I hate breastfeeding. There you have it: The one thing you're not allowed to say in our culture.
We can talk sex, drugs and rock n' roll, but no one is allowed to say "I hate breastfeeding" at a time when public health, the hospitals, the midwives, the World Health Organization and your mother-in-law advocate breastfeeding for up to two years of baby's life. But I hate it. And here's why.
Just the other night, I spent an hour waking my 10-day-old baby from a most glorious evening nap. (She's a bit sleepy and the consultants – yes, they have highly paid consultants for breastfeeding – told me I had to feed her a minimum of every three hours 'round the clock. Strike one for breastfeeding.)
I gave her a bath, tickled her toes, and got her completely naked, all while she slept peacefully. When she finally woke up after three-quarters of an hour of terrible abuse, I spent the next 45 minutes trying to latch a screaming, red, naked thing on to a painfully full breast to no avail. (Strike two for breastfeeding). I then danced around the living room half naked to Lullabies of the World for a quarter of an hour (strike three), only to trick her into suckling while we were still moving.
I finally sat down in the designated breastfeeding chair, which has become a near-permanent part of my butt due to the 17 hours each day I spend there (strike four). I was sweaty and exhausted, but fully prepared to look down at baby's gorgeous little face and coach her through the feed. Would you believe it? There was Little Darling with her left hand beside her cheek, and I kid you not, she was flipping me the bird. (Strike five.)
No doubt about it, breastfeeding really sucks. (Pun intended.) You can call me selfish – and I'm sure you will – but frankly, I have better things to do than sit in a chair for an hour every two hours and tickle the toes of a sleepy baby. I could be working, exercising, playing with my other children, or cooking a meal. Crikey, in 17 hours a day, I could be writing the world's greatest novel! But nope, there's me, tethered to a chair, attempting to nourish the baby and watching basic cable to take the edge of the boredom.
This is the third time I've done this, so it's not a matter of novelty. I stuck it out with the other two because of the purported health benefits for both mother and baby, despite the fact I believe some of them to be overblown. Sure nursing a baby helps your uterus to contract post-birth, for example. But frankly, what's come off my middle has certainly just been tacked on to my rear end, on which I sit all day. Can we say pear-shaped?
I may be the only one bold enough to say it out loud, but I know there are other moms thinking daily about how much they hate breastfeeding. In fact, just the other day, a friend and first-time mother had this to say on Facebook:
"Everyone talks about pregnancy and cravings. No one tells u about hunger, feeding a baby, no time for food and a feed/sleep schedule. I just ate a cob of corn standing beside the garbage after it sat in a pot cold for 6 hrs in under 3 minutes."
And that, my friends, is the reality of a breastfeeding mother. I haven't even touched on the pumping, wet face cloths, cracked nipples and such. Believe me, there's nothing glamorous about this exercise, despite public health's attempts to make you think so. For the sake of a few dollars and the potential to ward off cancer, I'll keep going for the moment. But if Little Darling flips me the bird again, I may just have to get out the bottles.