You know how you FINALLY make a decision about something, and you put away your pros and cons list and you vow to forget about it altogether because you made a choice and you did all the fretting and now that you made it you just want to move on with life? And then someone or something comes along and wants you to reopen that can of worms? Yeah, that.
On Friday we went to see the GI specialist, who changed Olivia’s medication, and was strongly in favor of getting her back onto the breast. Try this new medication for 3 to 5 days, he said. Put her to the breast before you bottle feed her, he said. Come back in two months, he said (TWO MONTHS? That’s like an eternity in baby time).
And here’s where I got conflicted. Because if we’d had that very same appointment a week EARLIER, I might have thought this guy was my blessed savior, with his new medication and his unwavering belief that it would work and Olivia would be the sweet breastfed baby straight out of a magazine. But we didn’t have this appointment a week earlier, we had it two days after I’d decided that I was done with the struggle of breastfeeding and I was going to be happy with bottles.
And so it started again- all the wondering and wishing and thinking and turning it over and over and over in my head- what if it did work? What if it didn’t? What if it made things WORSE? I was pretty pissy about even trying what the doctor suggested- putting her to the breast in a no pressure way, have a bottle at the ready if she wasn’t into it. But I did it, with strong misgivings- and sure enough, Olivia continued to be super annoyed with my attempts to breastfeed her and continued to shake in anticipation of the sweet flow of the bottle.
So I said FUCK IT. Loudly, and repeatedly. Maybe the new medicine WOULD get her back to the breast, if I tried hard enough. Maybe if I was patient and calm and maybe if I persevered, I’d get her to breastfeed, but the simple truth is I didn’t WANT to. Breastfeeding was never comfortable to me- I couldn’t figure out how to sit without contortions, or how to hold her so my back wasn’t cramped, and I certainly couldn’t figure out that fucking side-lying position everyone keeps going on about. Add Olivia’s growing capital A anger at the breast and her pure joy at the bottle, and all of a sudden it didn’t seem like dropping the ONE THING that was making us both miserable was that big a deal. I mentally flipped the doctor the bird and have been pumping ever since.
Ever since… ok, fine, it’s only been three days, but at 8 feedings a day that’s an n of 24, so I feel qualified to say that my sample size is large enough. Ever since, everything has been… well, shit, y’all. It’s been AMAZING. I love feeding her. I love knowing how much food she’s getting. I love the way she smiles when she’s satisfied, and I love knowing that I can offer her that, instead of my miserable boob. I love holding her, and SWEAR TO GOD, I even love pumping, because I’m still feeding her with my very own body, and I’m not losing my damn mind in the process. She finishes a bottle, and we’re both HAPPY. No screaming, no consoling, no wondering what the blue fuck was I doing wrong THIS TIME.
This afternoon I left the house to go get a manicure, and I did it with pleasure at having some time to myself, without the back of the mind worry about getting home in time to feed her so she wouldn’t forget how to eat at the breast. And I missed her in a pure way- I missed my daughter, I missed her smile and her weight in my arms, and it was different than the ways I’d felt in the previous times I’d left the house without her. Then I’d felt worried and burdened and annoyed and it sucked all the joy out of my free time, and this time I rushed home to see my baby, my little person, my beautiful smiling daughter. I didn’t rush home to an obligation, I rushed home to my family.
I quit breastfeeding, and I fell in love with my daughter.