Mayday, Mayday, my comments are now working! I repeat, my comments are now working!
I appreciate the level of concern shown and I'm so happy to report that I can now reply back to your comments so hitherto no more shall you wonder.*
I just found out that it's World Breastfeeding Awareness Week. I don't know how this escaped my attention. In honor, a little reminiscing is in order.
I have had very different breastfeeding experiences with Micah and Asher, probably mostly due to one being my first experience and the other...not.
Breastfeeding was extremely painful for about the first 4-6 weeks with Micah. Actually, a funny story that kind of has to do with breastfeeding. My first night sleeping with Micah (which would have been his second night of life), I fed him, burped him, swaddled him, and put him back to sleep right next to me. I then laid down to get some much-needed sleep. But alas, an hour or so later he woke up crying and so I fed him, burped him, swaddled him, and put him back to sleep. And then laid down to get some much-needed sleep. The sleep was much-needed. Not sure if you caught that part. Well, this continued for, let's see now if I can remember correctly...the whole night.
And at one point I considered asking somebody if he was okay because he had all of his needs met and I wasn't sure if he knew that because he kept waking up. (I'm serious as a pimple on a 25 year old.)
I came to dread the nights. I knew it would be one wake up, followed by internal pleading to Eat, quickly, please! followed by trying to fall back asleep as quickly as I could to get as much "sleep" as I could before the next nightmare slash feeding after another.
I struggled so much and all of it alone. And only because I was so afraid to tell someone because I didn't want them to think I didn't know what I was doing. Which is funny if you think about it, because I didn't.
This all contributed to my wanting to quit breastfeeding from the very beginning. It hurt. It caused contraction-like pain. It required me being awake all night while I watched Matt sleep through feeding after feeding which in turn caused lots of angry looks and whispered murmurings about how "some" people are so selfish. I simply wanted to quit. If I went to formula then Matt could help feed too. But then it was formula and I'd heard all the judgments there and I didn't want to be That Mom.
I'm ashamed to admit this but I had a person in my life at that time who was so anti-formula and so pro-breastfeeding only that it was fear of her judgment alone that I stuck it out.
I just reread that sentence and I can hardly believe it's true. I feel sorry for the me that I was then. I'm so much more unconcerned now as a mother about what people think of me. In fact I think I've swung to the other side. I recently was part of a "friendly" debate about the Time magazine cover that showed a breastfeeding toddler. My contribution was simply that we shouldn't judge and should instead put our energies toward more important things like children who have no parents at all.
But after reading many of the vicious comments about how "wrong" and "gross" it is, I was tempted to resolve to breastfeed my child until the tender age of 18 and then wean him only because parents perhaps are not allowed in college dorm rooms. I'll show them gross.
But as an insecure first-time mother, that's where I was. I went on to breastfeed him until almost a year but I often longed for the day when I was no longer needed. I had many moments of enjoying the closeness but equally as many of simply wanting my freedom back.
My experience with Asher has been completely different, and I can only think it's because I now have a tiny bit of motherhood under my belt. I know how fast this season goes by and I'm less concerned with my "freedom."
Asher will be a year old this month and we are still nursing 4-5 times a day. I have loved it. It was still very painful in the beginning but I pushed on with the hope that comes from experience that this too will pass.
I've said pooh-pooh to the naysayers on both sides. I breastfeed because I love it and I know that before I know it he'll be grown and this time will be only a memory that I alone will cherish so deeply. The countless secret moments in the dark of cuddling close, of instant comfort, of tears fallen on soft faces, of whispered prayers. I will never get it back.
I don't judge like I used to. I still judge, but not like I used to. It's a process, no? I inwardly cheer on the first-time mama who dares to share in a room full of moms that she's thinking of quitting because it's hard. I was too proud to share and I suffered so much because of it. I inwardly rejoiced at the acceptance and encouragement she received. She's a smarter first-time mama than I ever was and I'm so proud of her for it.
So in honor of this special week, let us resolve to see the mama, the sister, the daughter, the wife, as more important than the boob, the formula, the "right" way, my way.
Happy Boobies Week.
*There was no concern shown but I appreciate that you guys were all internally concerned and just lacked opportunity to express it.