When the Breast Stops Being the BestKatie Loeb
Well, if you can quit something you never did successfully in the first place.
In the month my baby has been here we have tried so much to make this work.
We did tubing on fingers, tubing on breasts, special bottles, nipple shields, 3 different lactation consultants. We have battled with disinterest, flow preference, nipple aversion, thrush and insatiable appetites. More tears have been shed, from both me and the baby, over breastfeeding than could possible be tallied.
We tried everything, and yet somehow, here we are, a month in and still unable to breastfeed. And ready to be finished struggling.
I think I knew the end was near when we decided to take some time off last week. But everyone had told me that some babies just “got it” at 4-6 weeks and so yesterday we tried again. He wouldn’t latch without the shield, and though he nursed somewhat successfully with it, after 20 minutes the flow was not enough and he began hysterically crying. As I watched my hungry baby screaming as I tried to coax him to latch again, I realized that it was time.
Continuing to try to breastfeed was making us both completely miserable.
I feel like I’ve lost so much time to breastfeeding. Like I’ve missed out on some of the joy of a new baby because we have spent so much time struggling. I have many regrets when it comes to this experience, but that is the greatest of them. And for that reason, I feel relieved with the decision to be finished.
But there is another part of me that is devastated.
I had these images of breastfeeding. We have a brand new glider in the nursery and I had visions of nursing my baby to sleep and then putting his drowsy, calm body back in his crib. I got a beautiful nursing cover and thought about all the times we’d make use of it in public, the ease of feeding my baby wherever we went. I imagined I would be the ultimate comfort to my child.
And all of that has changed.
I can still use that glider, I just have to grab a bottle first and make sure I have enough milk to fill his belly. I can still use the nursing cover, and have, for pumping. I am still my baby’s favorite person, but it’s just not the same as I imagined. I wanted to be the only person who could feed him. I wanted that closeness, that relationship and now I have to find a different way.
There’s a part of me that wants to keep trying, but I also just want to enjoy my baby. I want to find a routine with pumping, I want to see what it’s like to just feed my child, not to struggle with him every 3 hours. I want eating to be tear free for both of us, and we haven’t ever had that with breastfeeding.
While I am sad, I know that I will regret quitting much less than I’ll regret making us miserable and missing out on time with my baby. I know the saying goes that “the breast is best” but I think for us, that’s just no longer the case.
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