Saturday, September 11, 2010

What? No Similac?

It happened. Again. Just like it did with my first. Inevitably someone, somewhere during my child's infant-hood will ask the question-

'What? Are you STILL breastfeeding? You're not giving them formula???'

Those are the words that immediately make me feel so incredibly uncomfortable for feeding my baby. The thing is, I don't particularly enjoy breastfeeding, I just don't. Don't get me wrong, there are parts I enjoy, the cuddling, the nursing faces, but ultimately I just don't enjoy doing it and I am not doing it for my enjoyment. Comments like the above only reinforce some of the negative feelings I have about doing it, it furthers my paranoia about NIP (covered, even), and I just freaking hate it.

So R is now almost exactly 3 months (*Gasp!* Already?) and I have been exclusively breastfeeding him because, simply put, that is what is best and I am able to do it. While my inlaws were here I got pressure to 'supplement' but I admit I was prepared for that. What I was not prepared for was an evening at a friends house (whom I knew was pro-formula) where she asked me-

'Your still doing that? No Similac? Why?'

Awkward moment considering I was sitting in her living room (covered) nursing him right then and would (of course) have to nurse him 3 more times while we were there. She explained that she had tried (briefly) with her first but just didn't like it and didn't even try with her second (There, see, for those of you who think I walk around with my nose in the air hating on those who FF, I actually have friends who are anti-boob!). Here I was nursing (exclusively) at 3 months- MONTHS, and she couldn't believe I was still doing that.

I smiled, said that well, you know, it's what is best and I can do it and you know in 3 more months he'll be starting solids and he won't be doing it so much. However I feel kinda like crap about it still. I feel awkward and uncomfortable. I know (her being one of the sweetest most caring person I know) that she wouldn't intentionally do anything to make me feel that way, that she asked out of genuine bewilderment, and curiosity. I feel, though, that the 'damage' has been done and I don't know how to repair it.

The entire way home that night all I could think about was spending my next 'paycheck' on getting a pump, bottle, and accessories. Nursing in public has always been incredibly difficult for me, and I had actually been feeling incredibly proud of myself for making sure that I was going out to places like the mall, the park, the library, even when I would have to nurse. Now though I know that I will have even more trepidation about stepping out, even though I do so covered. Each glance will bring me to the conclusion of 'I know they must be wondering why I don't just bottle feed, why don't I just give formula, why don't I just pump!', even if all they are doing is looking at the soda machine behind me wondering when a can of soda started costing more then 2 gallons of water.

Yeah, I get into my own head a little to much. I know that this is something I have to strive to overcome, that I can't let it interfere with what I know is best. All I want, is for those people who would ask that innocent little question (or one just like it) to not. Don't ask it. Breast Milk isn't harmful (obviously exceptions apply but I think we all know what they are) and so if you see someone nursing a newborn, or a not so newborn, or a baby who is nursing while eating crackers, or a toddler- really, it's o.k. They are nursing them because it is what is best-period. And that is all you need to know.

Wish them the best, ask how they are doing with it, and offer some support. Please, because breastfeeding even if physically easy (which it may not be) can still be pretty effing hard.


LorelNicolette said...

Nursing in public used to be hard for me too. Affirmations helped a lot. I would repeat to myself, "I will not allow ignorance to interfere with my baby's hunger". Then one day I did it...I nursed without a cover. It was nerve racking, but gave me the confidence to do it again. Now the only time I use a cover is if I am surrounded by a crowd of people. Otherwise, I just pull down my shirt and put a burp cloth over my chest.
It does get easier with time and practice. Just keep reminding yourself that YOU are doing the normal thing by feeding your baby as God/nature intended.

Wolfmother said...

I'm sorry to hear that you receive comments along those lines, it must make you anxious sometimes! But know that you are doing what feels right for your baby and if anyone has issues with it, it is their baggage not yours. Our culture has forgotten what it is like to nurse our young and now we have to re-learn everything all over again.

By the way my son is now 13 months and is still nursing a lot so I wouldn't put much faith in your child slowing down either. Especially at the 6 month mark when they nurse like newborns again. This is the time most well-meaning people like family and doctors will suggest supplementing because it seems like your supply is dwindling but it isn't; it is regulating and your child nurses more to stimulate more milk production for their growth spurt. A few of my friends got tricked into supplementing at this time and they lost their milk supply and then felt that they had to use formula from then on. Just a friendly warning!