I feel like an impostor when I tell someone I breastfeed Charlie because I can’t remember the last time we had a true nursing session. After countless breakdowns on his part (and mine too, who am I kidding?), I made the decision to just pump and bottle feed.
It’s a dark secret that I don’t want anyone to know about because it screams FAILURE to me. Regardless of how hard I tried, or how much I wanted it, or how many lactation consultants I saw, nursing did not work for Charlie and me. My limited supply never increased, his tantrums never stopped, and my stress level kept on rising. My husband will tell you how much happier we’ve all been since I stopped trying, but I still can’t shake the feeling that Charlie somehow rejected me.
So I pump. Six times a day. About 25 minutes each time. That’s 2.5 hours a day, 17.5 hours a week, 70 hours a month.
The majority of the time, I don’t mind. I’m proud that I’ve kept it up, happy that I’m still providing milk for Charlie. But sometimes, usually when I’m sleep-deprived and schlepping into the pumping room yet again while work piles up on my desk, I imagine what it would be like to stop. Imagine the freedom!
But I convince myself to hook up to the machine once more. I’m not really sure why – the knowledge that “breast is best?” Fear of facing the crushing guilt and “judgment” from others? My extreme stubbornness? As you can tell, I struggle with feelings of inadequacy, so pumping feels like a checked box on the “Are You A Good Mother?” test that I’m desperately trying to pass.
My mama asked me tonight how long I plan to keep this up.
“I really don’t know” was the most truthful thing I could say.