Okay, I nursed my first child for a full year - amazing feat right? I loved the closeness and the bonding and feeling like I was really still solely responsible for growing my baby from a fetus to a person. It also helped that my first baby was (and still is) born as headstrong as the day is long and she would not have anything to do with a bottle (or a pacifier for that matter). She was a boob or bust kind of gal from the get go, which left me little choice in the matter of breastfeeding.
Cut to Bambino #2. He is huge. He eats a ton. My boobs hurt all the time and it is sapping my energy to play with the first little nugget I created. My daughter also has a keen ability to land directly on my right boob with her elbow, butt, head, knee, foot or hand with almost every move she makes - even if we're just sitting watching one of the many Princess movies. It is KILLING me. Then she tells everyone that I "yell" because I wince in pain. Awesome.
I also eat cookies constantly because I am starving right after I nurse him and they are readily available this time of year, so I have put ON 8 pounds since I got home from the hospital. Oh the joy of Holiday Babies. I did the same thing with Abbey. Spare me the tip about grabbing an apple instead for the moment...I am also emotionally eating since this whole thing isn't turning out to be as fantastic as I remember it. I am having enough of a shame spiral on my own - not to mention those women who breastfeed and have the weight "just fall off" - I hate all of you just a little bit, but in the nicest way possible. :)
Basically, I am not getting the bonuses of breastfeeding that I did the first time. I don't feel solely responsible for this amazing little person's growth - mainly because, luckily, he will take a bottle. This has turned out to be a blessing and a curse. I now get a bit of sleep, which is nice and I guess four hours of sleep in a row should make me less grumpy than two in a row (I'm not sure it has, but it should!). I also do get some time to be just with Jake, which is nice for the few times I am nursing him without anybody else around (rare in this holiday season and with a toddler) or so exhausted I am basically asleep sitting up. Other bonuses: a glass of wine here or there, husband gets to feed Jake once a day and I know theoretically I COULD go somewhere without Jake going ballistic on someone because he's hungry and wants nothing but the boob. Downside: for some reason, this one non-breastfed feed a day is making me feel like I am not doing enough for my baby...I think I am going insane.
So, I have almost quit entirely several times due to pain, frustration, hormonal fits of tears and rage, wanting to spend time with Abbey - lots of reasons. They are all very selfish reasons, granted. Now, I am SO SO HAPPY that I never went with my knee-jerk, wa-wa, id responses. I am not getting anymore out of it on my end - and thank god have realized that that really isn't the point. The happy little fluttery feelings I got from exclusively nursing Abbey are a bit romanticized anyway (had I had a blog back then, you would all know about the day I went ballistic on my husband for bringing home a sandwich with cheese on it because I had to stop eating dairy while nursing her and I had a hard time with that to say the least!). Not only do I tend to romanticize it, which I think is totally fine, I think I will eventually feel the same way about nursing Jake, and in the meantime, I may have saved him from being hospitalized.
Three of my nephews have RSV, which Abbey caught at 10 days old and it eventually landed her in the hospital with pneumonia at 6 weeks of age. It was awful and I have been doing everything imaginable to keep Jake from the same fate - including breastfeeding him. I was not convinced that breastfeeding really could help a child not contract something thanks to my own antibodies because clearly I failed with that when it came to Abbey, but I am a convert. Jake was with those nephews on Christmas Day, and Abbey has a bad cough and a slight fever now (I think she's going to be fine by the way - it sucks that she's a little sick, but I'll take it over what my sisters' kids are going through), so she is also a potential germ-giver, but Jake is making it through. He has a little cough and snot, but again, nothing like what my sisters' kids have. All hail the breast milk!
Bottom line: I've been feeling really guilty for not really having my whole heart in this breast feeding deal this go around, but I am not going to feel that way anymore. Even if I am not loving it yet, I am still doing it. Even if I am letting him have one feed a day of formula so I can save my sanity, I am doing the other 7-9 feedings a day and that needs to be enough for me to feel good about. Actually, I don't need to feel good about any of it - Jake just needs to grow and stay healthy, so I need to remember that my feelings don't REALLY matter right now much at all, and that is okay. We got through the first six weeks healthily and I am so happy. It is not hurting that Jeff has both kids right now and I am getting some much needed down time (in which I am trying desperately not to feel guilty for not cleaning, doing laundry or working out!). ;)