Guest blogger Jill Simonian: Ah, life with a newborn! Eat, poop, sleep, wash bottles ... then repeat. Yup, I said the nasty B-word: BOTTLE. Secret's out folks: I'm not breastfeeding, and I don't feel guilty at all.
I didn't always have this unwavering strength of opinion about the breastfeeding thing. From the beginning of my pregnancy through the day my little girl was delivered, women from all areas of my life asked me if I planned to breastfeed. Friends, relatives, doctors, nurses ... even a few strangers. It was an epidemic. Depending upon who the inquisitor was, I either said, "I'm thinking about it" or "Nope. I've never been into it." The latter answer was the truth; the former was the lie that shot out of my mouth to keep me from feeling guilty at the time.
Breastfeeding is a hot topic for new mothers, and frankly, I'm tired of everyone being so damn interested and judgmental about such a personal choice! That said, I acknowledge and respect the medical research that says breast milk is superior to formula. However, this did not change my decision. The bare truth is that the thought of breastfeeding makes me uncomfortable. I can't help it. Apparently, I am that immature. I could not imagine having my baby suck on my boobies.
I've also heard that it's painful. And that your breasts turn into deflated-tire-like globs and are never the same. For a gal who was flat-chested to begin with, these conditions sounded extra scary and intimidating ... and I wasn't interested in experiencing them firsthand. I know this might seem selfish, but sorry, that's how I feel. (You will not be shocked to find out that my mom did not breastfeed, either. Perhaps I've been subconsciously brainwashed about this subject?)
Even though I made up my mind well before heading to the hospital, the nurses got to me after delivery. Every time I answered the "Do you want us to send in the lactation coach?" question with a polite "No, thank you," I could feel their underlying disdain. I spent three days following the birth of my baby doubting my choice. I cried and cried. My husband thought I was nuts for questioning myself and told me to stick with my original plan if I was going to lose my mind over it (and he's a pediatric doctor, for God's sake).
Long story short, I caved, called in the lactation nurse and tried "pumping" as a compromise. (I still wasn't mentally ready to try breastfeeding directly.) To my surprise, pumping wasn't that bad; it didn't hurt and I actually found it fascinating to see what my body was capable of producing. I also felt politically correct about supplementing my baby's formula with what nature intended.
That positive attitude lasted exactly eight days. After a few episodes of painful engorgement, stained sports bras and minimal milk production, I opted to ice my chest and shut down the dairy factory before my throbbing little tatas exploded into a million pieces in the middle of the night. I'm glad I tried to change my initial opinion about breastfeeding, but it just didn't work. And I was now OK with it.
My question to myself (and you) is: As a grown woman, WHY had I felt that I needed to compromise my own personal comfort and make excuses to others in the first place? To those women who are at ease breastfeeding: More power to you! But it's not for all of us. I don't judge breastfeeding proponents; why should they judge me? I am exhausted from the ongoing and heated debates comparing breastfeeders to bottle feeders, and insinuating that women who do not breastfeed are uncompassionate mothers.
As women, we collectively cherish our freedom to shape our lifestyles, careers and families. Let each mom feed her baby however the heck she wants without passing judgment! As long as the baby is eating, he/she will be fine! My baby has been on the bottle for over a month now, and we are bonding, thriving and happy.
To my fellow formula-feeders: Don't ever feel guilty about what you're comfortable with, and don't let any walking milk makers boss you around.