Home » The Pregnant & Delusional Reluctant Mother: Breast “Feeding”

The Pregnant & Delusional Reluctant Mother: Breast “Feeding”

Ok. . .I’m just going to blurt it out and so you can start judging immediately should you feel compelled:  I never, never, never. . .not even when I saw my son for the first time and my heart swelled with joy and love. . .wanted to breast feed him.

I KNOW.  I know they say it’s absolutely best for the baby.  I know Dr. Sears and a whole bunch of other (often male?!) “experts” practically demand it be tried.  I know.  I know all the facts.  And I  don’t deny them.  I think breastfeeding is great.  If you want to breast feed – as long as you and the child are comfortable – I give you huge props.

I can’t even exactly explain my reasons for not wanting to breast feed.  I just never felt compelled to do it. . .Never.  Not once.

But lots of people expected that I should. . .

And they had no problem telling me all about it. . .Or telling others all about it. . .

Even my Husband, who apparently drank way too much damned Dr. Sears Kool-Aid, wouldn’t give it a rest.  I respect Sears very much and we have adhered to some of his principles of attachment parenting.  Not all. . .Just what works best for our child.

I figured out a way to shut everyone up – at least temporarily.  I agreed to pump and bottle feed.  I KNOW.  It’s twice the work.  But it allowed me to get some damned peace in those last few months of pregnancy when all I wanted was to be left the hell alone anyway.

A few days before I was scheduled to be induced, I plopped my huge ass down in the nursery and pulled out the breast pump.  I looked at the tubes and plastic cup things and the pump itself in terror and confusion.  I definitely had reservations.  All I kept thinking was how unnatural the whole set up was.  I couldn’t get the image of a dairy cow hooked up to their vacuum powered “milkers” out of my head.  In hindsight, this probably didn’t help while I was actually trying to use the thing a few weeks later.  Whatever.  I can’t help my over-active imagination.

Freaked out, I loaded everything back onto the nursery shelf and waddled back to our bed.  I was actually hoping some of those reportedly militant breast-feeding advocates that roam the halls of the postpartum units at hospitals might offer up some guidance when the time came.

The time came. . .and went. . .

We had this nurse for the second half of my labor and delivery (which is another story that won’t disappoint) that was. . .well, borderline incompetent.  And frankly, we had no idea what the hell we were doing.  We never attended birthing classes.  We didn’t write a “birth plan.”  I trusted the professionals to be professional.

I know the nurse knew I was planning to pump.  The Doctor knew I was going to try.  I know they all knew because every time we discussed it, they admonished me that it wouldn’t work.

Despite Ding-Dong Nurse’s efforts, Mac arrived safely and they tossed him in his little warming drawer.  Half of the medical staff turned their attention to the trauma he inflicted on my lady bits.   And while I was enduring their painful and seemingly never-ending patch job, I looked over to see the Ding-Dong Nurse and my Husband offering the tightly swaddled baby burrito a bottle.

“Ok,”  I think to myself.  “It’s not like he has to learn how to latch or anything.”  And then I’m pretty sure I blacked out momentarily from the pain of whatever they were doing to my nether regions.

Before I knew it, Ding-Dong Nurse was wheeling me and all our junk to another floor of the hospital and it was nearly midnight.  The nurse promised a lactation consult in the morning.

SLEEP.  SLEEP.  Ding-Dong’s back.  SLEEP.  Ding-Dong’s back. . .How does anyone ever get better in a hospital with all the continual interruption?!  Jesus.

SLEEP.  SHOWER.  WATCH SOME CRAPPY TV.  Beg Ding-Dong Nurse to discharge us early.  TAKE PHOTOS OF THE KID.  Ask for an Advil, Ding-Dong Nurse offers me a damned Vicodin (what’s wrong with that woman?!).  The day drug on and on and on. . .

But there was no lactation consult.

Still, I wasn’t too worried.  It didn’t appear my breasts had quite figured out I actually had the baby yet.  I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that sometimes it takes a few days for things to happen so I didn’t say much.

I guess I was just expecting to get up one morning with breast milk spurting out of me like a  fountain at the mall or something. . .

