About six months ago, I posted about all the struggles I was having with nursing Baby M.
Well, we’ve been at this over seven months, now, and things have, indeed, improved.
I still don’t love breastfeeding, though. It’s convenient; especially when we’re out and about. It’s portable, and simple; I never have to worry if things are the right temperature, or if baby is eating too much. I can forget the diaper bag, but lunch is always with us, which is good, considering the number of things I forget when I am trying to rush out the door with an uncooperative kid.
There are a lot of ways that it still sucks, however (pun intended). My body is not mine. I can’t eat what I want – no wheat, dairy, beef, soy, or nuts for me. There is no such thing as a restaurant meal anymore, with a diet like that. I can never be very far from Baby M; in fact, he was over six months old before I was ever any further from him than from the house to the barn. Even now, I am on a three-hour tether. When the round-trip to town is around an hour and a half, that doesn’t make it worth trying to go shopping alone, so I haven’t. My clothes are still designed solely around easy access and spit-up concealment, rather than being able to wear something nice. It might be nice to dress up sometime, except that none of my nice shirts fit, anyhow, with these monster breasts.
Nursing is still much like diaper changing. It needs to be done. I do it. It’s not something I particularly enjoy, especially now that baby has sprouted a couple of teeth. However, it is good for him, with the added benefits of being cheap and easy, so we will continue, at least until I go back to work.
I do still object to the propaganda that makes breastfeeding out to be some earth-mother nirvana. For me, it was not. It was (is) work. Hard work. I was not prepared for how difficult it would be. It wasn’t just the pain, though that didn’t help. It was the total loss of autonomy. The loss of most of my identity, all at once, with no warning, and no preparation. I went from being a well-respected career woman, with an important role at work, as well as being an equal at home, to being a pair of boobs for a very demanding little guy. My whole existence was reduced to feeding the baby. This was not a chore I could share with my (awesome) husband, either, as much as we might both wish we could split the load. It was my duty, and mine alone. I wish that had not come as such a shock. I wish someone had told me that.
People say that only the positive aspects of breastfeeding should be discussed, because if women knew how hard it was, nobody would ever even try.
I’m pretty sure my marathon-running friends knew they weren’t signing up for a stroll in the park. I backpacked alone in North Africa, and I knew in advance that there would be challenges. I know many very strong women, who have voluntarily done many very difficult and amazing things, and they generally made the decision knowing exactly how hard it was going to be. I don’t think many women expect motherhood to be easy, either. I just wish there was more public information about the parts of breastfeeding that are challenging, or painful, or just plain hard. That way, there wouldn’t be the ‘nasty surprise’ aspect to contend with, on top of the sleep deprivation, steep learning curve, and all of the other issues that you face as a new parent. I think more women are likely to quit because they were misinformed, than are likely to quit if they commit, in advance, to doing something that is difficult, but which improves the health of their babies.
Give us some credit.