It seems like everyone’s got something these days, right? I joined Twitter and updated the Instagram profile that I made to track one friend so I figured I’d hop on this Butthurt bandwagon too.
I don’t breastfeed my son. I tried for the first two days of his life. He squalled all of the second night until I accepted some formula from the nurses. “Accepted” is a bit passive. More like I
begged asked for it and had to sign a form saying that they weren’t forcing me to use it and that giving my newborn formula officially made me a bad mom. Eh. Maybe it didn’t verbatim read that last part but that’s how they made me feel.
When I came into the hospital to deliver, I told them that I would be breastfeeding. I was producing colostrum, the nutrition rich pre-milk that occurs before there’s let down of actual milk, so I figured I was on the right track. Lots of women don’t get let down until three days after they’ve given birth.
If I knew about the three day thing, why’d I give up after two? Because I was on edge and my baby couldn’t sleep for being hungry. People came to prod one or both of us every few hours. My insides felt loose and gone was the comforting, undulating bump that had kept me company for so many months and such a great distance. (We moved from Guam, our home of three years, to the Houston area after a stop in Florida where I didn’t see my husband for a month and some change.) In place of my silent travel companion was a tiny stranger who needed to come before anything else and, by day two, I was already failing.
I talked to the nurses and saw the breastfeeding consultants. “Breast is best. It’s natural and every woman can do it. There’s just something wrong with the latch or positioning or maybe the baby has a tongue tie.” Fuck every single person who says that.
A new life just came out of me and nothing I read prepared me for this. There are cases when it really doesn’t work. My let down never happened. I wasn’t producing enough colostrum to fill his walnut-sized tummy. Our last day in the hospital I was supposed to see the consultant again. They were taking a while because lots of babies had been born around the same time mine was. I ended up clutching the baby, crying great wracking sobs over his dutifully, albeit lopsidedly, covered head.
“Please don’t let them come. Just call and cancel”, I begged my husband between shuddering breaths and sniffling snorts. He tried to soothe me and I yelled at him to “just cancel the fucking consultation.”
Almost a year later, we’re getting to the part where my fragile feelings are bruised. When I see a breastfeeding mom at the mall, I try to telepathically send a high five but I’m sure some of them think that I’m being critical. Every time I see another meme or post about how great breastfeeding is and how superior it is to formula, I feel like I’m being criticized. When I see the breastfeeding mom giveaways, I get a little jealous. I feed my baby. I use stuff for it too. Shit, maybe I’d like the chance to win a new top because I’m somebody’s mom.
If you search for new mother nutritional needs, you’ll find all sorts of suggestions for keeping milk supply up or what benefits mom and baby. Apparently, if you’ve had a baby and you’re not breastfeeding, you have the same nutritional requirements as someone who’s never popped out a person. I mean, why would your calcium stores need to be replenished or your iron levels kept up? It’s not like your body is doing anything, slacker. Sure, maybe it’s healing from being a life support incubator for close to ten months and dealing with the traumatic exit of its previous occupant. Suck it up. Eat a sandwich or some Lucky Charms. It’s not like you’re doing anything worthwhile if you aren’t breastfeeding.