula... yet. I've looked at it and marveled at the cost. I've tried pumping a few times to see if maybe I could stock-pile some milk for times that I "need" to escape (saying need here sounds so effing selfish) but I get next to nothing when I pump. There are too many distractions and I'm too stressed out over it all... and that ridiculous machine pulling and tugging at my breasts can't replicate BG's natural suckling rhythm.
Until now, breastfeeding has always seemed so simple, effortless, and natural...
I am failing my beautiful baby girl. As her mother, the person who is supposed to be her biggest champion, I feel like I am all ready letting her down. For what? My reasons are not noble. I want to be able to go out on dates and not be constantly checking my watch to see if it might be close to BG's next feeding. I expect that people who have never experienced this situation are probably thinking, "Why can't she just wait a few more months?! Before she knows it her baby will be older and will no longer be nursing." But over the past year of trying to do the right things for everyone in my life, I feel as if I'm becoming a martyr.... I've worked so hard to keep a good relationship with my ex-inlaws, to make this situation with XH work, to show H how a real friend acts while wishing for so much more than just friendship with him, to keep my temper in check with my parents when there are times that I just want to blow up at them, all the while being loving and nurturing to BB and BG. It's all starting to feel like it's too much for me to handle. Something has to give because I feel like the flame within me is starting to flicker.
I feel selfish, and at the moment, I feel unworthy of the love beneath this roof. I realize that this statement isn't true... it's just how I feel right now. I'm embarrassed about all of this.