Monday, April 09, 2007

Thanks Mom

Lately I find myself doing something I really don't want to be doing.

And that is this:

I'm very judgemental of moms who don't breastfeed.

Not out loud, and not on purpose, and I told myself ahead of time I wouldn't be a mommy judger and I'd just mind my own damn business, but the judgement happens, in my head, all the same, despite all this. Of course I wish I wasn't like this, and so I'm working on not doing it, and as I thought about how to not be like this I started thinking about why am like this and I think it's the same reason that while I was in the process of losing sixty pounds I was so judgemental of everyone else who wasn't. I was extremely judgemental of the larger person in my office who ate a bag of Chex Mix every day as a snack and I couldn't help myself then either, and the reason I think I do this is because when I work so hard at something, it's really hard for me when other people don't.

In other words, dieting sucks. NOT eating the ice cream sucks. And guess what? Breastfeeding sucks too. It's really hard and it's never ending and it's just not something I really enjoy. I do it anyway, because it's something that's important to me. Just like I DIDN'T eat the bagel. But when you are making yourself do something that is really difficult and that often times sucks and that you wouldn't choose to do if there were any other way, it makes you really bitter towards all the other people who aren't choosing that path. Not eating the bagel makes you kind of hate the bagel eater even though you know all the good reasons why you shouldn't. Breastfeeding is so hard, and I am making myself do it any way, and so I judge people who don't.

Man, that sucks to admit that, because it makes me sound like a huge asshole, I know. Maybe it's just that simple. I need to not judge people who chose another way because otherwise I am a huge asshole. And there's really no excuse for it, sadly.

The more I think about it the more I think that my problem is that breastfeeding is a thankless task. Although I have convinced myself that it is of the utmost importance that my child never consumes a drop of formula, let's be honest here...we'll never know if it made a damn bit of difference in anything, in the long run, and he'll almost certainly never say thank you, at least not out loud. When was the last time you called up your mom and thanked her for all the boob time so many years ago? Yeah, me neither.

What it comes down to is this. There's so many good reasons to breastfeed and none of them mitigate the fact that for me, breastfeeding is incredibly hard and I have to force myself to do it every single time and this makes me resent everyone who doesn't. In my search for freedom of this resentment I searched for some deeper meaning, some real reason why I was doing this besides the fact that supposedly someday my son might have improved muscle tone or some other La Leche league hoo ha and all that. And then I remembered that once upon a time, someone breastfed me. My mom sat with me for countless hours and breastfed me for a gazillion years and I never said one word of thanks to her either.

So yeah. I'm breastfeeding. It sucks. And I'm doing it anyway, beacuse someone who loved me once did it for me. And I hope that this circle, this feeling of, I guess, repayment? Will somehow give me a chance to let go.


Trixie said...

It was hard for me to read this post because it is for this exact reason why I feel so much guilt for no longer providing breast milkf for Georgia. We never got the hang of breast feeding and her heart condition had a lot to do with that. And although a lot of people tried to convince me I shouldn't let it get to me, it did. To try an compensate, I pumped a million times a day to provide her with the milk in some fashion though not direct from boob. It was hard--I daresay harder than breastfeeding directly--because it took twice as long to pump and then feed by bottle and often times I was pumping when instead I could have been playing or snuggling with her.

When Georgia just wasn't growing it became clear that breast milk was not providing her with enough calories and we had to start adding calories with formula. This both broke my heart and relieved me. And easy out from all the constant pumping. Because it IS hard. Harder than anyone ever told me it would be. But still, until Georgia had to be hospitalized and have feeding tube put in I persisted with pumping until I just didn't medically have a choice. Sometimes, like in my case, breastmilk is not the best option. Despite all the le leche league hoo ha.

I will probably forever feel bad about it. Though it's getting easier. And I can't help but feel it's necessary to remind you that sometimes people's reasons are as obvious as a tube in an infant's nose.

But. I DO see where you are coming from.

Trixie said...

Sorry for all the typos.

Of course I meant:

people's reasons are NOT as obvious as a tube in an infant's nose.

PastaQueen said...

I hope Eli breastfeeds his kids ;)

I had a history professor who used to talk about a scene in "The Grapes of Wrath" where a woman breastfeeds one of the men because they have no food. It kind of creeped me out because I think it was a personal fantasy of his.

TB said...

Is it okay for me to say that I'm terrified I'm going to feel the exact same way? I'm trying to keep neutral expectations at this point, but I just have a feeling I'm not going to love it either.

Thanks for being so honest. Really.

crankybee said...

My best friend had 2 babies, and she HATED breastfeeding them...until she decided to open a high interest internet bank account. Every week, she deposited the money she would have spent on formula into the acocunt, and after the year of feeding (6 months on each kid) she went and bought herself some kick arse (us Australians wack an r in the arse) knickers and bras, to endure her boobs belonged to her and the husband again, and not the kids. I think it's largely unspoken how much some women hate the experiece, and that's the only way my mate could get through it - with humour! LOL!

Pam said...

Okay, so here's the good side: you don't have to sterilize bottles and haul purified water around, you don't have to shlep around in the middle of the night getting bottles ready, it's always the right temperature and your kid is always getting "enough" and you won't burn the building down, as my neighbor almost did, when you fall asleep while you heat up a bottle in the middle of the night. Oh, and it's good for the kid, too.

Martha Marin said...

Listen. There are PLENTY of legitimate reasons people can't/don't breast feed, Trixie's being a pretty major one.
I was lucky enough to have no trouble with it, and didn't really have a hard time after the first few weeks, but that was not the case for a lot of mothers I know.
If you don't want to be a judgmental mom (and for the love of GOD, please try not to be. There are enough of them out there, and they SUCK.), please try to think beyond your own experiences with something before you do the judging.
Because if this is getting to you? Just wait.
Sorry for sounding preachy, but really. The judgment is so totally unproductive.