Breastfeeding is how I discovered the power of embarrassing your male coworkers. I had two different run-ins with male colleagues asking where I was going (the women’s changing/pumping room was a short walk from my desk, and I carried that hideous Medela backpack). The first time it happened–“Where are you going? You know we have a meeting at 10:30, right?” I stuttered, beet-faced, that I was going to the bathroom, to uh, well… It took the poor guy a few beats before his face matched mine and he practically ran away from me. It’s like telling your male geometry teacher you’re on your period. They will never bother you again!
Overall, I had a great experience with breastfeeding. I lost the baby weight quickly. My milk supply was fine–I wasn’t filling gallon jugs, but I always had extra stored. Night feedings were sweet and cozy, and we even went through a cosleeping phase. I worked in an office so pumping was easy & (mostly!) uneventful. We nursed until he self-weaned at 1 year–when he laughed and poked my boob instead of trying to nurse, I knew we were done.
It’s easy to assume that it’s all going smoothly for someone else, isn’t it? It sounds perfect, right? Well, I can tell you that it hurt in the beginning just like it does for every other mom. I got teary and frustrated when he only went 30-45 minutes between feeds. When I had to start pumping when he was in NICU, I spilled 4 oz of milk and started sobbing and blubbering “I can’t do this. I can’t do this!” Even when he did sleep through the night at 6 weeks, I was up and pumping at 3 to build up a stockpile (and keep my pajamas dry).
Then mastitis happened. Somehow my over-informed self took a breastfeeding class and read the BEST breastfeeding book and still managed to ignore any mention of mastitis. So it figures that it would happen to me. Basically it’s a plugged duct that turns into an abscess (yep, gross) if it gets infected. It had to be opened and drained. Three times. Two of those times with only a “numbing wipe” for the pain–which was completely ineffective. They probably put me under the third time because of all the screaming.
So perfect, right? Yeah, super perfect. Nursing and pumping around an open wound is certainly an ideal we should all strive for.
I suppose I could have given up then. But I’m stubborn, remember? I decided that if my grandmother could birth and nurse 12 kids in the absolute middle of nowhere with only a village midwife for support, then I could f%$king DO THIS. The birthing and nursing, that is. Probably not the 12 kids part.
So finally, after those difficult first 2 months, everything was great. I healed, his feedings spread out, and my milk production calmed the eff down. I’m glad I stuck with it, because I loved it and it worked well for us. Sure, pumping isn’t fun or convenient. And the nursing clothes on the market are total crap (Don’t waste your money! I just wore non-nursing blouses that buttoned). But those little inconveniences don’t matter. This is such a short, short phase, no matter how long (or briefly) you’re able to nurse. I wouldn’t trade those sweet nursing moments for anything and I absolutely believe every mom deserves that experience.
Oh, and guess what? I did use formula occasionally. He had some when he was in NICU, and we used it here and there if I didn’t have enough stored milk ready. And he was fine. So if you can’t nurse, stop worrying. Your kid will move on to cheerios and goldfish soon enough.