I’ve tried. No one can say I haven’t tried. But as I sit here at 5 am having been feeding a baby for the last hour and twenty minutes I think this is the beginning of the end for breastfeeding and me.
In fact, the beginning of the end was probably when I gave Gabe formula when he was just a day old. Or maybe it was when I started using nipple shields on his second feed. Or perhaps when a second or third bottle in the day became the norm rather than the exception about a week ago. Who knows?
I think maybe though that breastfeeding and me are just not meant to be. For me it’s just not the wonderful experience all the breastfeeding literature and baby books tell you it’s going to be. In fact, dare I say it, I simply don’t like it. I don’t feel any special bond with my baby as we sit ‘enjoying’ those breastfeeding cuddles. What I often feel is pain (because yes, even seven weeks on, with nipple shields, it still hurts half the time), and frustration that it takes so long to feed a baby in the way nature intended when I could bottle feed him in a third of the time. I don’t know, maybe cave women didn’t have much to do with their days so they could sit around feeding all day but I have a toddler to look after and a house to run and I just can’t sustain breastfeeding my baby for endless hours of every day.
I know everyone talks about the convenience of breastfeeding; no bottles to wash and sterilise, no formula to prepare, no need to plan ahead because you’ve always got milk on tap, and I suppose it is all those things but when every feed takes over an hour, feeding in public involves trying to get a baby latched on to a nipple shield without showing everyone your entire boob…then suddenly it’s not that convenient after all.
So I don’t really know where we’re going to go from here. I guess I’ll just take it one day at a time. Gabe is already getting half his feeds from a bottle and I reckon by the time he gets to 8 weeks old we won’t be breastfeeding at all.
And yes, it makes me a bit sad. I really hoped that breastfeeding was going to work out for us this time. By Toby’s six week check I wasn’t breastfeeding him at all so we’ve already made it further than that. So Toby was formula fed from about five weeks and he’s turned out OK and I’m sure Gabe will too. There’s still plenty to be proud of; that we made it this far, that I’ve managed to breastfeed in the park, and in the Night Garden(!), that I’ve tried my best to find a balance that works for all of us. I think I just need to accept that breastfeeding and me are not meant to be. But no one can say I didn’t try.