My Love/Hate Relationship with Breastfeeding
I always knew I would do it if I could. After all the “breast is best” info you get with prenatal care and in the hospital, I was convinced breastfeeding was what I would do for my babies, if we could make it work. I never took into account what an emotional roller coaster my experience with breastfeeding was going to be.
There's a definite learning curve, at first. You have to figure out what works best for you: football hold, cradle, cross cradle. It's a lot to take in, and I never did know if my baby was latching correctly in the beginning. There's something pretty incredible about being the source of nourishment for your baby, and it's enough to make a hormonal new mom very emotional. But, I'm not going to lie, there were parts of breastfeeding that made me want to pull my hair out!
With my last daughter, I was breastfeeding literally anywhere—in the backseat of my van, in the corner booth at the restaurant, or in just about any nook or cranny at the YMCA I could find. It was far from the vision I had of nursing my little baby in her nursery's rocking chair. It became a real challenge as she got bigger because she didn't want to be covered up when I nursed her. I learned to really love my van's tinted windows! I longed to be like those mothers who could just pop a bottle in their baby's mouth. (As long as I was nursing, I could never get my kids to go back and forth between bottle and breast!)
But, then, there were those moments when things were quiet and, as I pictured, with just the two of us. The emotional connection between a mother and her nursing baby is something that is unparalleled. It was everything I imagined and more as I could feel that intense love and bond.
But, the bigger she got, the less those moments happened, and more often she couldn't be bothered to hold still and nurse for longer than 15 seconds here and 10 seconds there. Not to mention the times in the checkout line at the grocery store, where it was VERY clear to everyone exactly what it was she wanted from me at that moment. I have a girlfriend whose little girl can even be found in an all-out tantrum, screaming “Boooooobie!” Because, isn't it so endearing?
I'm not going to even attempt to tell you when you should stop nursing, or even to nurse at all, but for me, the grocery store line at about 13 months was my breaking point. She was not hungry. She was fed. She was just bored and ornery, and so she resorted to her fallback—breastfeeding. We tried weaning gradually, but ended up having to go cold turkey for her to “get it.”
Now that I'm finished breastfeeding, there's a certain freedom that comes from having my body to myself again. I was actually able to take my older daughter on a weekend trip to visit her cousins—just the two of us. Something we wouldn't have been able to do if I was still nursing.
I have to admit, though, it's bittersweet. I miss that bond and the time we spent together, just her and me. But, I do not miss the battle with the blanket/nursing cover outside my son's classroom at the YMCA!
What was your experience with breastfeeding? Did you ever find yourself nursing in places you never thought you would? Did you struggle with mixed emotions about ending the nursing relationship?