I would sit there for maybe an hour, holding my baby, trying to nourish him but I wasn’t feeling anything. Except rubbing pain. How was this a beautiful and bonding experience? The next feeding would come too quickly after that. I began dreading feeding my baby. How is that even possible? My tired body would wake, pick him up, and ache to bond with him. Yes, of course I loved him. I cared for him. But I wanted something more. A deeper connection. I would stumble over to the rocking chair and sit for another long hour or two. He struggling to let me know what he needed- and me struggling to know how to give it to him. Nursing did not come natural for me at all. I sought out professional help, according to that woman I was doing everything right. Then how come it didn’t feel right? How come I didn’t feel anything? This little baby ate 4 oz easily without any problems. Well he obviously was just showing off because this was not the norm. I felt alone. No one understood that I was struggling.
Flash forward a week- it really felt like a year- I was talking to my sister. She seemed put together, she had a 1 year-old still nursing. I tried to hold myself together and ask how. How was this supposed to be a good feeling? When was I going to feel an incredible bond that I have never felt before? How was I going to know if I was feeding my baby enough? But just tears came. Then a muffled “I don’t even like nursing” came gushing out. Did I just admit I don’t like feeding my baby? Out loud? To someone who has had an incredible nursing journey? What will she think of me?
Too embarrassed, I looked at the ground. Immediately I felt her arms hugging me so tightly. She doesn’t think I am a terrible person. “Its OKAY if you DON’T like it” was what I heard her whisper. I hadn’t really thought of that. I just felt like a terrible person for not liking it. I felt like a terrible mom. “If you want to keep trying- I will support you AND if you don’t I will still support you.”
After that pivotal moment, in the kitchen of my mother-in-law’s house, with a whole audience to witness this episode. Why is it that break downs happen in the most glorious of places? I had a new perspective. It was okay that I didn’t like nursing. I could keep trying because I wanted to or I could choose what I thought was best for me and the baby.
Later that day, once we got home, I asked my husband to feed the baby so I could just take a minute to myself. I had some extra milk that was stored in the freezer for when I went back to work because apparently building a freezer stash is another one of those to-do items. I remember sitting across the room and staring in unbelief. That’s it! That is the connection I have been longing for. My baby was looking at my husband. His daddy was softly talking to him and he was cooing back. He pleasantly drank his milk and happily listened to his daddy. There was love in the room, so much peace.
That’s when I knew.
I now exclusively pump. It’s what I chose to do. No one forced me. People may have their opinions about it, but those opinions don’t matter. I feel so connected to that little boy. I talk to him and look at him -he looks back at me. I am happy. It is what works for us- Actually it’s not what works for us, it what bonds us. It’s our normal. It’s our perfect.
Choose your normal and own it! Maybe your normal is breastfeeding, maybe it’s pumping, maybe it’s co-sleeping, or chocolate cake for breakfast… the list could go on and on. If it’s your normal. Good! I am happy for you! You are a good mom. You are doing what works for that little one and you! Share with me, what’s your normal?
You’ve got this mama!
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