The following day, I was adamant we go home. . .but before we left, I wanted to see a damned lactation consultant.

Honestly? I was really digging the bottle thing at this point.  Mac was perfectly happy, eating well.  I didn’t feel like dairy cattle.  However, I knew in order to shut up a few rather vocal folks in the family, I needed to go through with the lactation consult.

Of course, Ding-Dong Nurse didn’t actually ever schedule a consult.  

When they finally tracked down a consultant, she was clearly in a huge hurry.  She absent-mindedly handed me some literature and circled some times on a little spreadsheet. . .On this sheet I was to record when I pumped (every 2-4 hours) and the liquid measure of the results.

Pfft.  This didn’t look like rocket science.  I could do this.  Milk yourself.  Measure.  Repeat.

We happily head home – where I dutifully pumped every 3 hours.  Of course,  the self-milking never aligned with Mac’s actually needing to eat every two hours. . .which meant I was awake almost constantly.

Me and the milker hung out in the nursery for 15 minutes at a clip.  Sometimes I’m certain I would fall asleep and the milking apparatus would actually fall of sucking nothing but nursery air for half of the time.  Oops.

Meanwhile, EVERYONE was growing concerned.

“Where’s the Milk?”  Everyone started demanding after several days of fruitless milking.  Mother in Law started sending texts to the effect of “We want him to get the antibodies.”  And saying things to other family members like “She’s not breast-feeding, but I try not to judge.”

My desperate Husband brought home a six-pack having heard anecdotal evidence from another couple that for some reason drinking a beer created a virtual breast milk geyser to erupt forth from her bousums.

I stood in the shower for longer and longer time periods – sometimes drinking a beer . . .  Ok.  That was more for my own sanity but still. . .I was trying.   I re-read the breast-feeding Chapters in our parenting books.  I sent poor Chris on a mission for different sized milkers (I think technically they are called breast shields), after determining all the pain I was experiencing was caused by a poor fit.

Something awful was beginning to happen:  Even though I never really had any interest in breast-feeding and I was perfectly okay with offering my Son formula, I allowed certain folks to pressure me so much, I was beginning to feel like a failure.

My time with the milker became even less joyful – if that was possible.  One friend helpfully suggested I go to a new-moms breast-feeding class.  Hmmm. . .Me and 10 other women sitting around – each of them with a newborn at their breast and me with a plastic cone attached to a whooshing vacuum machine. . .No thank you.

Then one day it happened!  I managed to pump about 10 whole drops of milk from one stupid boob.  Yeeeeessssss!  Vindication!  I could pump and bottle feed!  I proudly brought the container to the kitchen where I planned to place it in the refrigerator.  I promptly forgot what I was doing and dumped it down the drain and placed it in the dishwasher along with all the other dirty bottles and dishes.  Oh shit.

And there was no more.  

For three weeks, I tried.  I have never been so frustrated in my life.  I wanted to quit but I was also feeling very stubborn about finally shutting everyone up.

My own Mother, who likely sensed I was starting to unravel, convinced me to give it a rest already. . .and get some rest.   So when the time came for my Husband to return to work, I very delicately mentioned that it would likely be better for us all if I had more sleep and COULD I STOP MILKING MYSELF ALREADY!?

And he agreed.  There was no argument.  There was no outward display of disappointment on his part.  “You tried,” he said gently.

I happily and immediately threw out all my milking apparatus.  I packed up the breast pump hoping to never see it again.

Guess what, Mac is happy and healthy. I certainly do not anticipate my failure to offer up a boob is going to lead him to a life of crime.

I no longer feel frustrated by my failed milking attempts and the topic is seldom discussed these days. . .

However, last evening when I asked my Husband if a friend’s newborn baby girl was sleeping well, he said, “She’s awake every two hours, I’m sure she’s breast-feeding.”

And I’m sure it’s still a little lingering defensiveness on my part, but couldn’t help feeling a little like he was judging me. . .

