Thursday, April 2, 2009

The boob for a baby?

To recap my experience with breastfeeding the Bean, it started off rocky. And by rocky, I mean I was supplementing the baby with formula and trying to get him on the breast constantly and pumping like mad to increase my supply, meanwhile getting hardly any sleep and crying my eyes out daily.

It took weeks of 24-hour dedication, but I was *determined* to exclusively breastfeed this little guy. I felt like I had failed conception (IUI), failed delivery (C-section), and now I was failing at motherhood by not nourishing my child on my own.

Yes, I realize this is unfair and unrealistic. And if anyone who dealt with IF and/or a C-section and/or BF trouble tried to pull that "I'm failing" crap, I would go and kick them in the shin. Because come on, that's ridiculous.

Double standards aside, when my efforts paid off and I could stop supplementing Bean, I was overcome with an enormous sense of relief and accomplishment. While I carried a lot of self doubt from IF, I was so proud of myself for persevering in this area. Because it was damn hard. And I did it. Maybe I could be a mother after all.

I hated BFing at first, I was resentful even as I was determined. Then around six months, it wasn't so bad... I enjoyed it, kinda. And then we hit one year, my personal goal for us. Finally the ambivalence is gone, I love the bonding between us and the nutrition I give him -- makes me feel better about the fries he had for lunch the other day. I am also blessed with a super supportive DH, who never once has asked me when I plan to wean the Bean. (I'm guessing the main reason is that he enjoys having a free pass out of soothing Bean at his night wakings. The guy's not stupid!)

Now that we are hoping to add to our family again, the main challenge (beyond my questionable fertility) is that we are breastfeeding. Although AF returned early at 4 months post partum, she has been anything but reasonable since then. Cycle lengths and ovulation days are all over the board. I have the feeling that I would regulate again if I weaned the baby, but the thought of stopping before at least one of us is ready makes me want to cry. We worked so hard to get here, and it's finally so lovely!

I am surprised myself at my reluctance to wean. But I suppose it comes down to this reality: I might not have another biological child. This might be the only baby I nurse. If I knew for certain that if I weaned him, I would get pregnant in the next few months, I would start tomorrow. But if I wean now and I don't get pregnant again, I will be crushed to know that I ended before either one of us was ready.

It's the lesser of the evils, I suppose. I've given up enough for infertility, I'm not going to add breastfeeding to the list.

**Disclaimer: I pass no judgement on moms who chose not to breastfeed, it's just another decision that we all have to make on our own based on circumstances and resources. I do take issue, however, with the misinformation and lack of support out there for new moms, especially among doctors and L&D nurses. It makes me really sad when a mom isn't able to reach her BFing goals because of bad advice. But that's a soap box for another time.


  1. Oh man, do I ever relate to this. We also conceived via IUI (our third) and though I wanted to trying natural labor, ended up needing a c-section because Zoe was breech when her water broke. The failure feelings were definitely strong.

    I'm so happy you were able breastfeed for so long, and I totally understand the reluctance to wean. The uncertainty the infertility brings is just brutal and unfair that it puts us in these positions to make impossible decisions.

    Best of luck to you! We've just decided to try again for a second child and it's nice to find other women in the same boat.

  2. I feel like I could have written about 70-80% of this! It didn't take me quite as long to feel like BFing was comfortable - maybe around 4 months(?) it finally struck me that I liked it! I was totally caught off guard by the fact that it finally started to work, we liked it and kept going past the 6 month goal I initially set. We're at 14 months and still going strong and that's not anything I ever could have predicted. And like you said, I don't pass judgment about when or how much others BF, but for us this feels right and wonderful but definitely surprising too!

    AF still hasn't returned for me though so I'm pretty sure we might have to wait for Peanut to wean before our TTC means anything. But I'm so not ready to give it up when she loves it SOOO much.

  3. Good for you on not letting IF push you out of BFing. I agree that there isn't enough support out there for moms just getting started on breastfeeding. I'm still mad at the NICU nurses who insisted on supplementing with formula rather than help me learn to nurse.


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