Suck on this

At long last, this is the breastfeeding post I've been talking about doing for about two months now. I'm sure that sentence will serve to drive away quite a few of you because who really gives a shit about breastfeeding if you're not doing it currently or very near to trying it? I wouldn't have before. Ah well. This is my catharsis, and I hope that at some stage a woman reads this and feels a little less guilty if she is unable to breastfeed. Yup, that's me...patron saint of disenfranchised breastfeeding failures everywhere.

I've already told some of the story when I discussed P.'s birth and labour tale. Though I tried constantly to get P. to latch on properly for the week we were in the hospital, it never worked. I ended up pumping and was confident that I would be able to keep this up for as long as necessary. The Dude went out and bought a fancy electronic pump, and by the time I was sent home I was gradually getting over the disappointment of not being able to breastfeed. I thought that I was doing the next best thing for the baby and it still proved that I was trying to make an effort for this to work, even if it was not by the most conventional means.

When you decide to exclusively pump, you walk into a world that requires you to be a slave to the vile little electric creature. Not only do you need to look after a new being that needs you all the time, you must find time to sit in a chair, squeeze your tit into the phlange (what a horrible word) and pump like hell for 30-45 minutes at least 6 times a day. Many pumping moms do it every 2 hours, but fuuuuuck that. I managed about 6 on most days and that was a major trial. Thinking of doing it twice that amount, well...my poor boobs are wincing at the mere thought.

Now, you would think that such dedication would demand respect, right? No such luck for the pumping ladies I'm afraid. Rather than being in awe of the sheer dedication required, all I heard was how I should be breastfeeding, and "Hey, have you thought about breastfeeding?". You know, that rather new invention? I mentioned how my Mom harped on about the breastfeeding issue, this despite the fact that she witnessed me chained to the pump in between changing dirty nappies, consoling a crying baby, and giving bottles. All of this on very little sleep.

Everyone had advice, and apparently even after 9 weeks of pumping, people still feel the need to weigh in. I took P. for her first round of immunisations yesterday, and the nurse just couldn't help herself. "This isn't my place, but have you tried breastfeeding again?", she said slyly before I punched her in her stupid face. If you don't feel it's your place, SHUT THE FUCK UP. My ears are ready to fall off with all the breastfeeding crap that comes from all directions. Everyone has an opinion, and for some strange reason they feel as if it is fine to judge me for my decision regarding my own child. The most amazing thing is that they must feel as if I care and want to hear what they have to say on breastfeeding. I don't! Please, keep it to yourselves because otherwise The Dude is forced to listen to my rants on the gung-ho breastfeeding contingent until he comes to the conclusion that there will be no second child because what if there are breastfeeding issues again? He would not be able to bear sitting through my extensive complaining sessions another time around. He doesn't have enough hours in his days.

The breastfeeding brigade would be most disappointed to learn that I have given up the pumping altogether as of yesterday. I am fearing the telephone conversation with my Mom when I break the news. I wasn't getting enough sleep given the need to pump every time P. fell asleep, so The Dude and I agreed that it was getting ridiculous. This move was precipitated by a 2am breakdown by yours truly because I had only managed to get about 4 hours of sleep in the previous 24 hour period. To think that further failed attempts at breastfeeding would yield an even more calamitous time...well, I'd rather not think of that.

Those people that think that breastfeeding should be done at all costs - I invite them to my house when it's midday, I'm not yet dressed, P. is crying hysterically and so am I. That is just a day when I've not slept and food has not even been taken into consideration. Imagine this scenario if I was still struggling to breastfeed or putting pressure on myself to keep up my milk supply and pump. If they would like to talk me down from the ledge each time it all gets too much, then I'll consider the dogged persistence it requires to stick with breastfeeding when there are difficulties.