27 Responses to “The Pregnant & Delusional Reluctant Mother: Breast “Feeding””

  1. I am with you sister!! I tried breastfeeding for 2 weeks and finally said it wasn’t for me! I didn’t have this overwhelming sense of “bonding” like everyone says you have. I also thought it was stupid when people would say “you can’t bond with your baby if you dont breastfeed” That is BS! I bonded just fine with bottle feeding her. It was such a huge weight lifted off my shoulders when i decided to bottle feed. I HATED when people asked me if i was breastfeeding! It really is a personal choice and a personal question that no one (except maybe your own mother) should be asking. It’s ridiculous the amount of pressure society puts on Mom’s to breastfeed and no one will EVER prepare you for how hard it really is. Movies are so unrealistic and display breastfeeding as this easy and natural thing. Baby is hungry, enter Mom with nipple, baby latches and all is good. FAIL. It is NOT easy. Maybe for some it is but just because it is for some, doesn’t mean it is for others. No amount of nipple cream in the world will ever make cracked and bloody nipples feel better. I also HATE when people judge you and say “oh breastfeeding is soo much better for the child’s development”. BS! My child is just fine on formula and gets everything she needs from it. My sister in law feels the same exact way and never had any desire to continue with it. It is one of the most frustrating, painful things and to feel like that is the only way your child can be fed is the biggest burden. Feeling that way when you are trying to recover mentally and physically, sleeping 2 hours a night and a complete basket case from all of the hormones is the worst feeling to have. If someone wants to breastfeed and it comes natural to them, then God bless them and that is their choice! Going through this experience taught me that EVERYONE is different and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to raise your baby and no one should judge someone else’s decisions. Sorry for the rant! I love that you posted this!

  2. Deni Lyn says:

    Thank you for your rant! I wholly agree, there is definitely no one-size fits all way to raise or nurture or bond with your child. A breast is one way to forge that bond but there are countless others.

    I do wish Mothers and “experts” would quit being so “black or white” about certain subjects – especially this one. We should all be supporting one another instead of letting things like this polarize us.

    At the time, being so tired and a little emotional, it definitely felt like I was alone with my struggle – although intellectually I knew many people struggle with breast feeding – which who knows? Might have even attributed to my lack of success.

    Sometimes I’m still a little embarrassed when someone asked me if he’s breast fed (I agree, what kind of rude, invasive question is that?!) but after your comments especially, I’ve decided I’m not going to be embarrassed any longer! I’ll proudly say he had formula. He’s a great kid and I’m a good parent. . .there’s not one thing to be ashamed of. . .well, maybe that drinking beer in the shower part (which I sometimes still do in the name of “multi-tasking my me time”) LOL!

  3. OMG, this made me laugh. First of all, the nurse thing. I went through THREE shift changes when I had Bubbs. Yes, I had THREE nurses. The first one was great, the second one was AWESOME, and the third was totally useless. I mean, she was good at her JOB, I’m sure, but when it came time to deliver, I wanted to smack her across the face when her mousy little voice said, “okay, are you feeling a contraction? Okay, push”. Thankfully, there was a senior OB and 2 junior OBs on duty that night, and when they were called in, they started SCREAMING at the top of their lungs and cheering me on. So after an hour of no progress with Nurse Mouse, I totally delivered within the 2nd hour with my team of bitches cheering for me. It was awesome.

    Anyway…

    Breastfeeding. You know, I never had an opinion about it before I had my daughter. I never thought I would do it, but then I felt like I “should” and, like you said, somewhere along the way I think I got caught up in it all. Don’t get me wrong – I did it for 11 months, I enjoyed it, I felt like we bonded, blah blah blah. But I didn’t like doing it in front of people and I would say it contributed to me feeling a little depressed. The only way I could get my daughter to sleep was to breastfeed her, so I sort of started to resent it, but I also had tremendous guilt about wanting to stop. Once I did stop, I immediately started to feel like myself again. So, while I’m glad I did it, I do sort of wonder if I should’ve put less pressure on myself and stopped doing it sooner.

    As for what I think about other people not doing it? I don’t judge anyone who doesn’t do it as I know it’s hard, it’s painful, not everyone can do it, and it’s just not something everyone connects with. And trust me, when you hear that your friend’s child is up every 2 hours? Don’t feel any remorse for not doing it. I was one of those moms that was up every 1.5-2 hours and IT. IS. AWFUL.

