I got 99 problems … but my boobs ain’t one!

Breastfeeding. People have really, REALLY strong opinions about breastfeeding. Really  strong.

I am not one of those people.

I fully believe in a mother’s right to choose what works best for her, her baby and the rest of her family. I don’t judge and I don’t condemn – mostly because … honestly … I don’t care. Okay … maybe I do care a tiny little bit; I mean, if there are any “Game of Thrones” fans reading this, then you’ll understand when I say I was kind of creeped out by the fact that Lysa was still breastfeeding Robin long into his teenage years … but I digress. When it comes to a mother’s right/choice/preference to feed her child, I say, it’s up to each individual mother and no one else.

Cali2 080714When I found out we were having twins, I worried about a lot of things. I mean, twins means two of everything: two car seats, two cribs, two highchairs, two sets of diapers … you get the picture. One thing I never worried about, however, was breastfeeding. I mean, come on – two babies, two boobs, what could be the problem?

Well, for starters, my little nuggets of heaven arrived 8 weeks early – so that put a damper on things from the get-go. Since they were being fed from an NG tube for their first few weeks of life, my ability to participate was limited to pumping every 3 hours around the clock, a task which I was more than happy to do. As anyone who has experienced the NICU for even the briefest time can attest, anything you can do to feel “normal” is helpful; setting my alarm to wake up every 3 hours so I could pump was something tangible I could do to help my babies, so I did it.

Once the boys were a bit older, the lactation nurses were AWESOME at helping me figure out how to feed both babies. They were helpful and encouraging and supportive of me as a new mother. If I could have brought them home with me, maybe I would have lasted longer as a breastfeeding mom; then again, maybe not – because here’s the thing … and I have never said this to ANYONE. I may even catch all kinds of flak for saying this out loud … but I hated it. I hated every second of it. I did not enjoy breastfeeding. I know, I know … it’s not about me – it’s about the boys and what was best for them. I know that. I do. But at the end of the day, what’s best for my children is a mom who isn’t frustrated and worried and resentful and angry – and that’s what breastfeeding was doing to me.

In our case, breastfeeding was frustrating because there were two of them and only one of me. I tried feeding them both at the same time, but I never got the hang of it. I had one who was a grazer and wanted to eat for 5 minutes, then sleep for 10, while the other one would only eat from one side. I felt like I never slept. As soon as I fed them both, got them changed and back to sleep, I had about an hour before I had to get up and do it all over again.

Breastfeeding caused me great worry. Babies brought home from the NICU are required to maintain and/or gain weight or else they can end up back in the hospital. I could never tell how much they were getting to eat. It stressed me out to no end! I constantly worried that they weren’t getting enough to eat. Breastfeeding also caused me to be resentful and angry because no one could do it but me. Yes, I could pump and other people could feed the boys, but at the end of the day, it still ALL came down to me – and with all the stress that comes with being a new mom, that was one stress I just didn’t need.

So, after 9 weeks and one very tearful visit with my doctor, I stopped breastfeeding. The weight that lifted from my shoulders when my doctor looked me in the eye and said “stop breastfeeding” was enormous. I walked out of her office with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

Breastfeeding didn’t work for me – not because I didn’t have the supply, or because my babies couldn’t latch, or anything like that.

Breastfeeding didn’t work because I wasn’t comfortable.

For a long time, I carried quite a bit of guilt over my feelings – or rather, over my inability to get over  my feelings. Two and a half years later, though, I have happy, healthy, thriving toddlers. I don’t regret my decision to stop breastfeeding because I know that it made me a better mom for my boys. At the end of the day, that’s all we can do – be the best possible parent we know how to be, and let go of the guilt over all the mistakes we make along the way.

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3 Responses to I got 99 problems … but my boobs ain’t one!

  1. Shea August 7, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Thank you, Cali, for saying what some are afraid to say out loud. My reasons for not breastfeeding are different (even the lactation consultant said, “This just isn’t going to work.”) but the feelings of guilt I initially felt match yours. (Thanks, society, for the pressure!) It wasn’t what I needed as a new mom. So I got over it.

    Sure, you might catch some flack for saying it out loud. But you also might just save a new mom who is silently teetering at the brink like you were.

  2. Heather August 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    My first son was a NICU baby and it was incredibly difficult for me to nurse. My boobs are SO big and his mouth was so little and he just couldn’t/wouldn’t latch no matter what we did. I pumped as long as I could but then I dried up. Truth be told I was sort of relieved. I was only 18 when he was born and wasn’t sure that I would have been comfortable breast feeding him.

    My second baby was born full term and I breast fead him until he was nearly 2. This time I was ready and willing and comfortable. I am pro nursing but I am not a judgy McJudgerpants against those who don’t. Thing is…we don’t know if people have been molested or just have hang ups about their breasts. So it’s not for us to say whether someone should be doing something that is right for us. We need to be supportive of other mothers because it’s moms against the world. We don’t need to be at odds with each other.
    I do totally get the worrying over how much they are getting. When I was breast feeing my second baby I was worried about that very thing but he doubled his weight in less than a month. He was getting ample. LOL

  3. Finding My Maternal Side August 9, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    Thanks for such an honest post. I too hated breastfeeding. I had some latch issues as well but I honestly just didn’t enjoy it. I have a happy healthy 2 year old and a smiley 3 month old. Both started with breast milk but then mostly formula fed. Happy Momma = Happy Kids!