What frustrated me more than my inability to do yet another basic female function (thanks body, a hearty "Fuck you!" to you too!) was the relentlessness of the rabid breastfeeding devotees. I already felt like a failure, and their insistence that P. and I should take to breastfeeding exaggerated that all the more. P.'s inability to latch on properly could have been due to her prematurity as well as her heart murmur. Often premature babies, even those that are slightly premature, have not yet developed the proper sucking mechanism to latch in the correct manner. Additionally, babies with heart murmurs are tested most during feeding as it requires twice the energy that the average newborn must commit to sucking at the breast. My poor kid had enough problems with these issues and the jaundice, she didn't need the countless stream of midwives calling her lazy because she couldn't get the hang of breastfeeding.

The cult of breastfeeding dictates that you must do this at all costs, or else you are depriving your child to the point of cruelty. Without breastmilk, your kid will be sickly, allergic to everything from dander to barbed wire, and won't be able to venture out of the house without his or her plastic bubble. This poor child will be riding the short bus while all the breastfed kids ride by in the big yellow bus to the school where they learn physics and calculus, leaving your kid struggling with basic mathematical concepts such as 2 + 4 = 6 at the age of 15.

I would have loved to have breastfed P. Would I trade it for bottle feeding and the time I spent pumping? Hell yes. In the limited time that I provided breastmilk for the bulk of her feeds I did feel as if I was helping her. However, when someone is incapable of carrying on with this, the last thing she needs is a guilt trip. I have enough self-imposed parenting guilt at this early stage to last a lifetime, so excuse me if I'm not keen on being told how I've already put my child at a disadvantage. Surely a new mother needs to be supported regardless rather than reminded constantly of her shortcomings?

This is just a heads up dear Statia, prepare yourself for the shitstorm that is ahead. Also, does anyone else giggle when faced with the word "teat"? No? Just me then...


eliz said...

A-freakin'-men sister.

Riley's 6 weeks old and I'm down to pumping once a day. I use whatever I get and a bag from the stash to make up 50/50 bottles until I'm out.

Pumping is HARD. And with going back to work soon, I wouldn't have time to pump except at lunch and that is not going to be enough. Plus my supply is crapping out anyway.

I'm glad I was able to do it at least this long and give her this much of a benefit. I'd really hoped that breastfeeding would work for us- I went to classes, read like mad, you name it. But the girl would simply not stay at the breast and latch well. Even when we try it now. And again, with work/daycare- there's the bottle having to come into play regardless.

I understand your frustration at other people's comments. I groaned everytime I was asked "Breast or bottle?" as if the answer could not be both. And when I did explain, EVERYONE just went by what they saw first and I'd have to correct their thinking again in order to get the correct medical advice/perspective. For crying out loud!!! Is it really so strange that we did this? Is is that hard of a concept in this day and age of pre-packaged everything? And why aren't breastfeeding moms (in general) more supportive of us instead of being horrified we're doing anything but the breast?

And why couldn't my body get this right at least?

If I had more time to be upset about it I would. But there are bottles to wash, diapers to change, and cuddle time to be had.

And that, the cuddle time, is the most important.

Fertility Faux Pas said...

The amount of judgement that surrounds motherhood in general is unbelievable. I can't believe some of the things that come out of people's mouths. If you have to preceed a comment to a stranger with "This isn't my place, but..." then don't fucking say it! What is wrong with some people?

PS I think you are a trooper for pumping as long as you did. Sounds like it really sucked (literally)...

DD said...

Doesn't it really piss you off that you spent the money on the electronic pumping/torture device? We didn't get the hang of breastfeeding either, so we spent a ridiculous amount of money so we could provide breast milk (Guilt Trip: 2001). After about 9 weeks, I put the thing in the closet and never looked at it again.

And now we have to excuse my 4yo son's cleverness and charm with a made-up adoption story 'cause there's just "no way" he could be normal since we didn't breastfeed him for those 4 years.

Rachel said...

Ms P, I am in awe of you for putting up with it for this long. Being a mom is hard enough without outside people giving you shit. And some babies, regardless of prematurity or other factors simply DO NOT want to breastfeed. Some babies just... don't.

I think you're doing the right thing by making sure you are taken care of as well as P. Because more than breast milk, what a baby needs is a happy mamma who loves her and if you are constantly resenting the baby and your own body (more than what would be normal, of course), then that's not good for anyone.