    From what I’ve read on your blog, you are a fantabulous mommy and your son is so blessed to have you. I think putting the milker away when you did was probably one of the best decisions you’ve ever made as it probably helped you be a better mommy. Who wants to be a human cow every 3 hours? So, give yourself a pat on the back!

    • Deni Lyn says:

      HI! Glad you got a little chuckle! We had 4 nurses that I remember – a couple I don’t. I entered the hospital at 7 AM on a Monday. Mac was born at nearly 9 PM on Tuesday. It was wretched. I had (fortunately) never spent a night in the hospital prior. And frankly, even knowing how rewarding the outcome is, it was enough to make me never want to do it again. (not the labor – the actual hospital).

      I’m so thankful to hear from you and others that even though you did breast feed, you don’t look upon those of us that didn’t as “bad” or “wrong.” (Thanks for thinking I’m a fantabulous mom. Some days I am! ha). And I’m even more surprised to hear so many women admitting how difficult and stressful and sometimes even unhappy breastfeeding can be.

      In fact, so far, I’ve gotten really kind and supportive comments about the whole deal. Which really leaves me wondering, where is all the controversy surrounding this whole aspect of parenting coming from? Media hype? Who knows?! Who cares?!

      All I know is, I value your support, your opinions, and your humor. . .”Who wants to be a human cow every 3 hours?” LOL!!!

      • One of my friends recently made a comment to me about how “polite” moms are about things. I think we are all worried about what other people will think of us, and as as result we tend not to talk about the bad stuff.

        I have some friends who seemed to think breastfeeding was AMAZING, and had no qualms about whipping their tits out in public for all to see. And good for them for feeling that way as I’m sure their experience was wonderful. But that’s just not me. I did like that I breastfed and that it calmed my daughter down, and there were times I thought it was cute, but I didn’t like always having to think about when I had to feed her so I could be at home to do it, and as she got older, I sort of felt like it was getting creepy. NOT that I think it’s creepy when other kids do it as they’re older. It was just…a weird feeling for me.

        It also meant that my husband couldn’t do a lot, particularly at the beginning when she fed ALL THE TIME, and when we were going through all of those sleep struggles. So from that point of view, it made me feel a little isolated, I think.

        I didn’t pump until she was about 6 months, and I stopped pretty fast. That freaking sucks. You really DO feel like a cow when you are hooked up to a machine that is tugging at your nipples. NOT fun.

        Honestly, I wouldn’t even give it a second thought next time (will there be a next time???!!! 😉 ) if you decide not to do it again. I really think the most important thing is to preserve your sanity so you CAN be a good mom. And if breastfeeding makes you unhappy, then why do it? There’s NOTHING wrong with formula, and it would seem your little guy is doing pretty well. 🙂

  4. hnMom says:

    Amen, great post, glad you shared it with us.
    I do breastfeed but I can understand your frustration and I’m sorry you had to deal with all these emotional ups and downs.
    BTW, I find the question whether I breastfeed just as intrusive as you did. Along with all kinds of other annoying inquiries. Natural birth or not? Is the baby sleeping through the night? Does he walk yet? Does she talk yet? You are still using diapers? My child was potty trained when she was 9 months old. And on and on and on…
    What gives? Why all the comparing and judging and interrogations. Who cares? Why can’t we all just do what feels right to us?
    You never breastfed? You “only” breastfed for 11 months? You child is 13 months old and you are still breastfeeding? To which I say, and this is your business how again?
    I’d say a mom and her baby are the happiest if they do what feels right. And it should end there.

    • Deni Lyn says:

      YES! When people kept asking about “natural birth” I got so sick of talking about it, I started telling them everything. Seriously, everything. I was hoping that might make them think twice about asking someone else in the future. Ha!

      I know some people ask to make small talk or because they are genuinely interested. In fact, having been thorough it all once, sometimes I’m not sure what to ask someone who’s expecting or recently had a child. So much of it should be private – which is exactly why I’m discussing it in all of cyber space? This onion clearly has many layers. Ha! (I’ve found nursery decor to be a relatively neutral topic by the way. . .).

