I don't like breast feeding. There. I said it. Bring on the judgement. I know I'm supposed to like it. I am supposed to feel these warm feelings of connection with my baby when she nurses. And when she was younger, there was more of that. I did like snuggling her close and hearing her little baby noises. But, now that she is older and much more interested in my smile, her brother, the television, the cats - it's incredibly frustrating to have to keep guiding her back to the breast that she is SUPPOSED to be interested in.
Gone are the days of propping myself up in the bed with the baby, boppy and remote and catching up on episodes of the West Wing while Ben nursed to his hearts content. We had nowhere to go and nothing to do. These days, we are rushing from preschool to Kindermusik to swim lessons and nursing is getting squeezed somewhere in between. Adding to that a toddler who wants me to get down on the floor and play with him and can't understand why I am always having to tell him "no" or "later" and nursing just isn't as relaxing as it once was.
Nursing is not convenient to me. I know it's supposed to be the easiest way to feed your baby because you don't need anything except yourself. Only - I do. For one thing, I need a nipple shield. The nipple shield and I have a love/hate thing going on. I didn't want to use it at first was warned by friends that it was hard to transition off of but the LC at the hospital pushed it and once again we were hooked on it. Those first few months were plagued with guilt and doubt about my skills and what I should be doing. Rather than being glad for the shield and the fact that it saved me from sore nipples and bad latching, I was resentful and guilty that I wasn't doing it right. I worried that my milk supply would decrease and that I would have clogged ducts. I tried repeatedly to transition off of the shield only to find that nursing made me sore and I would go back to the shield all the while feeling like I had failed. But then Alex got sick and I had to cut myself a break. I was more concerned with her comfort than with what I should be doing and reasoned that she was getting the same milk either way. So I gave up on the transitioning and accepted the shield. (I have also avoided LLL meetings ever since as I feel good about where we are at and don't want to be made to feel otherwise).
The other problem I have is that I am lacking in coordination. Despite having a nursing cover, I don't have the skills to nurse in public without flashing people. I don't know how others do this, but between balancing the baby and holding the breast, I am without hands to adjust my cover and keep myself covered. The few times I have used the nursing room at the church, I have also struggled as I did not have a nursing pillow or boppy to support Alex. I finally just used my coat rolled up under her head but it was not the neatest or most convenient solution. So, in these situations, I find it more practical to pump in the car and make a bottle to feed the baby rather than nurse when out and about.
Because of all of this, I feel somewhat tethered. I dread taking trips that are more than an hour away. I don't want to be out for more than a few hours at a time. I find myself feeling anxious about things like a girls weekend with friends, knowing that I will have to stop and pump at least a couple of times a day. I wish I were one of those relaxed women who could just feed their baby anywhere. Who could nurse the baby in a sling while vacuuming the house or shopping for organic produce. I guess that's just not the mom that I am. I am much more the check-list, planner, "everything needs to be just-so" kind of a mom. Which, I suppose, is what makes it hard for me to drop everything and nurse in the Barnes and Noble or at the gym during Ben's swim lesson.*
Don't get me wrong - breast is best. I plan to try to keep the nursing up for as long as possible and I hope we make it the whole year. But when we are weaned, I will not miss drinking decaf, abstaining from alcohol and cold medicine, and wearing ratty nursing bras. I will not miss waking up uncomfortably full first thing in the morning and not being able to go back to sleep because of it. Nor will I miss having to wash nipple shields and breast pump parts. I am sure that when it is over, I will miss the idea of nursing. The closeness, the feeling of her needing me, the sleepy snuggle time first thing in the morning or just before bed. And I will be sad because being weaned means that she is one step closer to toddler-hood. One step further from the tiny, wrinkled newborn I brought home from the hospital. I will be sad because my girl is growing up. But, not because we are done nursing.
*I know moms who can do this, so it's definitely more about my own hang-ups than anything.