Thursday, January 24, 2013

TT How I Could Have Paid For Animal's College Education

I don't talk very much about breastfeeding.

Women have such strong opinions on the subject and feelings are often entangled in those opinions. You can never "win". There's nothing you can say that someone wont take offense too. Even though it's a personal choice, and every family is different, some women still feel the need to tell you how your choice sucks.

Also because some women really wanted to breastfeed, tried to breastfeed, and tried again and it just didn't work. Or they hit some stumbling block and had no one to turn to get the advice and encouragement that they needed, they gave up, maybe feel defeated and cheated out of a loving experience they hoped to share with their little bundle of joy. They don't want to hear about another woman's success. It's maybe catty, but maybe I can understand that.

For those reasons I don't share my experience nursing my son with just anyone unless asked. I don't hide it, but I also don't just joyfully share my happiness or my pride, in myself and in my body.

I thought for this week's Theme Thursday I would openly share a few thoughts on, and only about my personal experience with breastfeeding.

I, being a tree hugging hippie at heart, knew that if I ever had children I would breastfeed them. The images I had seen my whole life, led me to believe that it was the most beautiful, peaceful, natural thing in the world. I hadn't yet been hit with all the "Breast is Best" campaign material, but I had (and still have) a belief that God has provided everything we need. That my body was not just made to grow life, but to sustain it.

Early in my pregnancy the women around me started telling me that breastfeeding was not "easy" and that most likely it wouldn't work out. That I didn't have to feel bad about not being able to do it. They weren't telling me to be mean or to be discouraging. They just wanted me to be prepared for what they felt was certain failure and the hurt that they had experienced when their visions hadn't come to pass as they had dreamed while expecting their first.

Another factor was that formula is expensive. When I was looking at what our budget would be once the baby was born, it was daunting. I didn't know how we could do it. To add my son to my insurance plan was nearly 600 dollars a month. I wish that none of these things were a concern for me and my growing family but the reality is that they very much are, and sticking with my goal, to do what I happened to believe was better for my son would alleviate some of the financial strains.

I was fortunate enough to have started frequenting The Red Tent, and while there I learned about a baby fair that was centered around natural birthing. I had also already decided to try to birth my son minus the epidural and was hoping to meet a doula there. I not only found the doula that we hired, but I found The Nursing Mothers Counsel an organization that gave a breastfeeding class and hooked you up with a  counselor to help you with any questions or problems for the duration of your breastfeeding journey. FOR FREE!

I felt armed and ready. When Animal was born he took to breastfeeding like a fish to water and the first week or so, I honestly felt the way I imagined I would feel. Except that it was happening a lot more often than I had expected even though I was told to expect 8-12 feedings a day. I had to feed him every 3 hrs which meant I was sleeping maybe 2 hrs at a time, I hadn't didn't want to believed it would be like that. It was a long and beautiful week.

Then it got so painful, I was so tired and one of my nipples cracked! It was like my nipples were on fire. They burned so bad there was no relief. Not what I had imagined. I whined, came close to tears, it was the worst. I didn't know what to do. I didn't think I could go on. I remembered my counselor and gave her a call. It was hard to make that call, I was embarrassed I didn't know if it was "normal". The counselor told me what I could do to get me through and assured me that nothing was wrong. This kind of thing happened. She promised me it would get better. Her tips worked and at 8 weeks we were over the horrible hump.

I had to pump A LOT for my always hungry baby. I felt like a cow being milked. It was a little embarrassing having to take my pump with me if I was going to be out when I needed to pump, but I was really committed. It wasn't easy, just like I'd been warned, but I felt all of these things were worth it.

Another unexpected thing, was the comments people make. Once you become a parent everybody and their momma feels like they have to share their opinion. Their opinion is likely to include what your doing wrong. If I had a dollar for every time someone made a negative comment about my breastfeeding , or how we were being crazy I probably wouldn't have to worry about Animal's college education. Among the most surprising annoying things was a childless friend telling my husband that there was no evidence that breastfeeding was beneficial to my son. A doctor telling me that it was not OK for me to not feed my son at least baby cereal once he turned 4 months (we were waiting until 6 months to introduce solids), and finally my mom insisting my aunt was right when she told me that I couldn't let my back get cold or my milk would "dry up".

It doesn't matter. All of those things people said, all of the problems, all of the inconveniences, don't matter one bit. It was the best choice for me and my family. My husband and I have loved this journey. It has been an amazing bonding experience for my son and I. It eases my guilt just a little that I had to go back to work so soon. I will always and forever cherish every memory that was made. I don't regret any of it.

This post is part of a multi blogger collaboration to read others ideas on this weeks theme (or add your own) just click the TT button.


  1. I swear, they change the solid food age from 4 months to 6 months and back again every two weeks. I had a friend with a kid 7 months older than mine, who was told 4 months. When my boy was 4 months, they told me 6 months. When another kid I know went to the SAME DOCTOR 5 months later, they told them four! WTF?!

    1. It's a conspiracy, so that no matter what you do 100 ppl can tell you're don't it wrong

    2. SEE!!! This is what I mean when I use quotation marks around "experts" every time I talk about them. It's crap! They don't know for sure so they just keep changing it to hedge their bets, or to keep themselves employed.

      I was lucky to have pediatricians who didn't think they knew it all - they said, "go ahead and try it at 4months but take your cues from the baby - if they choke or gag, they aren't ready - wait a couple weeks and try again if you want"

    3. I want to favorite your reply, and hashtag it damnmytwitteraddiction

    4. I think so too! The same doctor told me two different things with my kids!

    5. WTF, right? Like you're not second guessing yourself enough w/o their input!

  2. Don't you love how everyone has an opinion that they have to share with you? I just keep my stories and opinions to myself, unless someone directly asks me, of course! No one should be made to feel bad about what they end up doing as far as feeding their baby.

    I pumped a lot because I was working full time when both kids were little (I went to work part-time when my daughter was three months old-what a difference that made!) I felt like a cow sometimes. I was lucky enough to work at a daycare where everyone was very understanding that I needed to pump!

    1. I know it now! I have become so much more empathetic to what it's like to be a working parent.

      Lol, I work at a preschool too, my boss and co workers were amazing.

  3. You know what they say about people and their opinions right? ;-)

    "Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks."

    1. Lol, that is soooo funny cuz it's soooo true!