      I agree, mom and baby are unique and they need to do what feels right.

      And so many of the comments I see on this blog and other blogs support that idea – many women feel the same way – which is very encouraging. Hopefully we can reach a point where the media, medical professionals, and mother-in-laws come to the same conclusion. 🙂

      • hnMom says:

        I really, really hope so. So many women had to share their opinion when I was pregnant. “I hope you do such and such.” and “You aren’t thinking about doing this or that, are you?” It was so confusing. I know they all meant well, or at least most of them, but still.
        Same at the hospital. There were so many physicians and pediatricians and nurses and lactation consultants and who knows who else coming in all the time. Each one had a different opinion and you never saw them again to ask for clarification.
        I didn’t know left from right and felt so insecure about everything. What a mess, ha.

      • Deni Lyn says:

        I picture all the doctors and nurses standing outside the rooms laughing and laughing debating what kind of ridiculous thing to walk in an say next to completely overwhelmed parents. Surely they must right? How else can you explain that debacle? Argh!!

  5. Deni Lyn says:

    HI! Glad you got a little chuckle! We had 4 nurses that I remember – a couple I don’t. I entered the hospital at 7 AM on a Monday. Mac was born at nearly 9 PM on Tuesday. It was wretched. I had (fortunately) never spent a night in the hospital prior. And frankly, even knowing how rewarding the outcome is, it was enough to make me never want to do it again. (not the labor – the actual hospital).

    I’m so thankful to hear from you and others that even though you did breast feed, you don’t look upon those of us that didn’t as “bad” or “wrong.” (Thanks for thinking I’m a fantabulous mom. Some days I am! ha). And I’m even more surprised to hear so many women admitting how difficult and stressful and sometimes even unhappy breastfeeding can be.

    In fact, so far, I’ve gotten really kind and supportive comments about the whole deal. Which really leaves me wondering, where is all the controversy surrounding this whole aspect of parenting coming from? Media hype? Who knows?! Who cares?!

    All I know is, I value your support, your opinions, and your humor. . .”Who wants to be a human cow every 3 hours?” LOL!!!

  6. 4eyedblonde says:

    I completely agree with hnMom and DnS. Who gives a crap whether you nurse or use formula? Thank God they HAVE formula! The funny thing is…it was the opposite for me! My family and friends either didn’t pressure me at all, or they thought I was goin all granola-girl for breastfeeding. I wrote an entry not too long ago about my fight to b/f; I KNOW how hard and tiring it is. I’m sorry that you felt so much pressure to give it a go…it really shouldn’t be that way.

    I have a friend who b/f all four of her kids and was pleased when I chose to. When she found out that one of her family members had chosen against breastfeeding, wasn’t the slightest bit interested, she was whole-heartedly surprised. She tried to confide in me her distaste and I think she was even more surprised by my answer: Who cares? It’s her decision. So long as she is feeding the baby to begin with, who cares how she does it? Most moms aren’t dummies. The advantages to breast milk are beat into them from the moment they get the plus sign. But if the desire to b/f isn’t there, WHO GIVES A CRAP? It’s their right! It’s every mother’s right! It’s truly not the end of the world!

    I was formula fed, my husband was formula fed – hell, just about everyone I know was formula fed. And I probably wouldn’t be a good example for the promotion of formula (ha!) but there are plenty who would.

    And just like Dani said, you sound like an awesome mom. Don’t let yourself feel guilty for a single second. You just take what you learned from that experience and next time you’ll have just the confidence you’ll need to tell everyone to shove it – on the subject of breastfeeding and any other decision you make that doesn’t necessarily coincide with mainstream.

    Start working on flexing that middle finger and next time you won’t even have to say a word…:)

    • Deni Lyn says:

      Thank you! Working on flexing that middle finger! Hilarious. It gest a decent work out now. . .