I still think brass knuckles would be a good accessory for you. And maybe a t-shirt or two that says "SHUT UP." That'll show 'em.

One Mother's Journey said...

You gotta do whatever you gotta do. There is no guilt or shame in that...

mm said...

I got a preview of what's to come when I bought nursing bras yesterday. I was in the damn store for all of 3 minutes before I started getting lectured on how I shouldn't stop bfing... no matter what. All this from a woman who looked like she hadn't taken a shower in a week (by choice.)

Jenn said...


Hats off to you for pumping that long. I hate pumping the one time of day I do it.

milly said...

Typing this with one hand - the other holding a torture device squeezing out (the v.little) milk I have left. My twins are now 7 weeks and I managed breastfeeding for 2 - they could do it, but only by inflicting huge amounts of pain and actually leaving me no time to interact with them properly, let alone sleep. I gave up when during a bout of mastitis one of my nipple scabs came off in my son's mouth. I was told by the nazi breastfeeding midwife that he didn't mind!! (but the fact that I couldn't feed them without crying didn't matter). Now when people ask in a manner that implies I'm giving themn poison not formula I tell them the scab story and then describe the scar tissue on my nipples - preferably when they're eating!!

Lut C. said...

What you need is a whistle and a yellow and red card.
Then, when someone utters the word breastfeeding, you whistle in their ear and hand them a red card.

julia said...

Holy crap, woman. I can't believe you hung in for that long.

It pisses me off when people are so judgemental about how you feed your child. At least you're feeding the baby, right? It's not like you've said "Oh well, the boobs don't work. No milk for you, baby. Have this bottle full of Coca Cola instead." Honestly. People just need to be slapped.

You gave it an incredible shot, but even if you hadn't (for whatever reason), who's business is it but yours as to how your child is fed?

Lumi said...

You are amazing. I bitch and moan like a whiny little pussy every time I have to go pump (which is all of ONCE a day)...if I were faced with 6 pumps a day I would have lasted all of 3.8 seconds....just long enough to crack open the Enfamil, prop my feet up on the couch and enjoy another episode of Oz.

Remember what I told you weeks ago "A good bottle feeding experience ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS outweighs a bad breastfeeding experience."

I am all too aware of the guilt/angst that comes with feeling that your female body has failed at a primarily female act.

My failing? "I could not manage to give birth vaginally to my baby, therefore I failed her" (hint: I didn't. She's alive and so am I and that's all that matters)

Yours..."I can no longer provide my baby with breastmilk, therefore I failed her" (hine: you didn't. She's alive and you're alive and she's thriving and gorgeous and highly intelligent and I'm sure already has a better aesthetic touch then I and you are AWESOME."

'Nuff said. I love you to bits.


Mollywogger said...

Oh for fuck's sake.

When the hell will people realize that they're not the experts of everything?

You're doing great. Here's to a happier baby and mum.

Panda said...

jesus tapdancin christ.

When I was feeding Spudly every hour and pumping inbetween and taking drugs to increase my supply and blahblahblah and he still wasnt gaining enough weight I still got the "have you tried to increase your supply" and then when I finally had to admit defeat and go to the dreaded powder the dude at the chemist said "you know, breastfeeding is best for your baby" so that I had to stand there in a shop full of people and say "I KNOW, I just cant produce enough milk". And thankyou so much for allowing me the opportunity to tell 20 strangers that I am a failure as a mother.

This morning I had a thought. When I recovered from my brain actually functioning, I tried to remember what it was. I thought that giving formula was a sign of failure, that only bad mothers give formula - because, as you say, they'll become allergic to barb wire and need to live in a bubble - but I realise now that I would only have failed Spudly if I had stuck with my militant breastfeeding desires no matter what and he didnt develop properly because I was starving him.

OK, sorry to hijack your blog. In summary: you rock, all others are hoopleheads, Miss P is wonderful and now you can regain your sanity.

T said...

Have you tried...heh, heh - okay, get your boot out of my ass. Thanks.

Pumping sucks. That said - bottles suck too. Did you know you have to wash all those little bits EACH TIME? Yeah.

seepi said...

