So What, I Didn’t Breastfeed
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I had no intention of breastfeeding my daughter. I read the recommendations, I listened to the counselors that told me the benefits and I politely declined. No one asked twice or tried to sway a decision that had already been made. Breastfeeding would have been bad for me even if it was good for my daughter and I chose accordingly.
My pregnancy was a difficult one and I was thrilled when my daughter left my body. Whether right or wrong, I was ecstatic that now there were two of us. I wasn’t a woman that glowed through pregnancy: I visited the ER for hydration, my feet rivaled that of an elephant’s and I was permanently exhausted. Beyond the trips to the hospital, there is nothing unique about elephant feet or exhaustion during pregnancy, but I was happy that it was over. There was no way I would continue to have my daughter attached to my body for another two years.
I knew my limitations as a mother before I became one. Breastfeeding would have meant that I was someone else’s food source. I knew that responsibility was an awesome one and that I was not up to the task. I would have resented my daughter for being hungry all the time and that it was my body doing all the work. I would have spiraled into a deep and dark depression without my autonomy.
I also liked my perky breasts and wanted them to remain that way.
My daughter deserved the best and, for me, the best that I could offer was a bottle and formula. I didn’t have second thoughts then and I still don’t. I made feedings a special time where my partner and I sat down and held our daughter; even when she gained the strength to handle the bottler herself. We were purposeful in our recognition that feeding our baby was an important time to bond and we took it seriously even if that time was not spent at my breast.
Choosing not to breastfeed allowed my partner to be a participant in the earliest stages of fatherhood rather than a sidekick. He, just like me, woke up in the middle of the night for feedings and could be found at the mall with our baby in one hand and a bottle in the other.
Breastfeeding wasn’t for me, but I support mothers who decide it works for their families. I get angry when Facebook deletes pictures of women nursing their children and even more mad when someone suggests that breastfeeding is indecent (it’s not). But ultimately it’s not my cross to bear because I have no frame of reference. All that I can offer is my support.
I wasn’t cut out to be a breastfeeding mother and my daughter is none the wiser. If she remembers her bottle days at all, it’s through pictures. She doesn’t feel left out or that I didn’t love her enough or that I was somehow selfish.
Even if I am selfish, so be it.
It made me a better mother.
Photo via Flickr