Breast feeding is hard. I know it is tough for everyone, but I was unprepared for the sheer time and energy that would go into feeding my child. Before I had Harrison, I tried to be as educated and prepared as possible. I knew that everyone I am related to had issues with breastfeeding and I had long conversations with my doctor about their issues. I also attended La Leche meetings and got a lot of good tips there. I thought I was prepared for what would go into this, but I was so not.
My milk did not come in right away, and our consultation with the lactation consultant was depressing. She essentially told me that because I had issues getting pregnant I would have issues breast feeding. Justin and I left that appointment feeling very confused and defeated. Since then, we have worked things out, but I still don't make enough milk to be Harrison' sole source of food.
In the past three weeks, I have heard from so many other women who have had the same issues and have been very supportive. They make me feel better. I felt an intense pressure to solely breast feed and felt like I was already failing as a mom when I couldn't exclusively do it. Justin, my mom, my sister, and almost every other woman I have spoken to about this have assured me that I am not a failure and that lots of babies have formula supplement and grow up to be healthy and happy.
Their assurances helped, but whenever I use a bottle in public I feel like I have to explain why. Why do I feel so much pressure about this? I am feeding him at the breast and pumping. He is healthy and fine, but I still feel as if I am not doing enough. I have thought about this a lot in the past few days and for me, that pressure comes from the reading and research I did while pregnant. I read Mayim Bialik's book Beyond the Sling, and I really liked a lot of her ideas. I also spent a lot of time reading La Leche League literature and really listening at meetings.
I have come to the conclusion that I was not being very realistic about who I am and what my life is like. I am not someone who is going to sit on a couch and breastfeed non-stop. That would make me crazy. I have come to appreciate the fact that Justin can feed Harrison, and that that allows me to continue to do work during the summer and earn some extra money. The hard lesson that I have learned, and thankfully heard from multiple people (including a lovely note from Leslie) is that I have to do what works for me and my family and not worry about what other people think.
This is so much harder than I thought it would be.
Breast feeding is still hard. I have be conscience about consuming enough food to keep my milk supply up, and today we started removing dairy to see if that helped Harrison feel better. However, we still have a happy and healthy baby and we are slowly learning how to be parents. It is going to be ok.