Dear pushy breastfeeder,
Before you begin to recite all the benefits of breastfeeding, let me save you the time and just say, I know. I know how good it is for me and for my baby. And contrary to your ignorant belief, I wanted to breastfeed both of my sons for a long time. I wanted it so badly I cried through months of feedings, watched as my son ravaged my nipples until they bled and then cried with him as he wailed for more. I wanted to be able to provide. I wanted to save me and my partner the burden of $100+ extra bucks a month. I wanted to pass on all of my immunity to the baby to prevent the ear infections and the RSV, and to save my relationship the stress of the non-stop medical bills. I wanted to do it to help me lose the baby weight. I wanted to do it for the closeness that I was told only breastfeeding could provide. I wanted to do it because I didn’t want to be a quitter, a pansy. I wanted to do it because I’m a mom and that’s what we’re supposed to do.
I thought it’d be a beautiful bonding experience. But it wasn’t. It was a nightmare. And it broke my heart when I had to do what was really best and move on to formula.
Maybe that’s a hard concept for you to gather because it’s really easy for you. Or maybe because it’s just not that hard. Or maybe, just maybe you are stronger than me. Whatever the reason, trust me when I say I tried and I didn’t take the decision to stop lightly. And trust me when I say it takes all I have not to give you a verbal tongue lashing when you begin to question my personal choices. You weren’t there, in bed with me and my partner, as I quietly sobbed in the dark because I knew my son would be hungry soon. You weren’t there watching me fail time and time again to get my son to latch correctly – when all I could do was lay him down next to me and watch him kick and scream because I needed a minute to let my frustration subside before trying again. You weren’t there with my partner when I sharply accused him of being lazy and looking for an easy solution every time he (terrifyingly) said, “I think he’s hungry”. You weren’t there with me avoiding the frozen food aisles of the grocery store because I was too exhausted and emotionally drained to handle the shooting pains and intense burning that came with being cold, without losing my composure.
And you weren’t there when I was told it was time to exclusively pump because my nipples were two open sores that never really stopped bleeding surrounded by tiny scratch marks from my son’s tiny fingers. You weren’t there all those weeks I was pumping every three hours – night and day – for 15 minutes on each side not seeing a single increase in supply. You weren’t there with my partner the first time I had to supplement with formula and he had to try console my mom-guilt – and then sit through an emotional meltdown because he’d oversimplified the issue and would never understand. He’s only human.
You weren’t there for the multiple bouts of thrush. You weren’t there for all of the fighting. You weren’t there holding my hand at 3:00 am.
You weren’t there and that’s really all that matters. You weren’t there. You aren’t me. And unlike you, I can respect your concern and put myself in your shoes, where breastfeeding isn’t a nightmare. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous. But I’d also be lying if I said I understood where you were coming from every time you condescendingly insinuate I didn’t try hard enough. Or that I’m not as much of a mother. Or that I’m selfish or weak.
Yes, I talked to my doctor.
Yes, I tried to get help.
Yes, it wasn’t enough.
Yes, believe it or not, it was better for me to just move on.
And yes, it’s time for you to stop shoving your lofty, universal breastfeeding agenda down my throat. Because for the first time since having my baby I’m finally able to enjoy him and he’s able to enjoy me. We’re happy – and most importantly, just as healthy as you and your baby.
You weren’t there. You were somewhere else raising your child the way you saw fit. You don’t represent some holy class of mothers. And there are much bigger fish we could both be frying.
So please, find an actual cause to fight for – last time I checked there were plenty of actually worthless never-should-have-been mothers who actually mistreat their kids. Maybe you could do something about that?
The mom who couldn’t, on behalf of every mom who wanted to but couldn’t