Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Begrudging Breastfeeding

In the past 17 months of breastfeeding my daughter, I have not ONCE said to myself “what was I THINKING when I decided to breastfeed??”

At least not until this past Saturday.

Let me make this clear: I am a TERRIBLE sick person. I am so envious of the folks who can walk around with a monster-truck of a headache, totally plugged nasal passages, and a whooping cough, and play it off as if it’s a “whatever”. Unfortunately, I’m NOT one of those people. If I get a headache, I immediately assume it is being caused by a tumor. Nasty nasal congestion? My immune system is obviously fritzing due to something much BIGGER going on inside my body. And when I develop a cough, I am sure I’ve come down with tuberculosis. So yeah, I guess you could say I’m kind of a hypochondriac (but not the no-shaking-hands-a-la-Howie-Mandell kind, just the I-feel-ill-therefore-I-must-be-dying kind).

So on Saturday, I got a whammy of a cold. Emmy had been kind enough to share her nasty germies with me. It was the super trifecta of illness: body aches and fever, congestion, and one of those please-kill-me-now dry coughs. My body felt like it had been run over by a bulldozer, and my head felt like it had gone deep-sea diving. I didn’t have the energy to do ANYTHING... other than complain about my body’s sudden rebellion.

And complain I did. I complained to Emmy. I complained to my reflection in the mirror (“who the hell are YOU? And where did you put my healthy happy face??!) I complained to the box of aloe-infused tissues (my new BFF). I complained to the local news reporter on the television who was talking about what a glorious day it was outside (“you want GLORIOUS?? I’ll give you GLORIOUS… cough.. cough.. blaaaaaah).

And throughout all of my beautiful rants, Em was right by my side, wanting to nurse. Because she too was terribly ill. Poor babe. She had all the same symptoms as I did. She needed comfort. She needed to be nurtured. Most of all, she needed breastmilk!! Every. Fifteen. Minutes.

Of course, Em didn’t give a hoot that I could hardly lift my pinkies because it hurt too much. She didn’t mind that a fever made my whole body sweaty and icky. Au contraire, mon frère! My state of utter disgustingness seemed to make me even more appealing to her (“Woo hoo! Mama’s woozy and coughing up a lung! It’s feeding time!”)

And what was I gonna do? Deny my sickly child her only source of nutrition (she refuses to eat anything else when she is sick)? Of course not!

More than anything, I just wanted to have a few hours “off duty”, you know? I needed a little time to myself, so I could heal and feel semi-normal again. Mmm… that didn’t happen. My hub tried to help and distract Em, but she cried and cried and could only be consoled by one thing: my breastmilk. And so I did my mama duties, and fed Em. Much to my achy, breaky body’s dismay, I breastfed on demand, giving Em as many of my delicious antibodies as she wanted. Not so lovingly, or so willingly, I’m sorry to report. But I fed her nonetheless.

I wish I could say that I was a trooper about it. But the truth is, towards the end of the day, I broke down and just BAWLED to my hub because I felt like I just couldn’t do it anymore. My body was thoroughly exhausted. I had nothing left to give. I had no more “nurture” in me. And maybe I didn’t say it out loud, but I know that my tired mind was definitely muttering “what in God's name was I THINKING when I decided to breastfeed??”

And then, after crying a couple of times and taking a hot shower (or two, or three), I kinda got over it.

So here I am. It’s Tuesday. I’m still not healthy, per-se. My throat feels like it’s on fire and I have to fight the nagging urge to remove my tonsils with a pair of rusty scissors. I am still complaining to anyone or anything that crosses my path (“Oh, hey there car! Have you heard about how terrible I feel? No? Well, let me tell you…”).

But THANK GOODNESS, the moment of begrudging breastfeeding has passed. I’m done ruing my decisions. And while I acknowledge the validity of my 24 hour not-so-gung-ho mama attitude, I’m so happy that my body is back to feeling like its nurturing self again, and I once again love breastfeeding just as much as Em does.

Have you gone through a similar situation? Have you ever begrudged breastfeeding for more than 24 hours? I would appreciate any feedback that would make me feel less guilty about my horrible attitude. :)


  1. I know just how you feel. I have never been as ill as you seemed (or as ill as you thought you were :-D) but I have definitely felt like a mummy that just did not want to feed anymore and still sometimes feel like that. I remember particularly feeling it when I was feeding both of my babies and I just was a bit tired!

    When it comes down to it though, I cannot imagine giving up. I am one of those crazy 'feed forever' type Mamas so on I go... (at least until the next time)

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I assure you that you have probably been much much more ill than I have been this past week, and you likely just have a much higher pain tolerance than I do (as does anything living on this planet).

      I can't imagine having to feed TWO BABIES while feeling so horrible! Seriously, how on earth did you survive??

      I agree wholeheartedly with you that as tough as the tough times can get, it would be devastating to NOT be breastfeeding. It is unbelievably rewarding on so many levels. I am very UNexcited for the weaning process (which I intend to start when Em is nearing her two year birthday, for health related reasons). I'm kind of hoping Em voluntarily gives up the breast before that time comes (though, from her current enthusiasm, that hardly seems likely).

      Many thanks again for your comment,

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