Breastfeeding taught me I'm a lousy mom

Monday, July 26, 2010

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival! This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about mothering through breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

Breastfeeding was my first hint that I was a lousy mother. It’s supposed to be natural, easy. Not for me! Breastfeeding was a crazy disaster. I didn’t know how to do it. Isis didn’t know how to do it. And, strangely, neither of us enjoyed it.

I really thought I knew about breastfeeding. As a labor and delivery nurse, I had helped scores of women with breastfeeding. How could I not know how to do it? How could my baby not know how to do it? What else was she built for at that stage?

And, how could we not enjoy it? Everyone says it is so wonderful. How could it not be wonderful?!?

Breastfeeding was my first hint that this motherhood thing was not going to go smoothly or as expected. In addition, breastfeeding was my first clue that being a mother meant that not a single thing was in my control anymore. Babies have to eat when they are hungry and that has nothing to do with my schedule. Breastfeeding a baby means being ready to expose yourself at any moment to make the baby happy. This was all WAY out of my comfort zone.

Before having a baby, you think about things like pushing the baby in the stroller on a warm Spring morning. You think about kissing the baby while he or she is sleeping. You think about the baby grinning at you. You do not think about being too exhausted to see straight, having baby spit-up on the inside of your brassiere in public, or trying to find a place to change the baby who is covered in poop or breastfeed at the restaurant the one time you had the guts to go out.

Breastfeeding was my introduction. With my daughter, the breastfeeding didn’t last long. Frankly, if the baby doesn’t like it, nothing else matters. It will end. I tried everything to impose my will and get her liking it again, but learned quickly that imposing your will on a baby is simply a recipe for insanity.

By the time my son came around, I had fully accepted that I was no longer in control of my own life. Realizing I was a slave to the baby’s whims, I was able to relax and enjoy breastfeeding. I told myself that this time I was going to just let it go. I was going to watch TV (something I actively avoided before). I was going to sit on the couch a lot. I was going to just follow the baby’s lead and allow him the time to develop his own schedule before I tried to do anything. This was a fully successful strategy. We both enjoy breastfeeding.

I don’t know that I would have ever learned to quit stressing and just let the kids rule if not for breastfeeding. I would probably have been trying to impose my personal order on the kids still.

Now, I’m not saying we have licorice for breakfast or that we color on the walls. My kids have order, discipline, and reason in their lives. But, as the mom, I cannot have a life separate from my kids. I have to vacuum while they are in their high chairs. I cannot take them out of the house, even if it is planned, if they didn’t sleep well and need an extra nap. I can’t decide that we have to do too many errands at one time. Things that work for me don’t work for them and I have to do what works for them. This is the lesson of breastfeeding for me.

This lesson has a strange effect. Once I learned it, I was happy. I fought so hard against giving myself over to my kids completely. I thought I was losing myself. But, when I finally did, I found that I didn’t lose anything. My kids and I are now a wonderful, close unit. I have everything I want and I enjoy every minute. I can now laugh at the messes instead of being frustrated by them. They are part of my life, not keeping me from my life. What a wonderful discovery. And, what a wonderful life it is.


 Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

Category: Motherhood
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Licorice for breakfast doesn't sound half bad. :P

Good for you learning to just let go of the control, so to speak. :)

Submitted by Lexi (not verified) on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 09:46.
This is a great reminder that

This is a great reminder that we work "around" our kiddos, not the other way around. I love that "once i learned this I was happy". . . that makes you a GREAT mom!

Submitted by Timbra (not verified) on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 10:19.
great expectations...

always disappoint. I think the mommy books set us all up for failure as first time moms. I too tried to control too many things with my first and was a very different and chill mom the second time around. Maybe we should write a book for new moms about that!!

Submitted by Natasha (not verified) on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 13:37.
It's so true that having a

It's so true that having a baby means surrendering all control to them. I am such a control freak and that was probably the hardest part for me.

Submitted by Claire (not verified) on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 14:16.

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