      I read your post about breast feeding. I think you dedication is remarkable and I think it’s a great story for anyone struggling with breast-feeding. 🙂

  7. So glad you posted this. Breast feeding is not something that the women in my family typically do, so I didn’t have a lot of pressure coming from them, and although I’ve read so much about the benefits of it, I knew that I would probably end up formula feeding because I had to go back to work after 6 weeks. I couldn’t imagine standing in front of a classroom full of teenagers and saying, “Excuse me, I have to go pump now.” Many of the women (and men) at my job did make me feel like crap early on, but I figured they meant well.
    What was the weirdest was when the male teachers would ask me about my preferred method of childbirth. No other man in my life ever asked this, but I guess because they worked with a bunch of women they felt the need to ask. On more than one occassion, I responded with “VAGINALLY! IF YOU COULD, WHAT WOULD YOU PREFER?” I often responded way too loud just to get them, and anyone else who might have thought of asking, to back off. There is something quite off putting by a fat lady screaming the word “vaginally” in the middle of a high school corridor.
    Funniest Pregnancy Story: One lady I work with, let’s call her Donna, told me, in a hallway full of teenagers mind you, to massage my breasts paying particular attention to my nipples when I started to have those early contractions. Donna was dead serious, and I was mortified. If I could have, I’m sure I would have turned bright red. All I could do was whisper, “Should I have that cigarette before or after the experience?” She didn’t find that as funny as I did, but she did refrain from giving me any more advice. I counted it as a win-win.
    One of my favorite mantras is “Every thing isn’t everybody’s business,” so I think it’s perfectly okay to respond in snarky way when they cross the line. Don’t feel bad about it for a moment longer. You did what was best for you and your family. As a woman who tried and failed miserably (20 minutes of solid trying) with her first child and who didn’t even consider it with her second, trust me when I say, sometimes it’s better just to be true to yourself from the beginning. But as a woman who is cursed with no-boobs-at-all disease (commonly known as two-backs syndrome), I did quite like the porn star look about three days after the birth of my second child and wished that I could have kept that up longer.

    • ha! I love the snarky replies. I got crazy-ass questions when I trotted my twins out in public, the worst being “are they natural”? So I responded one time, “no, we have one real daughter, we decided to make these two out of plastic.” dude gave a nervous laugh and wandered away. (this was in a Starbucks)

  8. Deni Lyn says:

    Oh My, Donna must have left her decorum at home that day! I completely agree, everything isn’t always everybody’s business! I love your response to her. Perfect!

  9. […] a while ago and she must leave.  And as if on cue, in walks Dr. Gym Coach with my new nurse:  Nurse Ding-Dong (already notorious on this blog).  Dr. Gym Coach introduces us.  She has her arm around Nurse Ding-Dong like they are best […]

  10. jennsomethingclever says:

    I want to punch your mother-in-law. Please send me her address.

  11. I am amazed at how many stories are so like my own. Thanks for sharing yours – every time I read one I feel better about sticking to my guns about the choice I made.

    We had an AWFUL lactation consultant who man-handled my boobs and then told me every time I described how it felt, that I was doing it wrong. I wish I had told her to piss off and tried it on my own – then again, all the women who talk about bleeding, I’m kind glad I gave up.

    I did pump for 3 months with the first kid, and 1 month for the twins. I feel they got their antibodies. 😉

    • Deni Lyn says:

      It’s amazing how everyone suddenly has an opinion about EVERYTHING once you have children. I was definitely not prepared for that. Another thing I wasn’t prepared for but it was a very pleasant surprise, is how truly kind and supportive so many “Internet Moms” are. You guys have been fantastic! 🙂

  12. I nursed both my children and still I never mastered that stupid pump. As in I’m envious of your six drops. I kept powdered formula on hand for the rare occasions I had to be away from them at feeding time.

  13. Stephanie Sprenger says:

    Pumping is awful. I have never hated anything so much in my whole life. I am beyond happy to be rid of that stupid machine and they funny bra with holes thing that I zipped my boobs into so I could have both hands free to claw at my eyes while I used it. Loved your Ding Dong Nurse bit. Ha! Seriously, why won’t they leave us the hell alone? We just gave birth!

    • Deni Lyn says:

      When I offered the breast pump to my sister, and she hesitated, I begged her to take it! I offered to pay her money if she made sure it fell out of the back of their car on the highway on the drive home! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post! Thanks for reading.