six months (of hating breastfeeding)

Half a year ago today, my adorable melonhead of a son was born, and my foray into the harrowing world of breastfeeding began.

I know you’re thinking, “But Becca, your breasts are perfect. Why would you want them absolutely ravaged?”, to which six months ago, I had no single, solitary answer.

I had four of them:

  1. My ego also needed sustenance. I felt like I needed to do this so I wasn’t an absolute failure of a woman.
  2. Breast milk is free.
  3. I wanted that mystical bonding experience I’d read so much about.
  4. I could finally fulfill my lifelong dream of making complete strangers feel uncomfortable by legally exposing myself in public.

nursing in public funny

In all seriousness, I knew it was going to be hard. I suspected I’d probably even shed a few tears.

Once again, that idiot had no idea what was coming.

The odds were stacked against us from the get-go. Due to my baby’s aforementioned melon-sized cranium and a litany of other nonsense reasons (okay, decels are a pretty good reason), it was decided 10 hours into my labour that Liam needed to be cut from my uterus versus being pushed on outta there.

Don’t get me wrong: my intact ladybits are grateful for this decision (let’s be honest, that nearly 9-pound fetus would have left them looking like some sort of battlefield), but what I didn’t know, was that cesarian birth super sucks when it comes to the odds of having a successful breastfeeding experience.

According to Anne Smith, an international board certified lactation consultant:

  • Nursing as soon as possible after birth provides the stimulation needed to bring the milk in faster. Women who give birth via c-section can’t breastfeed right away, because, you know, druggy-drug, stitchy-stitch. My milk didn’t come in for FIVE DAYS. I wasn’t able to hold my baby until nearly an hour and a half after he was born, but at least I was really, really high.
  • Cesarian babies are generally more lethargic and drowsy than babies born vaginally, due to the medley of drugs administered to the mother pre-surgery. Have you ever tried to get a stoned newborn to eat? Just let me sleep, ma.
  • As a baby travels through the birth canal, compression and contractions help to squeeze mucous from the lungs; however, if a baby is born via cesarean, this process does not occur and mucous can remain in the baby’s lungs after birth, which can impede nursing. Gross.
  • Surgery hurts. Imagine trying to manoeuvre a surprisingly large baby to your breast with a fresh, throbbing abdomen wound. Can’t do it, can you?

And that was just the beginning.

Next came the three-week-long battle with learning how to breastfeed at home, and a lengthy and terrifying dairy-and-soy-protein-allergy hospital ordeal. After these experiences, I hadn’t wanted to quit anything so badly since my mother forced me to enroll in Girl Guides.

And quite frankly, I still do to this day–six months later.

dairy cow breastfeeding

The breastfeeding, not the Girl Guides.

Expectation versus reality is a wonderful thing, folks. Remember the four reasons I listed for wanting to breastfeed?

Let’s revisit them now, shall we:

  1. Ego
    The whole formula vs. breastmilk debate is obnoxious. Sometimes it isn’t a choice. Babies need to be fed somehow, and if you think a woman is a failure for giving her baby formula instead of breastmilk, I invite you huck yourself out of the nearest window.
  2. Free food
    Yep. Breastmilk is free. Which is great, because it freed up all the extra cash I needed to buy my baby all those toys he never plays with. Money does not equal happiness, and I can’t imagine a scenario where that rings more true than this (I’m a prisoner, help me).
  3. Bonding
    I’ve never rocked back and forth gently in my chair as I gazed lovingly down at my nursing infant. My experience has gone from frantically trying to keep him awake long enough so he eats a couple of ounces, to failing to control him from wriggling out of my lap–so no, I can’t say any bonding has ever happened in the nursing chair. We bond in a ton of other ways though, like over our mutual love of puking all over the floor, and kitties.
  4. Exposure
    This one still stands.

If I quit breastfeeding tomorrow, he’ll still light up the first time he sees me in the morning. He’ll still reach out and touch my face as I lean in, and giggle whenever he hears my embarrassingly high-pitched squeal calling out to him.

My ego will also be fine. Someone once said to me that every ounce I’ve given him is a gift, and it’s stuck. We fought a damn hard battle on so many fronts, and won each time. I will forever be proud of that.

My wallet on the other hand–well, that’s a different story.

Good thing it’s only money.

that flicker

I never really wanted to be a mother.

I just didn’t think I had it in me–whatever it was. That thing that most women possess somewhere deep down that gives them the capacity to care for something other than themselves. My life was just too easy. Too fun. The cycle of self-serving, unapologetic alcohol-infused bullshit never seemed to end, and that seemed to suit me just fine.

But today, as I–in true Becca fashion–nurse an unpleasant hangover, I am inexplicably at peace as I ingloriously munch away on that last piece of humble pie.

I never really wanted to be a mother.

But on a warm day last fall, it was taken away from me very early, and I felt something shift. Maybe I did want this. Maybe this was my chance to be better.

I wrote this when I was six months pregnant, remembering very early on the terrifying few hours where I thought I may be losing another one.

mother's day

I’m not sure many people can pinpoint the exact moment where everything changed.

But I can.

It was the moment I saw that flicker.

Happy Mother’s Day.