The Flanges are called Tulips in Australia - much cuter.
I've heard that more than 50% of the benefits of Breastfeeding occur in the first 6 weeks, anyway, so just tell em that.
- Or actually - just turn on the waterworks in response to tactless remarks - that'll get em!

rockmama-in-waiting said...

Until I started my adventure into the on-line mothering community, i really had no idea that b'fing could be so hard! It's just the miltant pro-breast propaganda machine that makes it sound like the easiest thing in the world to do. Although I want to give b'fing a whack, if it proves to make my life and my child's life stressful and unhappy, you better believe I'm going to jack it in.

I'm so sorry you've gotten such an awful lot of guilt about it! People who offering useless and guilt-inducing mothering assvice without being asked should go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut.

Susie said...

I failed breastfeeding too. Stand tall, sister, you are doing the best thing for your baby. Healthy mom = healthy child.

Jen said...

You know, I love breastfeeding, and wish that everyone could do it. I am, however, convinced that Satan himself invented the breastpump, and gets a nickel for every chafed nipple.

I think you are amazing for taking all the steps you did, for pumping so long and with such difficulty. I am so impressed by your dedication to continue for as long as you did, even in the face of such obstacles. I hope some day you can take some pride in this considerable feat, instead of feeling disappointment.

You did your best; your daughter is beautiful--end of story. Now go get some rest!

Alexa said...

Anyway, I am very proud of you, and sorry you have been beset by judgement on all sides. YOu are doing a marvelous job.
And you know, my mother tried to breastfeed me, but I would have none of it. I ended up with formula, and I turned out to be quite delightful, if I do say so myself. So there.

tania said...

ugh. Don't even get me started.

I actually received wonderful advice from a lactation consultant of all people - whatever works best for your family is best for your baby.

No guilt necessary.

I wasn't breastfed and look how I turned out!

laura said...

Hats off to you ... a good argument. I'm totally with you. I've been "off the pump" for about a month now, and it's been the happiest friggin month of my life. I like my babies more, I like my life more. And I too fear the "next child" discussion, cause I'm so afraid of breastfeeding again. Hmmm..

Shadiva said...

I'm breastfeeding too. And pumping. And discouraged because I pumped three times today and all I got was a measly 4 oz TOTAL. I feel like I'm starving my baby. I'm either feeding her or pumping and it's hard. I don't care what any of those crunchy granola, feel good, lying sack of crap books say. It's hard.

statia said...

Ok dude, WHAT.THE.FUCK? (heh, "teat"). Seriously, I would have totally said "you're right it isn't your place and entirely none of your business." But if you really had punched her in the face that would have been that much better and I would have been eagerly awaiting for that shit to hit youtube.

The whole thing just makes my blood boil. I just hate that you're judged even though you gave it more than a good college try.

I'm starting to get more aggro as this pregnancy goes on, to the point where if people didn't think I took shit before, oh man, they better glue the asshole SHUT because when I get done with them, they will be shitting out of a new hole.

P.S. Have you tried breastfeeding? I heard it's the best thing and if you didn't, you're a horrible person. *runs*


AnotherAmy said...

One of the blogs I read was getting my daily attention because I was worrying for the childs safety and the mothers mental health. This woman is/was so determined to nurse her baby that the poor thing weighed less than its birth weight at a month old. What the heck is wrong with a society that puts so much emphasis on something that is, in the grand scheme of things, so minor. Yes breast milk is better but formula is fine too. There are several generations of healthy adults who were fed carnation condensed milk watered down and boiled in the bottles to sterilize it.

Liz said...

I am going to have shirts made up that say "If it is none of your business, DON'T ASK" WOW - the gall of some people. I know plenty of women who had problems breast feeding, many who didn't and some who chose not to at all and all of their children are fine. Ironically, the one who was never breastfed has NO allergies and one that was breastfed for 18 months is allergic to everything. Goes to show you, it ain't everything!

Ova Girl said...

Pru you must be getting a bit more sleep now because that was an absolute RIPPER of a post.

this fucking business. hasn't it been hard enough?

teat to them all.