Monday, June 23, 2008

To Breastfeed or Not to Breastfeed

There will be no maternity leave to speak of with this pregnancy. I have too many projects I am excited about, too many things I need to get done. This means that I will literally be working on the iphone in the hospital and potentially writing/interviewing the day I get home.

This is daunting.

Today I was sitting in a meeting and it suddenly occurred to me that in less than six weeks, I will probably have a newborn (G-d help me) and getting a babysitter and jetting off to a meeting may not be possible. Why may it not be? Because I need my boob tethered to the kid's mouth. With Sam, I did not leave her for more than two hours almost the entire first year of her life. Yes folks, that is correct. One year. No more than two hours away.

In the months since her first birthday, I have appreciated the sense of freedom that untethering my breasts has given me. I can hang out with friends, be gone all day, leave for a weekend and not have to carry an instrument of torture (ahem, an electric breast pump) or worry my kid will starve.

I do not plan on being so tied to Alijah. It is just not possible. Throughout the pregnancy, I have considered the possibility of not breastfeeding. The idea of formula just seems so much easier. It was hard to wean Sam, but once it was done, I felt so free. I am not anxious to go back to being tied to a chair for eight hours a day. But the guilt. Oh G-d, the guilt. It is the guilt that stymies me and makes me think I should try it. But every time I think of that evil breastpump and that horrible sucking noise, every time I think of having the sole responsibility for my child's nourishment and being unable to run, hang out with friends, drink or have any semblance of a life, I find myself googling, "the finer points of formula."

I know there is nothing wrong with formula and the truth is, I would never judge a woman who chose not to breastfeed. I think there is way too much pressure on women to be this and that and whatever and I know I will never be the perfect mom. My only goal is to be open and honest with my children and as real as I can. The rest they can work out in therapy. But still, I feel enormous guilt at the idea of not breastfeeding this child. There is a part of me that loathes the idea, but there is also a part of me (maybe the latent Midwestern part) that feels that self-sacrifice is the name of the game in parenthood.

"Breast is best," they keep on saying. And I know it is true. But I just cannot get it up to abandon margaritas, coffee and freedom all because breastmilk is probably better than formula.

The truth is, I will more than likely end up breastfeeding, thus nullifying all of my bravado. I know it is the right thing to do (not to mention the economical one). But damn, damn, damn, I don't want to.

Then again, there are a whole lot of things I do not want to do or have that are just six weeks away (read: sleep deprivation, loss of freedom, an abundance of fat cells clinging to my abs). Ready or not, here they come.


Lis Garrett said...

Do not let your guilt determine if you will breastfeed or not. It has to be something you want to do.

When I had Hannah at 21, I just wanted my body back after suffering through one helluva pregnancy. I nursed for three months because I felt I had to, and then I switched her over to formula.

But then I was guilted into breastfeeding Jacob, even though I really didn't want to. I lasted all of a month and resented it BIG time. *although there is a BIG part of me that wonders, had I put forth more of an effort would he have some of the problems he has today . . . there's that guilt*

Of course with Bridget, I was determined to last 6 months. She will be 3 on July 5th and is STILL nursing. I was done a year ago. Obviously, she has other plans.

I think you need to do what's best for YOU. I'll tell you two things: for as long as Bridget's been nursing, she's definitely been my sickest kid. And the other two, for being mostly formula fed, have nary an ounce of extra childhood fat on them.

Kristi said...

Melissa has the best advice: don't do it if you really don't want to. I did it, as you know, and was really glad I did, but for the last 4 months or so, I really wanted to untether myself and get my body (and my freedom) back. As with daycare, people seem to think feeding your baby formula is akin to pumping him full of arsenic. Obviously, you know better.