I had toyed with the idea of breastfeeding during my pregnancy but never made an ultimate decision. Breastfeeding is slowly becoming the norm again, and midwives especially are very encouraging and enthusiastic about the boob over the bottle.
I get it.
Breastmilk is a superfood. It is the only superfood babies need for the first six months of life (really the first year).
It’s natural, organic, divine, beautiful, incredible, blah, blah, blah.
It’s great. Really. Breastmilk is cool. Breast, breast, breast. Everyone should breastfeed.
But everyone doesn’t.
Here’s how my first attempt at breastfeeding went down.
After a solid five minutes of skin-to-skin time with [my husband], my son was passed back to me so the midwives could help me breastfeed him.
Let me set the scene.
My husband, myself and our son are all in our bed. There are two midwives in the room, and a student as well who I had never met before (my midwives asked if she could come while I was in the transition stage of labor — I must have agreed because there she was).
My mom is also there. So in total four women are surrounding us — one is my best friend, two I have grown quite fond of, and the other is a total stranger.
By this point, I had managed a trip to the bathroom to pee (blood everywhere) and was wearing underwear and a pad the size of my body.
Otherwise, I was naked.
So in this interesting setup, I take my son and awkwardly hold his face to my boob.
I almost feel bad for the guy.
I mean, my boobs are great and all, but here he is fresh out the womb and his face is being smashed into a nipple.
At this point, the student midwife (stranger) comes over and corrects my positioning. She tells me to hold him like a football. She smashes his face more into my boob. He opens his mouth wide, but doesn’t latch.
She then proceeds to tell me to “Hold [my] breast like a sandwich.”
Hold my breast like a sandwich?
Hold my breast like a sandwich?!?
What in the actual.
Even in my post-birth delirium/high (or maybe because of it), I found this statement the most ludicrous thing I had ever heard in my life.
Turns out, as I discovered after my second birth, it’s typical breastfeeding talk.
So I awkwardly attempted to squeeze my boob into a sandwich, but it was…weird. Because boobs are not sandwiches. No lettuce, no bread, no deli meat. No sandwich.
Again, my son did his best by opening his mouth wide, and yet something wasn’t quite working out. And I was exhausted from 24 hours of labor.
After a few more minutes of sandwich breasting, the student could sense my frustration (I wasn’t hiding it).
“Do you want to keep trying?” She asked.
“No,” I said.
And my husband was off to buy ready-to-feed formula (because apparently powder isn’t good enough for new babies).
That night, my mom got up with my son for his night feedings in the guest room so we could get some much needed sleep. She fed him formula, in a bottle.
And other than a handful of half-hearted attempts, I never tried to breastfeed again.
I did, however, pump, and I did so for four months. So my son had a combination of formula and breastmilk, and I hooked myself up to a machine every few hours for four months and felt like a lactating cow.
It was super.
At four months, Chris and I went to Florida for a week (with my mom and son), and I stopped pumping for good.
It actually was super.
Do I feel guilty for not breastfeeding?
I did initially. I even got pretty upset over it one day. Especially because I felt I did not have a legitimate reason to not breastfeed.
But guess what?
I didn’t need a “legitimate reason.” As my daughter’s midwife told me, formula is not poison.
And to be frank, formula feeding is easy.
It made night feedings not so bad because I could alternate with my husband. While I was struggling with finding my identity again post-birth and in the midst of new motherhood, I didn’t also have to deal with feeling like I was the only food source for my son.
I honestly do think breastfeeding is wonderful. I applaud all mothers who do it for any length of time. Breastmilk has many good things that formula does not.
But formula is also food, and my son is now 18 months old and thriving.
And at the end of the day, the important thing is our children are fed.
And mine was. Just not from the sandwich boob.